“We felt the Holy Spirit was at work”: Nigerian Archbishop on Synod in Rome

Archbishop Lucius Ugorji (right), President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) with Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama (left) of Abuja Archdiocese during the Synod on Synodality in Rome. Credit: Abuja Archdiocese

Archbishop Lucius Ugorji, the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) who participated in the October 4-29 XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome has said delegates “felt the Holy Spirit was at work.”

In a Wednesday, November 1 interview with ACI Africa, Archbishop Ugorji said that the meeting in Rome was “very enriching, given that one had to experience the unity in faith that binds us together as Catholics.”

Participants, he said, witnessed the “rich diversities of local Churches shaped by the diverse cultures and challenges of the Church in different parts of the world.”

“We felt the Holy Spirit was at work, dispelling the initial tension that mounted at the beginning of the Synod, following fears and anxieties regarding the outcome of the General Assembly,” the Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Owerri Archdiocese said.

He added, “We the participants at the Synod felt highly privileged to represent our various local churches in Africa.”


“We wish to thank the Clergy, the Religious and Lay Faithful across Africa who supported us with their prayers and spiritual closeness,” Archbishop Ugorji told ACI Africa.

Reflecting on what made the Synod exceptional, the Nigerian Catholic Archbishop said, “Although the Synod was described as the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, all the participants with voting rights were not all Bishops. There were Priests, Consecrated Men and Women and Lay Persons who participated at the Synod and had voting rights like Bishops.”

Speaking about his experience at the Synod, the president of CBCN said, “I had the opportunity to speak in the small group discussions and also in the general assembly.”

According to the Nigerian prelate, the synod aims at making every baptized Catholic have a sense of belonging to the Church, have a voice as a member of the family of God and also offers each the opportunity of participating in different aspects of the Church’s mission and life. 

In the synodal journey, he said, every baptized Catholic is meant to be an active participant.

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Archbishop Ugorji said, “The Church in Africa made concerted efforts to see that revealed truths contained in the Sacred Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition are preserved while responding to the challenges posed to the Church of our time.”

According to the Archbishop, the Church must not modify its structures to make everyone feel included.

“The Church is not to modify divine laws and precepts in order to create room for all. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ extends his invitation for discipleship to all,” he said, and added, “However, all who respond to become his disciples are to follow him not on their own terms but on His own terms and standards. Thus, His call to discipleship involves the challenge to ongoing conversion of turning away from a sinful life to embrace a life of holiness.”

The Church leader said that the synthesis report published at the end of the assembly will help to prepare the agenda for the concluding General Assembly slated for October 2024. 

He said that local Churches have the opportunity to study the report closely in preparation for the General Assembly of October 2024.


He said, “The Church in Africa expects every baptized Christian to participate actively in the synodal journey by proclaiming the Good News, reaching out to the poor and the distressed as well as our separated brethren and adherents of other religions.”

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.