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.”
“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.