SECAM Plenary Assembly Ends with Commitment to “engender new forms of leadership”

Members of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) during the closing Mass of their Plenary Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Credit: ACI Africa

Members of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) have, in their communiqué at the end of their March 1-6 SECAM Plenary Assembly, taken the commitment to “engender new forms of leadership” in the Church in Africa.

In their Sunday, March 5 message delivered at the St. Gabriel Parish of the Archdiocese of Addis Ababa, Catholic Bishops in Africa and Madagascar describe the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality in Africa as “an experience of lived synodality – a moment of profound dialogue, listening and discernment among local churches and with the Universal Church.”

“To overcome and root out the weeds of clericalism, authoritarianism and indifference, we desire to engender new forms of leadership – be they Priestly, Episcopal, Religious and Lay,” members of SECAM say in their message read out by Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo of Nigeria’s Oyo Diocese.

Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo of Nigeria’s Oyo Diocese. Credit: ACI Africa

In their communiqué, the Catholic Church leaders who brought together some 200 delegates of the Africa Synodal Continental Assembly express the desire to “form the Synodal Family of God in the practice of integral and life-giving leadership that is relational and collaborative, and capable of generating solidarity and co-responsibility.”


To achieve this, SECAM members say, “the Synodal Family of God in Africa pledges to create spaces and enlarge our tent for the possible exercise of various forms of lay ministry.”

Credit: ACI Africa

“The Synodal Family of God desires to grow in a spirituality that will sustain the practice of synodality, a spirituality that enables the Synodal Church to grow in interiority and conscience and in encountering and listening to the Holy Spirit,” Catholic Bishops who are drawn from the eight regional associations of the continental symposium further say. 

Credit: ACI Africa

They also express their “desire to encourage and establish synodal practices at all levels of the Church in Africa. We desire to birth a culture of synodality as a habitual way of proceeding in the Church.”

More in Africa

“As the Synodal Family of God in Africa, we are a learning church,” SECAM members further say, and continue, “We do not walk alone: we have things that we can learn from others. Enlivened by the spirit of interculturality, ecumenism and interfaith encounter, we walk together with others, appreciating cultural differences, understanding those particularities as elements which help us to grow.”

Credit: ACI Africa

In their collective message following the six-day meeting of delegates of the Continental Synodal Assembly who expected to prepare the draft of the African Synod Document, SECAM members acknowledge with appreciation the listening spirit that characterized the Plenary Assembly. 

“With courage and joy, confidence and humility, we listened to one another and to the Holy Spirit. In a spirit of discernment, we listened to what the People of God from around the world said in the first year of the Synod,” they say.

The Catholic Church leaders add, “In prayer and silence, we discerned the intuitions, discussed the questions and themes and identified the calls of our synodal journey in order to prepare an African Synodal Document that represents the authentic voice of Africa.” 


Credit: ACI Africa

“At the end of this Continental Synodal Assembly, SECAM finalized the contribution of the Church in Africa to the General Secretariat of the Synod in Rome for the purposes of drafting a working document,” SECAM members further say. 

They go on to highlight some of the fruits of the Plenary Assembly, saying, “The Synodal Continental Assembly has confirmed the Church's way of doing things in Africa. The Family of God in Africa is firmly rooted in the synodal dynamic.”

“Synodality is no longer a remote desire, a faint hope or a distant future objective. We have tasted the nourishing fruits of synodality by encountering, dialoguing with and listening to one another, and all together listening to the Holy Spirit,” they say, and continue, “We are the Church in synod: the Family of God is our Tent in Africa.”

Credit: ACI Africa

(Story continues below)

SECAM members describe the African Synodal Family as “an open-ended space of gathering … that stretches out, and includes all our differences, diversity, tensions and forces; welcomes others and makes room for their diversity; empties herself, but without losing the foundations and fundamentals of our faith; and a Church that can move.”

The Synodal process, they note, is an opportunity to discover “new seeds of growth” in Africa.

“Our continent is blessed with rich principles and values of our cultures and traditions,” Catholic Bishops in Africa and Madagascar say, adding, “These principles and values are good and healthy seeds for the birth and growth of a truly synodal Church in Africa and in the world.”

Credit: ACI Africa

They express their commitment “to building a synodal Church in Africa as a Family where all belong and feel at home”, an endeavor the Catholic Bishops say can be achieved through the strength of the Holy Spirit, common discernment, and spiritual conversation.

Credit: ACI Africa

“As the Synodal Family of God in Africa, we want to walk together joyfully. We thank God who has brought us together and guided us by the Spirit of the Risen Christ,” SECAM members say.

They add, “This is a time to rejoice: let us not allow the weeds to hinder us; let us allow the Holy Spirit to lead us forward to continue to sow new seeds and harvest abundant fruits of synodality.”

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.