Vatican Official Urges Bishops in Africa to Tell Their Local Stories to “globalized world”

SECAM members following presentations at their 19th Plenary Assembly in Accra, Ghana. Credit: ACI Africa

The Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Communications has challenged Catholic Bishops in Africa to voice their initiatives taken at the grassroots beyond their respective Episcopal Sees to the “globalized world”.

In his Tuesday, July 26 goodwill message to delegates of the 19th Plenary Assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) in Ghana’s capital city, Accra, Dr. Paolo Ruffini said the people of God across the globe have interest in what Catholic Bishops in Africa are doing in their respective Dioceses; he called for “increased collaboration” with Vatican media platforms, including radio and social media forums.

Dr. Ruffini said he was “pleased to remind” Catholic Bishops in Africa that the “globalized world needs to hear about you too, and about what you are doing as a local church in your various dioceses.”

He invited SECAM members to tap into the various media forums of the Holy See, saying, “I would like to make a call for increased collaboration, increased cooperation and increased networking.”

“Through the radio, through the web, through social media we can build a system with the mission of feeding the word of truth, based on the experience of Pentecost – interwoven with the spirit of sharing instead of the one of Babel,” the Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication said in his July 26 goodwill message at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) Conference Center.


He acknowledged with appreciation Catholic Bishops’ initiatives in establishing Church radio and Television stations on the African continent and underlined the need for partnership and networking with the Vatican media.

The Vatican official said that such partnership will enable the people of God in Africa to access “trustworthy news about the Holy Father, the Holy See and about the universal Church.”

“I would like to compliment and recognize the ongoing efforts in communication at all levels, mostly through the flourishing of radio and TV stations wherever they operate in the Church, the Family of God, on the continent, abroad and online,” he said.

The head of the Dicastery for Communication recognized the ongoing collaboration, saying, “Most of these radio stations are re-transmitting (on their FM diocesan radio stations) Vatican Radio’s daily bulletins, broadcasts in the English, French, Portuguese, Kiswahili and occasionally many other African languages.”

He further said in reference to partnership, “These daily radio broadcasts, consisting of a daily, up-to-date and verified news about the Holy Father and the various Dicasteries of the Holy See are assuring to the people on the African continent and in the world at large.”

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In his July 26 goodwill message to delegates of the July 25 – August 1 SECAM Plenary Assembly in Accra, Dr. Ruffini went on to explain the importance of communication in the light of the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality, saying that the Holy father seeks to inspire a spirit of care and humanity among the people.

He said that through communication, “a significant contribution to the diffusion of a culture of peace grounded in the truth of the Gospel” as well as the “ability to pay particular attention to the needs of people, especially young people” will be fostered.

The Vatican official said that communication through the spirit of Synodality will also help to “develop a sound critical sense, learning to distinguish truth from falsehood, right from wrong…and to appreciate the importance of working for justice, social concord, and respect for our common home.”

“Communication is not just a profession,” Dr. Ruffini said. Communication, he went on to say, “is a service to dialogue and mutual understanding between individuals and communities for the pursuit of a serene and peaceful coexistence.”

The 19th SECAM Plenary Assembly follows the July 2019 that took place in Kampala, Uganda, concluding with the election of Philippe Cardinal Ouedraogo, the Archbishop of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, as the President of the continental symposium.


The July 2019 Plenary Assembly also marked the conclusion of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of SECAM celebrations (July 2018 to July 2019). The  Plenary resulted in the Kampala Document (KD), the 100-page publication that documented the discussions Catholic Bishops in Africa had at the conclusion of their year-long Golden Jubilee.

According to one of the drafting members, KD signals “collaboration beyond boundaries”.

In his July 26 goodwill message, Dr. Ruffini reflected on the KD, which he said pledges to foster communication within the Church and called upon Catholic Bishops in Africa to promote collaboration across Episcopal Conferences.

He said that KD “entreats the national Episcopal Conferences to engage fully in technical, doctrinal and moral formation of all pastoral agents working with the media.”

As stipulated in KD and with proper guidance, the formation of Catholic communicators across Episcopal Conferences will ensure that they are not afraid to express their faith in the world of communication, the Vatican official said, adding that free expression of faith in media reports goes a long way in realizing networks across Catholic Bishops’ Conferences on the African continent.

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Dr. Ruffini lauded the revitalization of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) and the appointment of its president, Bishop Emmanuel Badejo, a member of the Dicastery for Communication.

He underscored the need for professionalism through appropriate training of Catholic communicators. He said, “We are urging the Catholic universities and higher educational institutions to ensure the best training in social communication studies at both the human and professional levels.”

Delegates of the 19th Plenary Assembly who are meeting in Accra under the theme, “Ownership of SECAM: Security and Migration in Africa and its Islands” are drawn from the eight regional associations of the continental symposium.

These include the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa (ACEAC), the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa Region (ACERAC), and the Regional Episcopal Conferences of West Africa (RECOWA/CERAO).

Other regional associations are the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy of Egypt (AHCE), the Regional Episcopal Conferences of North Africa (CERNA), Madagascar and Episcopal Conferences of Indian Ocean (CEDOI), and the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA).

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