The discussion will take place against the backdrop of Pope Francis’ May 7, 2019 Apostolic Letter Vos estis Lux Mundi (You are the Light of the World) in which the Pontiff has established new norms that oblige Bishops and leaders of Religious Orders and Societies of Apostolic Life to report cases of child abuse by clergy and religious and to ensure accountability.
“Whenever a cleric or a member of an Institute of Consecrated Life of a Society of Apostolic Life has notice of, or well-founded motives to believe that (delicts against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue) has been committed, that person is obliged to report promptly the fact to the local Ordinary where the events are said to have occurred or to another Ordinary,” reads in part procedural norms by Pope Francis, which came into force on June 1, 2019.
Meeting under the theme, “Reinforcing communion in IMBISA for effective collegiality to respond better to the protection of children and vulnerable persons as well as the earth, our common home,” the Church leaders from six conferences of Bishops will also deliberate on the protection of the earth, our common home with reference to Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Sì.
According to Zimbabwe-based Fr Vilakati, the discussion about the care for creation will aim at taking “stock of work done since the last Assembly in Lesotho three years ago which was dedicated to this Encyclical (Laudato Sì).”
“There is a feeling that more work needs to be done in the area of care for the environment and that Laudato Sì seems to cut across many issues of Church life,” Fr Vilakati disclosed and added, “It is important to see the matters that the Bishops will be discussing as part of the Missionary mandate of the Church.”
Missionary work is called upon to heal relationships and we do well in healing our relationship with the earth, neighbor and God himself. As such therefore, care for the earth is not an option but very central to the message of faith, the native of Swaziland Fr. Vilakati explained.
The deliberations about the care for our common home seems consistent with the message of Pope Francis for the 2019 World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation that has the Holy Father encouraging Catholics to make simple changes to their lives so that God’s creation is treated with respect.
The Plenary Assembly, planned in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, will also cover issues around the Coordinated Leadership Plan of Bishops in the IMBISA region.
“In normal terms this is the Strategic Plan, which has been developed over the last two or three years, which seeks to delineate clearly the direction of IMBISA for the foreseeable future,” Fr Vilakati told ACI Africa and added, “this plan aims to encourage Bishops to commit themselves to the work of IMBISA so that they may, by common action, give witness as Christians in this part of the world.”
The meeting is expected to bring together some 80 Bishops and heads of dioceses in Southern Africa region who will also meet the local Church in Maputo at the celebration of the Holy Eucharist slated to take place Saturday, November 16 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.