Official of Synod of Bishops Advocates for “An African theology of synodality”

Mario Cardinal Grech addressing delegates during the opening ceremony of the March 1-6 SECAM Plenary Assembly taking place in Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa. Credit: ACI Africa

The Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops is advocating for “an African theology of synodality”, which he says would have a positive impact to the Catholic Church across the globe.

In his speech at the ongoing Plenary Assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) on Thursday, March 2, Mario Cardinal Grech acknowledged with appreciation the “significant resources” on the African continent that can benefit the Universal Church. 

“The Church in Africa, Madagascar, and the Islands possesses significant resources to contribute to the Universal Church engaged in this process of synodality,” Cardinal Grech told delegates of the March 1-6 Plenary Assembly being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

The resources can build up what the Maltese-born Cardinal referred to as “an African theology of synodality”, which he said “could be a lasting contribution to the development of a synodal church in the Third Millennium.”

The African theology of synodality would be generated by “the valid contribution that academics can offer (but also) to the theology elaborated by the entire people of God considering that the holy people of God is the subject of the theological and pastoral discernment,” Cardinal Grech said, adding, “The holy people of God is the protagonist of this Synodal process.”


The contribution of an African theology of synodality to the Universal Church would be based on the principle of listening that is guiding the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality, he said.

“We must listen to the people of God, even to the people of God in the African continent,” the 66-year-old Cardinal who started his Episcopal Ministry in January 2006 as Bishop of Gozo in Malta further said.

The Synodal process that is currently at the continental phase involves "mutual listening, in which each one has something to learn,” he further told delegates of the SECAM Plenary Assembly, who are expected to prepare the draft of the African Synod Document.

Listening, the Bishop emeritus of Gozo Diocese emphasized, “is the basis for the entire synodal process, articulated in the stages that the apostolic constitution Episcopalis Communio established, transforming the Synod from an event into a process.”

“For many, listening corresponds to a useless waste of time, which favors and even justifies those in the Church who want to create controversy, allowing them to shove spokes in the wheels,” Cardinal Grech said March 2.

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He continued, “It would be strange, however, for us to pretend to mature a true consensus in a Synod on synodality, indeed on the synodal Church, without having fully practiced the principle that supports and regulates the exercise of synodality.”

The continental stage of the Synodal process “must become more attentive to the voices 'within' the Church, specifically those voices which agitate and often disturb the ecclesial body,” Cardinal Grech said.

The Catholic Church leader who was appointed Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops in September 2020 continued, “We must not be afraid to engage in discussion among ourselves: it is not our arguments that will convince us, but the Holy Spirit who leads the Church into all truth.” 

“We are all called, in conscience, to give our response: from those who are deeply convinced to those who still harbor doubts to those who are openly opposed. It is not by speaking against the synod process outside the places of listening that we build communion. No one is prevented from speaking,” the Catholic Church leader who was elevated to Cardinal in November 2020 said.

Meanwhile, in his speech at the opening of the Plenary Assembly of SECAM, the Archbishop of Addis Ababa urged the people of God in Africa strive for justice for all, raising voices on behalf of the marginalized on the continent.


The Church in Africa, Berhaneyesus Cardinal Souraphiel said, “needs to be a voice to the voiceless and her pastoral priorities are African priorities which reflects the African values of family, values of communities, human dignity, protection of nature, and self-reliance.”

“We Hope and pray that these days of continental assembly will help us and the Church in Africa, which is the family of God, to listen deeply to the voice of the Holy Spirit, to be faithful to the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and to listen to each other so that we can be true instruments of peace and evangelization,” the Ethiopian Cardinal said.

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