Bishops in Africa Shine Light on Continent's Crises, Appeal for "culture of fraternity"

Members of the Standing Committee of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) with delegates during the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Pan-African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) in Lagos, Nigeria. Credit: CEPACS

Catholic Bishops in Africa have outlined issues affecting various African countries, including poverty, inter-state conflicts, as well as coups in some places, and  appealed to the continent to nurture a “culture of fraternity”.

In a statement following their Standing Committee Meeting and the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Pan-African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) in Lagos, Nigeria, members of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) also want the crisis in the sahel region to be addressed.

In the statement shared with ACI Africa Thursday, November 29, Catholic Bishops in Africa said, “Despite the concerted efforts by numerous governments to stimulate economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-l9 pandemic - a crisis that has indelibly impacted the Continent - poverty continues to be a pervasive challenge in many countries.”

They said presentations delivered during their Lagos meeting “shed light on the worsening conditions faced by families in vulnerable circumstances.”

“These reports underscored the significant challenges confronting young people, particularly the struggles in securing employment even after years of dedicated study and skill acquisition. This situation points to a critical need for concerted action and support in these areas,” SECAM members said.


In the statement, the Catholic Bishops also expressed concern about the “occurrence of inter-state conflicts and the subsequent wars, which have tragically resulted in numerous innocent casualties, notably among children.”

“In our prayers, we solemnly remember all these victims who have tragically lost their lives due to the unchecked ambitions of certain leaders. These leaders, driven by self-interests, the agendas of their clans, or the objectives of their foreign allies, have placed these priorities above the welfare of their own nations,” the Church leaders in Africa said.

Reflecting on upcoming elections in some countries, SECAM members said, “It has become apparent that some of these elections are seemingly orchestrated to favor state-backed candidates thereby undermining the democratic process.”

On this matter, they note that “various episcopal conferences have voiced their concerns.”

The Bishops reiterated the message of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) , saying that “the stability of our country and the well-being of our people hinge significantly on the conduct of free, inclusive, transparent. and peaceful elections.”

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In the statement that SECAM President, Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), signed, Catholic Bishops in Africa expressed concern about the incidence of coups d'etats in the Sahel and Central Africa.

They said, “These occurrences contrast with the coups of the 1970s and 1980s, where the aim was predominantly the acquisition and prolonged retention of power.”

“The recent coups are characterized by a somewhat messianic intent, purportedly aimed at liberating the populace from injustices and terminating the monopoly of national wealth by entrenched political dynasties and their international allies,” they added.

SECAM members further said, “The general populace has shown support for the coup leaders, viewing these actions as an expression of deep-seated frustration and anger towards longstanding injustices.”

They noted that “these events have prompted a critical reevaluation of the longstanding geopolitical strategies imposed on African nations, particularly those rich in natural resources.”


“We stand opposed to coups d'etats, a position that aligns with the teachings of the Church, which firmly rejects the seizure of power through force,” the Bishops said, and continued, “The Church advocates for democracy, a system that facilitates citizen participation in political decision-making and ensures that the governed have the ability to select, oversee, and, when necessary, peacefully replace their leaders.”

While acknowledging that democracy is not flawless, SECAM members said, “It is our belief that compared to other forms of governance, democracy is preferable.”

They said the situation in the Sahel and Central Africa, “calls for discernment.” 

“The Church remains deeply concerned about the well-being of the people in these regions, particularly those who have shown support for the interim governments formed in the wake of recent coups d'etats,” the Bishops said.

They said, “Africa is at a crossroad. And we are called to establish a culture of fraternity.”

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“This is in line with Pope Francis' repeated exhortations to build bridges of brotherhood. Such efforts are essential for inducing new vitality and spirit into our continent. By embracing and fostering this sense of fraternity, we can pave the way for a more unified and thriving Africa,” SECAM members said. 

They implored, “May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Africa, intercede for us in order that justice and peace may reign in Africa.”

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.