Having “clear understanding” of Synod Working Document among Aims of Planned SECAM Seminar

Official logo of the Synod on Synodality. Credit: Vatican Media

Having “a deep knowledge and clear understanding” of Instrumentum Laboris, the working document for the XVI Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops popularly known as the Synod on Synodality, is one of the aims of a planned seminar targeting African delegates.

In his message at a Tuesday, June 20 press conference about the Synodal working document and the Methodology of the first session of the Synod scheduled for October 2023, the Secretary General of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) said the date for the seminar that is to be realized in collaboration with the African Synodality Initiative (ASI) will be announced in due course. 

“Through this seminar, we hope to help SECAM delegates achieve many things. First, to acquire a deep knowledge and clear understanding of the Instrumentum Laboris for the Synodal Assembly and its implications for the Church in Africa,” Fr. Rafael Simbine Junior said about the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality, which Pope Francis extended to 2024. 

In his Angelus address on 16 October 2022, the Holy Father shared his decision to divide the next Synod of Catholic Bishops in Rome into two sessions: October 2023 and October 2024.

In his message at the June 20 press conference, Fr. Simbine said the planned seminar will also seek “to deepen the use of the conversation in the Spirit, drawing on the experiences from the African Synodal Continental Assembly, in order to foster meaningful and inclusive conversations, and active listening and dialogue as essential elements of synodality.”


The planned SECAM seminar, the member of Mozambique’s Xai-Xai Diocese said, will also be seeking “to review and reflect on the African Synodal Document, which was adopted as the official document for the African Church during the Continental Assembly, in order to deepen delegates' familiarity with its content and recommendations and to ensure its integration into their contributions and conversations during the Synodal Assembly.”

He also said that the seminar will provide an opportunity for SECAM delegates “to reflect on critical and important African issues to be shared during the Synod, including unique challenges, aspirations, and contributions of the Church in Africa, thus enabling the African delegation to speak with a united voice and effectively address the concerns of the Church in the African context.”

He added, “We hope that an enhanced understanding of the Instrumentum Laboris by SECAM delegates will enable them to actively contribute to conversations during the Synodal Assembly."

During the planned seminar, SECAM delegation to the Synod on Synodality will also "be equipped to identify and articulate with clarity and depth key African issues, ensuring that the concerns, challenges, and aspirations of the Church in Africa are well represented during the Synodal Assembly", Fr. Simbine said. 

The African delegation will, through the facilitators that SECAM and ASI are to identify and engage, be equipped with necessary skills, perspectives and knowledge that will enable them to actively contribute to the Synodal Assembly in Rome, he added in reference to planned seminar.

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“This seminar will reinforce the spirit of synodality and ensure that the Church in Africa speaks with one voice on the issues that concern it in order to shape the future of the Church and address the specific challenges and opportunities in the African ecclesial context,” the Secretary General of SECAM reiterated.

In March this year, SECAM held a six-day Continental Synodal Assembly that was expected to prepare the draft of the “African Synod Document” in line with the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS).

At the June 20 press conference, Fr. Simbine said the Continental Synod Assembly that officially opened on March 2 and concluded on March 5 “marked a significant milestone in the journey of the Church in Africa towards embracing synodality.”

The SECAM Plenary Assembly that was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, “provided an inclusive platform for delegates from across Africa and its islands to engage in a spiritual synodal journey, guided by the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS),” the Ghana-based Catholic Priest said.

On June 20, the Holy See released a new document that outlines key questions for the planned 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, as well as a working document dubbed the Instrumentum Laboris, which is to guide the discussions at the first global assembly of the Synod on Synodality.


The Synodal working document contains 15 worksheets with questions for discernment for delegates who will be participating in the October 2023 meeting.

Organizers of the Synod on Synodality have also announced a change of venue for the October 2023 Synodal Assembly of Catholic Bishops and other delegates, but indicated that the full list of those participating in the monthlong event is still being prepared.

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