Synodal Path “only way" to Address “common global challenges”: Bishops in Zimbabwe

Members of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) with Pope Francis in Rome. Credit: Vatican Media

Catholic Bishops in Zimbabwe have, in their latest Pastoral Letter, described the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality as the “only way” the people of God have to resolve the crises they face in life, including “common global challenges”.

In their Monday, July 18 pastoral letter, members of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) say, “The common global challenges we have faced such as the covid pandemic have increased our awareness of our connectedness and interdependence.”

“Besides our connectedness, humanity also appears increasingly shaken and fragmented. Nevertheless, we still have the capacity to work together in order to build our common home,” ZCBC members say.

They add, “As a Church, we have the mandate to continue Christ’s mission in the world today.  The synodal path represents the only way for the Church and for the world today.”

“By choosing this path, we choose to listen and not just hear the other; we choose to journey together and not alone; we are choosing the way of consensus not dictatorship,” Catholic Bishops in Zimbabwe say in their July 18 Pastoral Letter.


They hint to the theme of the Synod on Synodality, saying, “This path offers the Church and our politics the opportunity to initiate processes of listening, participation, dialogue and community discernment in view of arriving at the common good and God’s will for us.”

“The synodal path also launches the Church to pursue her mission as a prophetic witness that embraces the entire family of humanity. This mission is always urgent in the midst of our severely wounded country and world,” ZCBC members say.

In their statement signed by ZCBC President, Bishop Paul Horan of Mutare Diocese, the Catholic Bishops also highlight some of the global challenges, including the coronavirus, and the violent conflicts in various countries.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be much more than a health crisis as it has had a devastating effect on the socio-economic, spiritual and political cohesion of nations,” they say.

The Catholic Bishops also say, “The world is also experiencing many wars and conflicts.”

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“Countries such as Ethiopia, South Sudan, DRC, Palestine, Afghanistan and Syria have become synonymous with bloodshed,” ZCBC members say, and add, “The international peace and order appears to be under serious threat with the war in Ukraine.” 

In Zimbabwe, the Bishops say, “The context of the synodal journey is the growing political volatility brought about by the impending 2023 General Elections.”

“These elections are already being preceded by political intolerance, violence and bloodshed.  What has exacerbated our situation is the economic instability of the country which has brought with it instability in the financial market resulting in continuous increases in prices of basic commodities leaving them beyond the reach of the poor,” they say.

The Catholic Bishops add, “There is so much dehumanizing poverty and despair among our people. In order to overcome our socio-political and economic challenges there is need for a meaningful inclusive dialogue in the country.”

“If there is a lesson from our synodal journey it is precisely that we cannot go it alone. No single political party has all the answers hence the importance of listening to each other as we journey together,” ZCBC members say.


They go on to highlight the effects of climate change, which they say has resulted in “ever increasing droughts in Zimbabwe.”

Catholic Bishops in the Southern African nation say regret the fact that “the 2022 crop yield has been very poor resulting in the exposure of the poor to hunger.” 

As a way forward, ZCBC members turn to the Synodal path, and call for “the synodalization of the Church”.

“We invite all of you to work hard towards the synodalization of the Church. This means reinvigorating the sense that all the baptized, both the hierarchy and the laity, are called to be active participants in the saving mission of the Church,” Catholic Bishops in Zimbabwe say, and add, “In a synodal Church, we all should learn from one another.”

Reflecting on the synodal process in Zimbabwe, the Catholic Church leaders say, “A synodal Church is a participatory church in which believers are actively engaged in the Church and in the world.”

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“To achieve this, we must pursue new avenues to empower lay ministries. All members of the Church must be aware that participation and co-responsibility is both a right and an obligation rooted in the vocation received at Baptism and Confirmation,” the Catholic Church leaders say.

They add, “Communities marked by participation and co-responsibility become communities of missionary disciples. Thus, evangelization ceases to be a prerogative of Priests and Religious.”

“There is need to continue capacitating lay people with skills for the various services needed in our Parishes, such as Sunday Service Leaders, funeral ministers, readers, communion ministers, prayer leaders and taking care of the sick,” ZCBC members say.

They go on to highlight the importance of dialogue, saying, “The synod calls for an open dialogue within the church and with people from the worlds of economics and science, politics and culture, arts and sport, the media and social initiative.”

“Dialogue entails respectful listening, speaking out openly with respect, coming to know and understand one another as we find common ground,” they say, and add, “Let us commit ourselves to persistent and courageous dialogue. As a Church, we renew our commitment to act as genuine peace-builders in our nation.” 

ZCBC members continue, “The Church is a credible partner in creating a broad public consensus to guide our country to peace. The synod does not only require a mutual dialogue but prophetic dialogue.”

They further say, “The church not only listens to all but as prophet, the church listens carefully to God, is attentive to people’s cries, anguishes and discerning the signs of the times speak truth to power. There is a serious danger in trying to mute the prophetic voice of the Church.”

“Let us dream as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all,” Catholic Bishops in Zimbabwe say in their July 18 Pastoral Letter.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.