Southern Africa’s Pastoral Plan to Provide Context for Planned Pretoria Diocesan Synod

The Pastoral Plan of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) that was launched at the beginning of this year is set to offer the context under which the planned one-year Diocesan Synod of South Africa’s Pretoria Archdiocese will be held, the leadership of the Archdiocese has said.

In the Sunday, November 1 statement, Archbishop Dabula Anthony Mpaka of Pretoria says that the Diocesan Synod, which has been scheduled to start on January 17, 2021, will focus on reviewing “the life, functioning and ministry of the local Church of the Archdiocese of Pretoria.”

“The new Pastoral plan will constitute the context within which this review will take place. In that way, it will be the light enlightening the whole process,” Archbishop Mpako further says, making reference to SACBC Pastoral Plan that was launched in January.

Coming 16 years after the first one that was held under the leadership of the then Archbishop Emeritus George Francis Daniel, Archbishop Mpako says that the January 2021 provides an opportunity to undertake another “comprehensive evaluation of the life and work of our Archdiocese.”

“Such a reflection will enable us to see more clearly where we are at the present moment in light of the vision and call of the new Pastoral Plan, and to do an appropriate evaluation and discernment,” the 61-year-old Prelate says in the two-page statement obtained by ACI Africa.


Most importantly, he adds, the evaluation will enable the Church in Pretoria “to determine in a practical way what needs to be done going forward in order for the Archdiocese to optimally implement the new Pastoral Plan in the different focus areas that have been identified.”

Launched on January 26 by SACBC members, the Pastoral Plan has the purpose of helping and guiding the people of God in the three-nation region “to listen and respond to the leading of the Spirit, to enter into the Father’s plan for our Church and our world; to be missionary disciples of Jesus in the present and to let the Spirit guide us into the future.”

Comprising eight thematic areas, the Pastoral Plan is expected to be implemented in all the ecclesiastical jurisdictions of the conference that comprises the Local Ordinaries and their equivalent in the Catholic Dioceses of Botswana, South Africa, and Swaziland.

“I have judged it opportune for the Archdiocese of Pretoria to carry out this implementation through the process of a diocesan synod. Hence the decision to promulgate and convoke the synod in question,” Archbishop Mpako says in the statement addressed to the Clergy, Religious and the Laity under his pastoral care.

In his November 1 statement, the Archbishop describes Synod as “an expression of the Church as the People of God, members of the faithful who are in communion with one another and who share, in a manner proper to each of them, in the threefold priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ.”

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Making reference to Canon Law 460, the South African Prelate explains that coming together for a Diocesan Synod is an “important instrument for the governing and renewal of a diocese, culminating eventually in ‘an assembly of selected priests and other members of Christ's faithful of a particular Church which, for the good of the whole diocesan community, assists the diocesan bishop’..."

The one-year Synod is expected to proceed according to the guidelines stipulated in Canon Law 462-468 and the "Instruction on Diocesan Synods" promulgated jointly by the Congregation of Bishops and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples on 19 March 1997, Archbishop Mpako who also shepherds the members of the military in South Africa adds.

In his statement, the Archbishop announces the appointment of a six-member Steering Committee for the Diocesan Synod whose mandate is to “organize, coordinate and to handle all synodal affairs.”

“I earnestly invite all members of the faithful, clergy, religious and lay people, to give your full support to this significant event of our Archdiocese, and by your prayers, collective insights and active participation, contribute towards making it a success,” the Archbishop says in his November 1 statement.

He adds, “I ask that during the period of the Diocesan Synod the synod process should be the main focus and should take priority over all the ordinary activities in our parishes and sodalities which would have normally constituted our Year Plans for 2021.”