Catholic Prelates Must “tread path of listening”: Archbishop on Ministry of Bishop in Mission of Church in Africa

A poster announcing the webinar organized under the theme, “Synod on Synodality: Ministry of bishop in the Mission of the Church in Africa”. Credit: AMECEA

Catholic Prelates cannot adequately fulfill their Episcopal Ministry if they ignore the virtue of listening, Archbishop Gabriel Justice Yaw Anokye of Ghana’s Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi has said. 

Archbishop Anokye, who was speaking during the Thursday, April 18 virtual conference organized under the theme, “Synod on Synodality: Ministry of bishop in the Mission of the Church in Africa”, emphasized the need for Catholic Prelates as well as all pastoral agents to listen to the Holy Spirit.

“Bishops in their ministry in the Church are obliged to tread that path of listening to be able to move together as one Church,” he said, and emphasized, “In the spirit of Synodality, in the spirit of journeying together, listening to ourselves, but especially listening to the Holy Spirit is imperative.”

The Ghanaian-born Catholic Archbishop further said that in listening to each other and to the Holy Spirit, Bishops and pastoral agents can know the needs of “those who have no voices, who have no defense. We are their mouths; we are their defenses.”

He cautioned against individual approaches to pastoral ministry, saying, “Collaboration in our mission as ministers of the word, Sacraments, of gospel values like peace, justice, fruitfulness, reconciliation, forgiveness, love, hard work, unity, is a categorical imperative.”


“It is a must. No Bishop, no pastoral agent, no Cleric or Religious can do it alone,” the 62-year-old Ghanaian Archbishop said in his address at the April 18 webinar that the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) organized in partnership with the Association of Consecrated Women in Eastern and Central Africa (ACWECA), the African Synodality Initiative (ASI), and the Pan-African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS), an entity of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).

He went on to explain that “when we move together, as one Church, we are strongest and we are able to go far.”

“If we were to move alone, we would go very fast but if we move together, we will go far; we’ll sustain each other and we’ll support each other,” the Catholic Church leader, who started his Episcopal Ministry in January 2004 as Auxiliary Bishop of Kumasi Archdiocese said.

He added in reference to the need to embrace a collaborative approach to Episcopal Ministry, “It is my prayer that Bishops will animate this spirit to be able to move the Church forward.”

On his part, the President of CEPACS described the April 18 virtual conference as “a significant step forward in the synodal journey especially now that the General Secretariat of the Synod has tasked us to focus on some concrete steps to take in order to grow as a synodal Church.”

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“The Synod on Synodality urges us towards a path where every voice is heard, every heart is considered, where every hand is held firmly in the love of Christ and where no one is left behind,” Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo said in his opening remarks.

The Local Ordinary of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo in Nigeria said that Synodality “does not exist without the pastoral responsibility of Bishops”.

He added, “Each Diocesan Bishop in the diocese entrusted to his care is called to facilitate the synodal experience of the people of God.”

“The Bishops’ charism on discernment calls them to be authentic guardians, interpreters and witnesses to the faith of the Church,” the Nigerian Catholic Bishop said.

Meanwhile, the Secretary General of AMECEA, Fr. Anthony Makunde, highlighted the link between the theme of the Syond on Synodality and the Episcopal Ministry. 


Fr. Makunde said, “The Ministry of Bishops cuts across the three synod theme components, namely communion, participation and mission.”

He added that while the report of the Continental Assembly of the Synod on Synodality of the Church in Africa “does not directly mention the ministry of the Bishop”, the deliberations “on the need for co-responsibility we can trace an indication of the ministry of the Bishop.”

The AMECEA Secretary General described the April 18 virtual conference “is one among many forums where the people of God all over the world are responding to the call of the Holy Father to carry on the process of discernment at various levels, guided by the synthesis report as a resource document.” 

The fruits of this discussion and many others, the Nairobi-based Tanzanian-born Catholic Priest said, “will not only keep the spirit of the synod alive, but also inform the contact persons of the Episcopal conferences as they prepare their reports and good practices ready to be submitted to the General Secretariat of the Synod by May 15 of this year.” 

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.