Forum of Catholic Bishops in Southern Africa Based on “search for communion”: Official

Official logo of the Synod on Synodality. Credit: Vatican Media

The forum of the Catholic Bishops called The Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) is founded on a “search for communion”, an official of the nine-nation entity has said.

The Coordinator of the Pastoral Department of IMBISA who made reference to the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality that is to be held in 2023 said that every Synod is an exercise in communion.

“The very existence and foundation of IMBISA is based on the search for communion among the local churches in the Southern African region and beyond,” Fr. Rafael Sapato said in his Monday, April 25 reflection.

Fr. Sapato said that the term “communion” primarily refers to the church based on participation in the life of the Holy Trinity.

The Mozambican Catholic Priest said that communion in the Southern African region and in the entire world was at its best during the COVID-19 period, adding that there was a lot of sharing that ranged from material to non-material things.


“During the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity lived and still lives this experience with great intensity. Because many shared and still share the common feeling of anxiety about contracting the virus, the awareness of fragility as well as experiencing the challenge of distance and isolation is against the social nature of man,” he said.

The member of the Clergy of Mozambique’s Lichinga Diocese added, “The COVID-19 pandemic in relation to communion has an ambivalent function, in the sense that it is an opportunity in which humanity strongly exhibits negative feelings and at the same time positive ones.”

The official of the forum that was officially constituted in 1978 to connect Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Africa, and Zimbabwe said that, for a period of 47 years, the region has challenged itself in its journey of faith to continue cementing its communion towards the Holy trinity.

To this end, Fr. Sapato said in reference to the commitment towards communion, “the Synod convened by His Holiness Pope Francis on Synodality appears to be a galvanizing factor to accelerate this march.”

He said that the local churches in the Southern African region will not face many challenges in attaining the goal that is proposed as far as communion is concerned “since Africa is fertile ground for the experience of communion.”

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He added, “Underpinning this belief is the fact that in rural areas, and many parts of our African Region are rural, it is natural to see people eating from the same plate, washing their hands from the same basin and drinking from the same bowl.”

He explained, “The clear message that this gesture conveys is: there is something in common in us, our humanity.”

“In communion something valuable is shared,” Fr. Sapato said, and added, “God, in the Incarnation, shared his own life with humanity. The feeling of communion makes us always have the other in mind, that s/he also may have the same opportunity.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.