ETHIOPIA: Bishops Aim for observer status at AU

ADDIS ABABA, FEBRUARY 27, 201(CISA)-African Catholic bishops have made a major step towards representation at the African Union with the appointment of a liaison between the AU and the symposium of African bishop’s conferences.

Bernhanu Tamene Woldeyohannes was on February 23 appointed head of the office for relations between the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and the African Union.

Woldeyaohannes’ Addis Ababa office “will facilitate the signing of a memorandum of understanding for SECAM observer status at the African Union,” the bishops announced.

“This is in line with the goals of the Catholic Church in Africa in contributing to the building of a unified, integrated, strong, democratic, well governed, developed, prosperous, righteous, peaceful and respected Africa,” CNA  quoted SECAM in a statement.
SECAM was designed during the Second Vatican Council as a means for African bishops to speak with one voice despite language, cultural, and historical differences, and held its first meeting in 1969 during Bl. Paul VI’s visit to Uganda; the African Union gathers all African States except Morocco.

The Holy See is a non-member state accredited to the African Union, and the establishment of a SECAM observer at the union could enhance the Holy See’s participation in the organization.

Woldeyohannes will likely collaborate justice and peace and economic commissions, aiming to promote African development in line with the AU’s “Agenda 2063”, intended to reignite a sense of unity, self-reliance, integration and solidarity that moved the African independence movements of the 1960s.

He has been head of the Ethiopian bishops’ justice and peace department, and work in their community development program.

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