By Paschal Nobert
NAIROBI, JANUARY 27, 2023 (CISA)- Rev Fr Rafael Simbine Junior, Secretary General of The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), and Moderator of the African Synodality Team has revealed that the Continental Synodal Plenary Assembly will be held in the first week of March 2023, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In a press conference held at the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM), AFRICAMA House, Nairobi, from January 23 to 26, 2023, Fr Simbine said the meeting was a preparatory working session that brought together all “the participants who came from all the regions that comprise SECAM,” who “took some time to share their experiences of the work done at home following the first working session, which took place from 6th to 9th December in Accra (Ghana).”
According to Fr Simbine, the objectives of this second preparatory meeting were “to present and listen to the results of the spiritual conversation conducted by participants in Working Session I for parishioners, neighbours, friends, colleagues, and facilitators of diocesan and national Synodal groups; to reflect anew on the Document for the Continental Stage…, to rework the African Synodal Document to enrich it with the new elements collected; to receive an update from the Regional Secretaries on the current situation of the regional delegates to the Continental Assembly and to present and discuss the proposed programme for the Continental Assembly.”
Following the presentation and release of the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS) by the General Secretariat of Synod on October 27, 2022, which “is the fruit of the Syntheses resulting from the consultation of the People of God in the first phase of the synodal process,” Fr Simbine advanced that the document has augmented the draft of the African Synod Document.
“The new elements gathered from the reports of the work done at home and the reflection on the Document of the Continental Stage enriched this draft, which is still a work in progress,” he said.
The Secretary General of SECAM also said the African synodality team that is planning the continental assembly has agreed on a formula that will satisfy the need ‘that the delegates to the African Plenary Assembly represent all of Africa, the Islands and all the African realities.”
“About 200 persons will participate in the Plenary Assembly as follows: 108 lay people (44 adults – 22 women and 22 men; 36 young people -18 young women and 18 young men; 5 novices, 5 seminarians,” he said.
“The participants also include 10 Religious women, 6 religious’ men, 32 priests, 13 bishops, 10 cardinals, and 4 delegates from other faith groups. Technical personnel: 4 from the African Synodality Initiative (ASI), and 11 from communications/ Catholic media,” he added.
According to the General Secretariat of the Synod, these Continental Synodal Assemblies, which are to be held between January and March 2023, will be convened to reread the journey made and to continue the listening and discernment, having as their point of departure the Document for the Continental Stage, and proceeding in accord with the socio-cultural specificities of their respective regions.
However, Fr Simbine contends that “no one has the answers to all the questions” raised by the faithful from the local churches as captured in the continental document. He, therefore, appeals to all to continue to journey together in this process of spiritual conversation.
The African Synodality Initiative (ASI) is a collaboration of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM), the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa & Madagascar (SECAM) and the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA).
ASI’s goal is to support the formation of the faithful and to convene various groups to reflect critically on synodality from an African perspective.