By Paschal Norbert
NAIROBI, JULY 22, 2022 (CISA) – “In this process of ongoing reception, you theologians will play a vital role and this is my challenge to you today. The church in Africa, Madagascar and the Islands possess significant resources to enrich and contribute to the process of Synodality. The religious, cultural, and philosophical traditions of Africa have such rich examples of resources, values and practices that really can correlate with the concept of Synodality,” said Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops on July 19.
In a video message sent to the participants of the II Biannual Pan-African Catholic Congress on Theology, Society and Pastoral Life meeting in Nairobi, Cardinal Grech stressed that for Synodality to be received deeply into the life and the mission of the church, “theological investigation and theological education into a Synodal imagination is really needed.”
“You African Theologians, you have an important task and a significant contribution to make for the renewal of a Synodal church. An African Theology of Synodality would be a lasting contribution to the development of a Synodal church in the third millennium. Your African contribution in your continent can bring a solid contribution to the whole church,” emphasized the bishop emeritus of Gozo, Malta.
The Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops postulated to the African Catholic theologians and pastoral leaders that the bishops needed their expertise in all the fields and areas of theological studies to deepen their understanding and practice of Synodality.
“You may also place your expertise at the service of Bishops to prepare for the next phase of the Synodal process; The Continental Synodal Assemblies. In this process of Synodality, you also have an indispensable role to play in the subsequent phases of implementation and in ensuring that Synodality really becomes a way of life which God expects of the church for the third millennium,” advised Cardinal Grech.
“For this to happen, your work as theologians’ entails studying and promoting the spirituality of journeying together so that it becomes an educational principle for the formation of the human person and of the Christian, of the families and of the communities,” he added.
Moreover, Cardinal Grech advanced that for Theology to serve the mission of the church, it must be grounded in the Sensus Fidelium. The sense of the faith and the sense of the faithful, which he says is “intimate sense of spiritual realities which believers experience.”
“The Synodal spirit is alive in Africa. It is rooted. Rooted in the diverse and acculturated ways of being a church in the local context as stated in the vision of Synodality, Rooted in an African Ecclesial Context, a document produced by the International Colloquium on Synodality that was convened on April 22. Our contribution to the Synod on Synodality must include our African cultural values expressed in terms like Ubuntu, Ujamaa, Baraza, Palaver etc. [Inaudible] dialogue that is inspired by the family spirit and related to nature our ancestors and the desired future for Africa,” averred Cardinal Grech.
Cardinal Mario Grech also encouraged the participants of the congress organized by the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTPAN) “to develop formation programs in your respective institutions of higher learning for people especially those who hold lots of responsibility within the Christian communities, to make them more capable of journeying together and to assimilate the cardinal principles of Synodality such as discernment, individual discernment, ecclesial discernment, listening to one another and engaging in dialogue.”