KENYA: “Synodality is not a Matter of Discussing the Doctrine of the Church,” Cameroonian Archbishop Says, “Nobody Should Be Afraid”

By Paschal Norbert

NAIROBI, MARCH 28, 2023 (CISA) – Most Rev Andrew Nkea Fuanya of the Catholic Diocese of Bamenda, Cameroon, and member of the Synod Council has appealed to the clergy and faithful in Africa and beyond to be open to the Synodal process in that Synodality is not about changing the doctrines of the Catholic Church but a way of “talking with everybody.”

“We should be open. We read in the Gospel of John that the Spirit blows wherever it wills. It’s like the wind. We hear it. We don’t know where it’s coming from. We don’t know where it is going. That is how it is with the spirit. One of the things our faith tells us is that the spirit can never lead us to the wrong path. The evil spirit can, but the Holy Spirit can never lead us down the wrong path. So, we should not be afraid. The Holy Spirit will never push us to a decision, which is against the faith or our cultural values,” said Archbishop Nkea in an interview with CISA on the sidelines of the Synodality Resource Team Workshop held in Nairobi from March 15 to 16, 2023.

“We should trust the Holy Spirit and in this way, we should be open to various ideas. The last thing I want to say is that synodality is not a matter of discussing the doctrine of the church. It’s not a council that has to come and change Church teachings. It is a way of being church and a way of talking with everybody, but we should also understand that the Holy Father has not called a council to change doctrine or to discuss doctrine from that point of view, nobody should be afraid because all the processes we are talking about, all the ideas people are bringing on board, listen to them but from the backdrop that we are not changing the doctrine of the church and that’s not within the synodal context,” he clarifies.

The President of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (NECC) stated that the idea that synodality will introduce new concepts into the Church is misguided. He advances that the process is firmly rooted in the spirit of communion, participation and mission, and that synodality empowers and does not impoverish.

“The idea behind this message was the fact that many people misunderstood synodality as a democratization of the Church. But synodality is very far from that. Synodality has to do with journeying together and when you journey together with your people, it is wealth. When you journey together and your people have confidence in you, it is a great wealth for the local church and the people feel part of the church. The people feel that the church is theirs, and so they do a lot of things for their church,” he says.

Archbishop Nkea posits that with the completion of the diocesan, episcopal and continental phases of the Synod, a lot has been explained about synodality in the lead-up to the universal phase, which will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican in October 2023.

“But before the October Synod, we will have already made the Instrumentum Laboris. All these things are explanations of what synodality is supposed to be, and by the time we get to the universal phase, I think there’ll be a lot of clarifications. So, the process just needs to move on. People will be understanding gradually, and I think being a new process in the church, the church also needs a lot of patience with the people who are not understanding,” urged the archbishop.