Planned Meetings of “mixed group of African theologians, pastoral practitioners, experts” to Reflect on Synodal Outcomes

Members of SECAM's Theological Committee (COMITHEOL). Credit: SECAM

Plans are underway for a two-phase convention bringing together African professionals in the fields of theology and pastoral ministry to deliberate on the outcomes of the two sessions of the Synod on Synodality.

In a Concept Note shared with ACI Africa, the African Synodality Initiative (ASI) leadership that is spearheading the convention provides details of the two phases of the meeting, the first phase being scheduled for June 2024 and the other later in the year, after the 2-29 October 2024 session in Rome.

“ASI will convene a mixed group of African theologians, pastoral practitioners, and experts, including some delegates to the Synod, in two stages,” ASI leadership says in the Concept Note.

Participants in the two-stage convention are “to reflect on the outcomes of the Synod, provide a theological analysis of the key dynamics of the process, and offer a theological input from an authentically African perspective,” the leadership of ASI, a partnership between the Jesuits Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM), the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), and the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), add.

The Concept Note that the programme Coordinator of ASI, Caroline Kavita, shared with ACI Africa on Thursday, May 16 indicates that participants in the two-stage convention will “develop and publish a volume on the ‘Living Theology of Synodality: The Face of a Synodal Church’ – from an African Perspective, as a complement to ‘A Pocket Companion to Synodality: Voices from Africa and Training Toolkit on Synodality.’”


First stage convention

This stage is to begin with members of the Working Group of African Theologians (WGAT) identifying “key themes, areas, contents, and processes of synodality for further theological study.”

According to ASI leadership, “each participant will produce an initial draft of a working paper or a position paper on an assigned area, theme, or process of synodality” ahead of the first stage convention scheduled for June 19-22.

The drafts of the position papers from WGAT members “will be the basis of reflection and discussion during this colloquium in June 2024 to generate further insights for a deeper analysis, enrichment, and refinement of the working paper or position paper,” the Concept Note indicates.

Participants in the convention are to shed light on some of the questions that emerged during the first session of the ongoing Synod, 4-29 October 2023, which concluded with a 42-page summary report.

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The colloquium, ASI leadership says, “will answer some of the questions raised in the Synthesis Report and form part of the conversation that must continue in anticipation of the second session of the Synod in October 2024.”

Second stage convention

Provisionally scheduled for sometime in December 2024, the second stage convention will follow the October 2024 session, the corresponding Final Synthesis report, and “possibly the Apostolic Exhortation” on the Synod on Synodality. 

As a starting point, “each participant will revise and rework his or her text into a publishable book chapter of 5,000 – 6,000 words, drawing on the outcome of the second session of the Synod,” ASI leadership says. 

“The WGAT will further discuss the draft book chapter of each participant to enrich it and deepen its theological insights, in preparation for the post-synodal publication on the ‘Living Theology of Synodality: The Face of a Synodal Church’ – from an African Perspective,” the Concept Note indicates. 


The second stage of the convention will go on as planned whether the Apostolic Exhortation is published or not, ASI leadership notes, and explains, “Because this project focuses more on the process of synodality rather than the content, the WGAT would not need to wait for the release of the Apostolic Exhortation to conclude their work.”

“Once published the volume would be a useful companion to the Apostolic Exhortation,” ASI leadership further notes, adding, “A similar approach was used during the first African Synod.”

The two-stage convention initiative is to culminate in the publication of a post-Synodal academic volume on the new theology of synodality from an African perspective.

This academic volume, the leadership says, “will serve as a resource material for theological formation, teaching and ministerial formation across the Church in Africa and beyond.”

ASI leadership is looking towards “an enhanced theological discourse and dialogue on and contribution to synodality that reflects the richness and diversity of thought within the African context.”

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From the two-phase convention, the forum that brings together representatives from AMECEA, JCAM, and SECAM also expects “a lasting testament to the collective wisdom of the African Church that facilitates the development and ongoing growth of a synodal Church” as well as “a rich, accessible, and substantial resource material for ongoing formation and learning, as proposed by the Synod on Synodality.”

“The two-stage convening will conclude after the second session of the Synod, with the subsequent publication of a monograph on the theology of synodality in early 2025,” ASI leadership says in the Concept Note shared with ACI Africa May 16.

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