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Africans Invited to Interact with Bishops’ “Kampala Document” for Renewed Evangelization

Screenshot of some participants during the July 22 virtual session to mark 2021 SECAM Day. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The people of God in Africa have been invited to interact with the Kampala Document (KD) of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), the 100-page publication that resulted from the discussions Catholic Bishops in Africa had at the conclusion of their year-long Golden Jubilee celebrations (July 2018 to July 2019).

The invitation was made during the three-day virtual session to mark 2021 SECAM Day that concluded Friday, July 23.

Addressing participants on the second day of the session, Fr. Francis Appiah Kubi described the KD that was launched in January in Accra, as a means, for people of God in Africa, to tackle “common issues and problems of evangelization faced by the African continent.”

“By the celebration of the Kampala Document, each faithful of Christ, every Christian community in Africa is invited to make a new commitment to the mission and must respond to it with renewed eagerness,” Fr. Appiah said Thursday, July 22.

The news commitment, he said, requires that every Christian in Africa enters “fully into the celebration of the jubilee through conversion and a renewed commitment to spreading the word of God in Africa.”

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“The Kampala document is to help us first to identify the initiatives and activities undertaken in favor of the Church family of God in Africa, at the personal level, at the family level, parochial, diocesan, national, regional, and even continental levels,” the Ghanaian Cleric added during the virtual event that is part of 2021 SECAM Day celebration.

SECAM Day commemorates the official launch of the Symposium of Catholic Bishops in Africa in July 1969 by Pope Paul VI in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. This was the first visit of a Pope to Africa in modern times.

SECAM Day is considered an important event for the Church in Africa because it offers an opportunity for the faithful on the continent to contribute toward sustaining the activities of the common forum of Catholic Bishops in Africa.

Established in July 2013, during SECAM’s 16th Plenary Assembly, SECAM Day is also important because it provides an opportunity for all members of the Family of God in Africa and the surrounding Islands to pray for and identify with SECAM.

Last year, the Secretary General of SECAM, Fr. Terwase Henry Akaabiam highlighted the importance of the SECAM Day.

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In his 11 July 2020 letter addressed to the Secretaries General of the eight regional Conferences of Catholic Bishops in Africa, Fr. Akaabiam invited the people of God in Africa to support the initiative saying, “Normally, 29th July of every year is SECAM Day. When 29th July falls on a weekday, SECAM Day is celebrated on the following Sunday, and the collection is taken for the purpose.”

In his goodwill message to the People of God ahead of the 2020 SECAM Day, the President of SECAM, Philippe Cardinal Ouédraogo announced the deferment of the annual collection.

Cardinal Ouédraogo stated, “Following the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic at the moment, we have opted to defer the special SECAM collection for this year. But if any person or group of people are moved by the Holy Spirit to support SECAM financially or materially, you are welcome to do so.”

This year, the Eucharistic celebration to mark SECAM Day has been slated for next week, Thursday, July 29, to be presided over by the President of SECAM, Philippe Cardinal Ouédraogo, and on Sunday, August 1, in Parishes across Africa.

In his presentation during this year’s virtual event on July 22, Fr. Appiah noted that the KD helps the people of God in Africa “to acknowledge the progress made as the Church family of God and how do we in our parishes, religious congregations be and react as the Church family of God.”

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The document, he said, “also helps us to identify common activities that we have developed to help us internalize, assimilate and testify in truth that we are indeed God’s family.”

Also speaking at the July 22 webinar, Fr. Dieu-Donne Kofi Davor encouraged the people of God in Africa to interact with the KD saying the publication’s content is "a unique opportunity to show appreciation to God for his countless blessings on the Church and the entire continent.”

Reflecting on theme, “Implementation of the Pastoral exhortations of the Kampala Document,” the Ghanaian Cleric said, “The words of gratitude are followed with the expression of the desire by the Church-Family of God to know Christ more deeply, and follow him more closely in order to receive from him the fullness of life that he brought to humanity.”

“The Document should therefore be seen as a Pastoral Instrument for a new missionary commitment after the example of Christ,” Fr. Kofi added.

On her part, Sr. Teresa Okure who provided suggestions for the implementation of KD said, “We should be aware of the nature of this document to better spread the message it contains.”

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“This is the first document that is 100 percent home grown. This document is a gift from God to Africa at this time asking Africans to get up and take up their responsibilities,” the Nigerian-born Sister who is a member of SECAM Theological Committee (COMITHEOL) that participated in drafting the document said. 

The First Vice President of SECAM, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, described the KD as being “mostly diagnostic. It doesn't provide the means of implementation.”

“This Document needs some breakdown to doable things. The document should be simplified and made available to all,” the Local Ordinary of South Africa’s Umtata Diocese who doubles as the President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) said.

For the President of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS), Bishop Emmanuel Badejo, the success of the KD “will be found in our ability not to make it scholastic. We need to get it down to the man of the street in his own language.”