, 22 January, 2021 / 10:40 PM
Members of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) have, in a new document unveiled Thursday, January 21, invited Christians in Africa and beyond to seek a deeper understanding of Jesus and to guard against “spiritualities of deliverance and prosperity.”
In his address at the launch of the Kampala Document, Bishop Gabriel Edoe Kumordji, Interim Treasurer of SECAM who gave the exhortation as contained in the document, said that knowing Jesus more closely would enable Christians in Africa to receive fullness of life.
“We are to live our Christian life or vocation without reducing its meaning to the materialistic satisfaction of human desires and to avoid the danger of promoting a Christianity that focuses on the salvation of souls without the body or one that is a recipe for fleeing from the Cross in search of miracles and quick solutions to human problems,” Bishop Kumordji said.
He went on to urge the people of God on the continent to guard themselves against “spiritualities of deliverance and prosperity” adding that such a disposition seeks to promote a Christianity devoid of the mystery of the Cross.
Such spiritualities, the Bishop of Ghana’s Keta Akatsi Diocese noted, is anchored on success and miraculous solutions to the problems of life.
“To this end, each addressee is required to seek or deepen a personal encounter with Christ… to adhere to him as a person rather than an idea, and be committed to him,” said Bishop Kumordji.
This deep devotion, the Ghanaian Bishop said, would enable Christians to draw from Jesus the strength and zeal necessary for evangelizing mission, which he noted was required for “a new Africa centred on God.”
The Kampala Document is an outcome of the discussions that members of SECAM had at the conclusion of their year-long Golden Jubilee celebrations (July 2018 to July 2019) which were concluded in Uganda’s capital, Kampala.
Published as a Pastoral Exhortation of SECAM under the themed, “That They May Know Christ and Have Life in Abundance”, the Kampala Document exhorts the people of God in Africa and Madagascar to devote time to study the life of Jesus in the gospels, to know him more deeply and to follow him more closely, “so as to receive from him the fullness of life that he brought to humanity.”
It was unveiled in four African countries, including Ghana, Burkina Faso, South Africa and in Mozambique.
Among those present at the launch at SECAM Secretariat in Ghana were Archbishop Gabriel Justice Yaw Anokye, former Vice President of SECAM, Fr. Henry Terwase Akaabiam, Secretary General of SECAM and the Vicar General of Ghana’s Accra Archdiocese, Fr. John Kobina Louis.
Fr. Louis who gave highlights of the 100-page document said the document was an extended invitation by SECAM to the Church in Africa and Madagascar “to receive life which Jesus gives in abundance.”
“During the Jubilee year from July 2018 to July 2019, SECAM invited us, that is, the Church family of God in Africa to welcome Christ our Savior. And now, in this Kampala Document, SECAM has invited us to listen continually to our Lord Jesus Christ whom we have welcomed and to embrace, accept, believe in and live by his teachings in the Gospel,” Fr. Louis said.
He added, “When we do this, we are sure to receive the abundance of the life that he came to give us.”
Divided into four parts, the Kampala Document is an invitation “to recognize that Jesus came among us in Africa” and calls for the renewal of a more proactive missionary engagement throughout the continent.
It also provides an analysis of the socio-cultural, political, economic, ethical and ecological challenges confronting the continent today and goes ahead to call for repentance of sins committed by people to alleviate the suffering on the continent.
The Document is addressed to all members of the Church-family of God in Africa and the surrounding Islands including Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Religious Men and Women and the Lay Faithful.
In the document, the Catholic Bishops in Africa and Madagascar appeal to Catholics in their areas of jurisdiction to carry out their evangelization mandate not only by word but by their lives and their actions in order to lead others to Christ.
It provides guidelines, which are necessary for an evangelizing mission that is based on the example of Jesus Christ and supports the building of “a new Africa centred on God,” according to Bishop Kumordji who explained the contents of the document.
“The envisaged new Africa is one where the baptized, aware that their identity and vocation are intimately linked to the person of Jesus Christ, become like the leaven of the kingdom that the Church takes and buries in the dough of African society,” the Prelate said.
He continued, “To this end, the Document serves as a pastoral instrument for intensified missionary commitment on the part of all agents of evangelization in Africa and the Islands both as individuals and as groups.”
He noted that the proclamation of the Word is more effective when lived in daily lives and urged Christians to let their lives bring out the Gospel and exhibit the qualities of the Good Shepherd.
The document says that all Christians, by virtue of their baptism, are called to proclaim the message of Christ and let others discover Christ.
The Document also urges members of the Clergy to treat the Laity with respect and give them the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the growth of the Church.
Further, it calls on Christian politicians to set good examples by bringing their faith to bear on their political life and avoid politics of polarization.
“Our Christian mission is capable of uniting us,” Bishop Kumordji said.
Providing the political context of his home country Ghana, the member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) added, “We see the political polarization in Ghana. We have said that the winner takes it all. In our society, they look at the colour of your skin and just by asking your name, they decide that you belong to one political group or the other. This is not good.”
“I think it is time for us to unite. We Christians must show that we are one. Even if we don’t agree on one thing, it doesn’t mean that we are enemies. Now we don’t know where to go because there is polarization everywhere, in our education, in agriculture and even in our homes,” the Bishop said during the unveiling of the Kampala Document at SECAM Secretariat in Accra, Ghana.
There is also a call for Christian politicians, rulers and those who hold various public offices to put an end to “a dichotomy between faith and politics, the kingdom of God and the transformation of the earth, salvation of souls and terrestrial life, contemplation and action,” he said.
In this connection, all members of the Church in Africa, Madagascar and the Islands are urged to continue resisting all vices and remain faithful to the Gospel.
On their part, media practitioners are invited to use the media to spread the truth and not falsehood, “to propose the beautiful, and not the ugly.”
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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
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