Catholic Bishops in Africa to Focus on “practical experience of Synodality” on SECAM Day

Delegates during the March 1-6 SECAM Plenary Assembly in Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa. Credit: ACI Africa

Members of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) are expected to deliberate on the “practical experience” of the Synod on Synodality on the occasion of the annual SECAM Day.

In a Wednesday, July 26 goodwill message to the People of God, SECAM members announce the theme of the July 29- 30 celebration of SECAM Day 2023.

“This year we are celebrating SECAM Day with the theme: SECAM, a practical experience of synodality,” Catholic Bishops in Africa say in the message shared with ACI Africa.

They add, “The ongoing synodal journey in the Universal Church motivates us to rediscover the treasure behind the formation of SECAM.”

“In the mind of the Founding Fathers, this Symposium exists to preserve, foster and promote communion, joint action and collaboration among all the Episcopal Conferences of the entire Africa and Madagascar,” they say in their message.


The Catholic Bishops in Africa note that “the walking together that the synodal process is inviting us to now, has been a reality that SECAM has sought to live since its foundation.”

“By choosing the word Symposium, the Founding Fathers of SECAM wanted to emphasize their desire of communion and fellowship,” they say, and continue, “The bonds of communion, familyhood, teamwork, community sharing, and togetherness, which has characterized SECAM since its foundation, led to the choice of the image of the Church as the family of God.”

SECAM members further say, “The Fathers of the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops recommended the image of the Church as the family of God, because this image emphasizes care for others, solidarity, warmth in human relationships, acceptance, dialogue and trust.”

“If we talk about collegiality and communion in the Church, it makes sense that it should first exist and operate at local levels, which includes the continental level, for it to be meaningful at the universal level,” SECAM members say.

They continue, “The universal Church is too big to offer an experiential sense of what it means to be in communion and solidarity. A meaningful universal communion is better mediated through a continental body like SECAM.”

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“The African continental level provides a stage to experience communion, distill our thoughts and identify the main concerns and issues, whether pastoral, formative, political, or social,” they add.

As individuals, the Catholic Bishops in Africa say, “We will be lost and rendered irrelevant at the universal level of the Church. We cannot express at the universal level of the church our being African Catholics without SECAM.”

“If we do not own SECAM and use it to expose and express the African identity of the Church, we are making the universal Church deficient because, its fullness, lies in all nations and tribes being at home in this Church,” they warn.

In their statement that SECAM President Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo signed, the Catholic Bishops in Africa say, “The Church is called to address issues at the continental level, which no individual bishop or conference can do alone.”

“Bishops can make their contribution to the reshaping of the continent when they are in communion through SECAM,” they add.


In not supporting SECAM, the Catholic Bishops say, “We risk rendering the Church irrelevant at the continental level and indeed at the Diocesan and Conference levels, because the issues affecting the continent have an enormous impact at the local level.”

“The 19th Plenary Assembly of SECAM and the ongoing synodal process are an invitation to renew our love and commitment to this continental institution of ours,” they say.

The Catholic Bishops in Africa add, “Let us, then, all move together, Bishops, Priests, Religious Men and Women and Laypersons, and make our SECAM great and strong, known, loved and supported in its mission to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to all Africans and the people of its Islands.”

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.