ZIMBABWE: IMBISA’s Synodal Report Recommends Reconciliation of Faith and Culture

By Odiwuor Opiyo

HARARE, DECEMBER 2, 2022 (CISA) – The Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) has expressed, “an urgent need for further progress in enculturation in various dimensions of African life and not only at the liturgical level, to reconcile faith and culture.”

In a summary of the Synodal Process in Southern Africa region posted on its website, the region identified a few areas that require special and urgent attention including the influence of African Culture on the church.

“This Synodal experience helped our Church to evaluate her process of inclusion, listening, and the involvement of all God’s people and all people of good will. It allowed us to clearly identify the joys and difficulties of the communities. It taught us that Synodality is not a content to be assimilated, but essentially, it is a lifestyle of the Church that must be cultivated and born of the perfect community, which is the Holy Trinity,” reads a section of the 11 page report.

Other significant areas highlighted are the youth and the family with IMBISA stating that, “The relationship between young people and the church is something that needs reflection and development in the areas of catechetical programs, good preaching, creation of an open environment, good liturgy and deeper spirituality.”

The reports also indicates that “There is a general concern that many young people will leave the church after confirmation, if they get there,” and reasons presented by respondents are hostility towards young people, intergenerational conflict, role of parents, teenage pregnancy, moral teachings of the church, temptations in the broader world, lifestyle choices, and lack of attractiveness of the church.

On family, the IMBISA synodal report maintained that, “more emphasis needs to be placed on the formation of the family as a domestic church.”

The scope of the Synodal process linked to the family, phenomena such as traditional marriage, polygamy, de facto unions, divorce, separation, remarriage and single parenthood, all which require a pastoral approach urgently.

“Another Conference maintains that Christians feel that the Church does not deal sufficiently with the problems related to marriage, as is the case of divorce and separation. Ecclesiastical courts should be more active. They think that the church’s non-recognition of traditional marriages should be reviewed,” the summary reads in part.

Constituted in 1978, IMBISA connects Bishops’ Conferences in the Southern Africa comprising Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Africa and Zimbabwe.