Catholic Bishops in Africa to Focus on “ownership of SECAM” at Planned Plenary Assembly

Members of SECAM Standing Committee in Accra, Ghana, in October 2019. Credit: SECAM

Catholic Bishops in Africa are expected to deliberate on the ownership of their continental forum, the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), during their Plenary Assembly scheduled to begin in July in Ghana’s capital, Accra.

The last SECAM Plenary Assembly, the 18th,  was in July 2019 in Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, when the Symposium of Catholic Bishops in Africa celebrated its golden jubilee and elected Philippe Cardinal Ouédraogo of Ouagadougou Archdiocese, Burkina Faso, as its president.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa March 25, the Secretary General of SECAM announces the theme and area of focus for the 19th Plenary Assembly of SECAM set to kick off on July 25 and conclude on August 1.

“This year’s Plenary Assembly, which is on the theme: 'Ownership of SECAM; Security and Migration in Africa and the Islands,' shall firstly focus on the implications of ownership for its members,” Fr. Terwase Henry Akaabiam says in the statement dated March 25. 

Outlining security as the second focus of the Catholic Bishops in Africa during the July/August Plenary Assembly, Fr. Akaabiam traces this focus to the situation of “many conflicts” in Africa and the need for a return to God as was examined during the 18th Plenary Assembly of SECAM and explained in the Kampala Document.


“Bothered about many conflicts on the African continent, resulting in the death and displacement of millions of people, the Catholic Bishops, secondly consider security to be indispensable for building ‘a new Africa centered on God’, as expressed in the Kampala Document (KD), released after the Golden Jubilee of SECAM in 2019,” the Secretary General of SECAM says.

KD is a 100-page publication bearing conclusions of the year-long Golden Jubilee of SECAM held in the Archdiocese of Kampala in Uganda. 

The document was published as a Pastoral Exhortation of SECAM under the theme, “That They May Know Christ and Have Life in Abundance”. It was unveiled in January 2021 in Ghana, Burkina Faso, South Africa, and Mozambique.

In July 2021, the people of God in Africa were invited to interact with the four-part document that is addressed to all members of the Church-family of God in Africa and the surrounding Islands. 

In KD, SECAM members provide an analysis of the socio-cultural, economic, political, ecological and ethical and challenges confronting the continent today. They also call for repentance of sins committed by people to alleviate the suffering on the continent. 

More in Africa

The Catholic Church leaders in Africa further appeal to the faithful to carry out their evangelization mandate by action. They also underline the need for the Church in Africa to find new methods of proclaiming the Gospel so as to transform the African continent. 

In KD, Catholic Bishops in Africa urge members of the Clergy to treat the Laity with respect and give them the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the growth of the Church. 

Further, SECAM member call on Christian politicians to set good examples by bringing their faith to bear on their political life and avoid politics of polarization.

Established in July 1969, SECAM grew out of the desire of Catholic Bishops in African during the Second Vatican Council to speak with one voice, Fr. Akaabiam recalls in his March 25 statement, adding that the desire was “to speak with one voice on matters pertaining to the Church in Africa." 

The Symposium has the mission “to promote its role as a sign and instrument of salvation and to build the Church as a Family of God in Africa,” while also preserving and fostering communion and collaboration among its member conferences.


SECAM has eight regional associations, which include the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa (ACEAC), the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa Region (ACERAC), and the Regional Episcopal Conferences of West Africa (RECOWA/CERAO).

Other regional associations include the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy of Egypt (AHCE), the Regional Episcopal Conferences of North Africa (CERNA), Madagascar and Episcopal Conferences of Indian Ocean (CEDOI), and the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA)

In his March 25 statement, SECAM Secretary General highlights how the Symposium carries out its “pastoral engagments”.

“SECAM executes its pastoral engagements through two Commissions, namely: Evangelization and Justice, Peace and Development,” Fr. Akaabiam says. 

He continues, “To bring the voice of the Catholic Church into issues of good governance and sustainable development, and to promote servant leadership across the continent and the islands, SECAM obtained Observer Status at the African Union (AU) in 2015.”

(Story continues below)

The Symposium established SECAM Day as an annual event that commemorates the official launch of the Symposium of Catholic Bishops in Africa in July 1969 by Pope Paul VI in Kampala, Uganda. This was the first visit of a Pope to Africa in modern times.

The use of English, French and Portuguese as the official languages facilitates the fostering of communion among the members of SECAM, the Secretary General of the Symposium that is headquartered in the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana, says in his March 25 statement shared with ACI Africa.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.