Bishops in Eastern Africa to Measure Laudato Si’ Gains, Chart Four-Year Environmental Plan

A poster announcing the 20th Plenary Assembly of AMECEA to be held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from July 9 to 18. Credit: AMECEA

Delegates of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) are set to reflect on the gains that have been made in the region on the care for the environment during the association’s 20th Plenary Assembly to be held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from July 9 to 18.

In their meeting, Catholic Bishops in the nine-member countries are also to engage with international experts on environmental issues to find ways of designing a strategy that will see them implement Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’, even more.

Addressing the media on Friday, July 8, ahead of the AMECEA Plenary Assembly, the Secretary General of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) said that it is the responsibility of the members of the press to ensure that the message of the Catholic Bishops is disseminated across the region.

“Bishops are meeting in Tanzania to reflect on the gains they have made in their respective conferences to take care of the environment, and to chart a way forward to contribute even more towards environmental protection,” Fr. Charles Kitima said.

Fr. Kitima added, “There is no life without the environment. And our plea to the media is to pass the message of the Catholic Church leaders concerning the environment.”


The TEC Secretary General noted that with increased human activity and developments in technology, comes the risk of environmental degradation, underscoring the need to fortify efforts to conserve nature.

“There is a need to take care of the environment as human activities increase, as the global population continues to grow, as more innovations are unveiled in the transport sector, and as various forms of technologies emerge. All this growth, in one way or the other, continues to affect the environment,” Fr. Kitima said.

“Various experts have been invited in these environmental talks to equip the Bishops with scientific knowledge on environmental issues,” the Tanzanian Catholic Priest said.

The 20th AMECEA Plenary Assembly will bring together some 124 Catholic Bishops from nine member countries, which include Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Djibouti and Somalia are affiliate members.

In his welcoming note ahead of the Plenary Assembly, the Chairman of AMECEA, Bishop Charles Sampa Kasonde said that the regional association has been key in providing direction and unity in Eastern Africa. 

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“From inception in 1961, AMECEA’s distinctive contribution to the solidarity of the Church in the region has been the establishment and strengthening of participation, Pastoral solidarity and collaboration, anchored on grassroots level establishments – the Small Christian Communities,” Bishop Kasonde said.

“At this 20th Plenary Assembly, the delegates congregate here in Dar es Salaam to deliberate on the delicate matter of ‘care for our common home’. This is an urgent challenge as environmental degradation and its impact threatens the very existence of humanity that Jesus came to save,” the Local Ordinary of Zambia’s Catholic Diocese of Solwezi said.

He added, “It is my delight to welcome all the delegates, plenary speakers and other invited guests from across the world. Your presence is a blessing to not only the Church in the AMECEA region but to the entire community of God’s people.”

According to the program of the Plenary obtained by ACI Africa, July 10 will be the official opening of the AMECEA special session with Holy Mass at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam. 

Other planned events include two-day study sessions at Julius Nyerere International Convention Center on the theme, “Environmental care”. 


At the end of the study sessions, Catholic Bishops will adopt resolutions in a communique that will be shared with the media for dissemination. The resolutions are to guide the activities of the eight national Conferences of AMECEA until the 21st Plenary Assembly.

During the July 8 press conference, TEC Secretary General said that Tanzanian President, Samia Suluhu who he said is “also very passionate about the care for the environment” will have a session with the Catholic Bishops.

Fr. Kitima said that Tanzania, which is hosting the AMECEA Plenary Assembly, is key in matters of environmental conservation. He added that TEC, in particular, has come up with a long term strategy “to turn Tanzania green”.

“In November last year, we unveiled a strategy that requires each family to plant 20 trees. Various communities, including schools, Parishes, Mosques have also been mandated to plant as many trees as possible,” Fr. Kitima said, adding that in the tree planting “initiative, we are working closely with the government to ensure that there are communal forests all over the country.”

The TEC official said that Tanzania leads by example in the care for the environment, and explained, “Here, we have some of the biggest parks, mountains, rivers, and the ocean. Tanzania has everything. But we’ll destroy everything if we don’t boost our efforts to take care of the environment, our home.”

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The President of TEC, Archbishop Gervas John Mwasikwabhila Nyaisonga, has assured all delegates participating in the Plenary Assembly of the country’s hospitality during the eight-day event.

“TEC warmly welcome you to experience the authentic Tanzanian Hospitality, share the joy and warmth of our people as you go about critical business of the plenary,” the Local Ordinary of Mbeya Archdiocese said, and added, “Our Secretariat staff and members of the plenary committee are at your service to ensure a comfortable, smooth and enjoyable stay.”

The Administrative Secretary in the Department of Social Communications of AMECEA, Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, lauded TEC for the successful efforts in creating awareness about the activities of the regional Bishops’ entity. 

“You have done an amazing job campaigning ahead of the plenary assembly,” the Kenyan member of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Anna said, and added in reference to TEC, “You composed poems and songs, and now many people know about the AMECEA “Plenary Assembly. As a journalist, I am amazed.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.