Africa “deeply grateful”: Catholic Bishops on 10 Years of Pope Francis’ Pontificate

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The people of God in Africa are “deeply grateful” to Pope Francis for his service to Global Catholicism in the last 10 years, the leadership of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) has said.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa Sunday, March 12, the eve of the 10th anniversary since Pope Francis was elected Pope, the President of SECAM acknowledges with appreciation the closeness of the Holy Father to the people of God in Africa and the Islands shown by his four pastoral visits “as a pilgrim of hope” among other gestures.

“On behalf of the Church in Africa and the Islands, I offer you my congratulations and best wishes for the celebration of the 10th anniversary of your Petrine mission,” Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo says.

Cardinal Ambongo adds, “Your Holiness, during these 10 years, Africa has had the joy of welcoming you on four occasions.”

“The Continent is deeply grateful to you for coming to us as a pilgrim of hope, and praying with us for peace, justice and reconciliation and helping us to raise our voices for our economic independence,” the Congolese Cardinal says in his two-page letter dated March 12.


Pope Francis was elected on 13 March 2013 and officially began his pastoral ministry as Bishop of Rome and head of the Universal Church on 19 March 2013, on the Solemnity of St. Joseph.

In his “Congratulatory Message”, the President of SECAM says that the 10 years of Pope Francis’ Pontificate have been marked by his “special attention to the Lord Jesus' preferred ones: the poor, migrants, refugees and all those who live in geographical and existential peripheries.”

“And here you have touched with hand and heart the 1,340,598,147 inhabitants of Africa who live in these challenging situations,” the Local Ordinary of Kinshasa Archdiocese in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) further says.

He continues, “Revealing yourself as an apostle of divine mercy, you proclaimed the Extraordinary Jubilee, in the hope of seeing the face of a Church that rediscovers the bowels of mercy and goes out to meet the many wounded in need of listening, understanding and love (God is mercy, p.86).”

In the ten years of Pope Francis’ leadership, the Congolese member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (OFM Cap) says, “We have seen the development of a missionary option which, by transforming everything, makes customs, language and the whole ecclesial structure become a channel for evangelisation of the present world rather than a means of self-preservation (EG, n.27).”

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“These are ten years of prophetic and servant leadership that goes beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church and dialogues with the whole world,” Cardinal Ambongo says in his “Congratulatory Message” addressed to the Holy Father. 

Making reference to Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on human fraternity and social friendship, Fratelli Tutti, Cardinal Ambongo recalls the words of the Holy Father, saying, "If we want a more fraternal world, we must educate the new generations to recognize, value and love all people regardless of their physical proximity, regardless of the point on earth where each one was born or lives.”

He adds, “Human ecology is inseparable from the notion of the common good, a principle that plays a central and unifying role in social ethics.”

The Catholic Church leader who had been serving as SECAM Vice-President and has succeeded the late Richard Kuuia Cardinal Baawobr who died in November 2022, months after he had been elected SECAM President, outlines activities on the continent to mark the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ Pontificate.

“During the period from 11 March 2023 to 19 March 2023, various liturgical and para-liturgical celebrations will be held in all corners of the African continent and its Islands in thanksgiving for the gift of your pontificate.”


The celebrations are “also as a way of renewing our adherence to the teachings of the Bishop of Rome and our affection for Pope Francis,” he says.

“Your Holiness, the Church in Africa prays for your health and your ministry,” the President of SECAM who was among Catholic Church leaders elevated to Cardinal by Pope Francis in   October 2019 says in his March 12 Congratulatory Message.

Other Church leaders in Africa have lauded Pope Francis as a champion of inclusivity, a great source of inspiration through speeches, works, teachings, and writings, and a “Mother Teresa Moment”.

Pope Francis has also been acknowledged for inspiring the ministry to the marginalized, including migrants and refugees. 

His decision to appoint three women for the first time to the Vatican Dicastery of Bishops, the office responsible for evaluating new members of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy, has also been acknowledged, and lauded as an “important development”.

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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.