Synod Inspires “new energy in Church’s pastoral communication” in Africa: Catholic Bishop

Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo of Nigeria's Oyo Diocese. Credit: Oyo Diocese

The ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality is inspiring a new “energy in the Church’s pastoral communication apostolate” across the African continent, a Catholic Bishop in Nigeria has said.

In his presentation to members of the Vatican Dicastery for Communications during their November 10-12 Plenary in Rome, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo expressed appreciation to the Holy Father “for the refrain that has always come back since the Synodality process began, which is not to leave anyone behind.”

“Synod and communication is already a big challenge in Africa,” Bishop Badejo said in his presentation.

In the text of the presentation, which he shared with ACI Africa on Monday, November 14, the Nigerian Catholic Bishop added, “We are grateful because the Synod has actually inspired a new energy in the Church’s pastoral communication apostolate, all over Africa.”

“The African Church has always cherished the themes that come up in the Synod on Synodality, the themes of participation, of communion and of mission,” he said, making reference to the theme of the Synod, which the Holy Father has extended to 2024.


Bishop Badejo who was appointed member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication in December 2021 recalled that “the first Synod of Bishops for Africa in 1994, took place when the genocide was going on in Rwanda and the Church in Africa still had the courage to select for it's pastoral theme: The church as family of God in Africa.”

“Participation and working together is always a desire that Africa has always had,” Bishop Badejo said, and added, “The themes that have appeared in the Synod on Synodality and the synodality process have helped Africa to re-energize the values that the Church already had.”

The Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Oyo Diocese who doubles as the President of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) further said, “The values that we mentioned here give a voice to everyone working together, not leaving anyone behind and listening to one another, the whole theme of listening has been part of Africa.”

“That's exactly what happens in a good family. In a good family, only the individuals listen to one another, and even when there are differences, the family does not necessarily break up, so it has been part of Africa and that is why we are happy to own the theme that appeared in the preparatory document of the Synod: Ubuntu,” he said. 

The 61-year-old Nigerian Bishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in October 2007 as Coadjutor Bishop of Oyo Diocese added, “There is an African proverb that says whoever is not willing to learn even from the madman can never be completely wise. That means even a madman has something useful to contribute to the community and if you are not ready to listen to him, you can never truly be completely wise.”

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He continued, “The Dicastery for Communications has the task of the overall restructuring, reorganization and consolidation of all of the realities, which in various ways up to the present have dealt with communications in order to respond ever better to the needs of the mission of the Church.”

Bishop Badejo said that the “plenary was a huge learning experience for the African team” and that the “African reality and experience were duly highlighted given how Africans at the plenary pointed out that in the very spirit of synodality, no part of the Church should be left behind in the process.”

“The plenary also recognized how the values and the world view of Africa really complement the spirit of the Synod on synodality, namely communion, participation and solidarity,” he went on to say, adding, “The challenge to the Church in Africa is to harness all communication resources, from the traditional to the digital, to carry out her mission.”

Bishops Badejo said that Catholic communicators are challenged “to creatively leverage the themes and objectives of the Synod on Synodality, establish a strong network among all components of communication in the continent to collaborate with the network of the universal Church being coordinated by the Dicastery for Communications.”

In his presentation during the three-day plenary session that concluded on November 12, Bishop Badejo highlighted the importance of engaging African youth in the media.


He said, “Our young people have the energy, the generosity and the presence in the digital media to be able to engage with the media at every step, even when the Bishop is asleep, having his afternoon nap.”

The Catholic Church leader added that in engaging the youth in digital media, “We must be concerned about ethical formation.”

Just as “professionals and practitioners of media” are expected to embrace media ethics, there is need for “ethical formation that can help also those who just use or engage with the media casually,” Bishop Badejo said.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.