RWANDA: In the Spirit of Synodality “Bring a more Inclusive and Participatory Church,” SIGNIS Africa Urges Catholic Communicators

By Paschal Norbert

KIGALI, JULY 19, 2022 (CISA) – Catholic communicators in Africa have been urged in the spirit of Synodality, to make it their priority to introspect and bring about a more inclusive and participatory Church especially by bringing more women and young people into their governance structures in the just concluded SIGNIS Africa Congress and Assembly held in Kigali, Rwanda, from July 11 to 15.

The assembly convened on the theme: “Communication, Synodality and the Church in Africa,” and focused on delineating feasible ways of encouraging togetherness in the journey of faith on the African continent through various means of communication.

According to a statement sent to CISA, Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo and President of the Pan-African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS), in his keynote address observed that the ongoing process of the Synod “is a communication project that challenges media practitioners in Africa to devise practical ways of giving voice to those marginalized by some of our Church structures and in the broader society,” urging that it calls for “a new of being Church.”

The congress, which drew communication professionals from various countries in Africa advanced the following recommendations at the end of the assembly: “All Catholic communicators on the continent must constantly be aware that listening is essential. Walking together in synodality entails listening at a deeper level to all people without biases; all national episcopal conferences adopt the Nigerian and Burkina Faso model of commemorating World Day of Communication for a whole week instead of celebrating one day. The week-long commemoration spread out in parishes can be used for media education and various awareness creation activities in Church communications.”

Other recommendations put forward by the assembly also urged the communicators to understand the salient role of social communications, which is “the handmaid of the Church’s evangelizing mission.” And appealed to the wider Church to embrace and incorporate social communications in all pastoral activities.

The assembly underscored that “Synodality is about respectfully reaching out to the other.” And thus, recommended that Catholic communicators in Africa learn more than one international language and cultivate the spirit of networking as “this will help build bridges, encourage sharing of media projects, and ensure efficient engagement in our service to the Church and humanity.”

The SIGNIS Africa Congress not only brought together member participants from Africa but also His Eminence Antoine Cardinal Kambanda, the Archbishop of Kigali; Bishop Filippe Rukamba of Butare Diocese, President of the Episcopal Conference of Rwanda; Bishop Edouard Sinayobye of Cyangugu Diocese, President of the Rwandan Episcopal Commission for Communication; and representatives from the Vatican Dicastery for Communication.

According to the statement signed by Rev. Fr. Prof. Walter C. Ihejirika, the President of SIGNIS Africa, “The delegates were further enlightened about the need to see the media as a veritable and viable evangelization tool, the effective use of which will assist the Church in fulfilling its missionary mandate (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).”