Pretoria (Agenzia Fides) – The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) has on January 28, 2020 launched the Kampala Document which captures the experiences of the bishops of the Church in Africa during the 18th SECAM plenary which coincided with the celebration of the organization’s 50th anniversary.
The first vice President of SECAM, the Bishop of Umtata, His Exc. Mgr. Sithembele Anton Sipuka, presented the 100-page Document via videoconference from Pretoria, South Africa.
The Kampala Document is themed under the 19th Plenary Assembly "That They May Know Christ And Have Life in Abundance" and synthesizes the contributions of the bishops of Africa during the Plenary which was held at Munyonyo Speke Resort in Kampala, Uganda, from 19th to 29th July, 2019 and comes out “as a reminder of the Golden Jubilee celebration” and a call “for renewed commitment to the mission, with new mentalities and pastoral strategies. During the Golden jubilee and the Plenary, the African bishops who gathered from all the 8 regions that comprise SECAM’s membership on the continent emphasized that given the current challenges facing the continent, the mission of the Church-Family-of-God in Africa is to bring to the people hope as inspired by Christian faith and “to act so that people on the continent may experience the joy of the Kingdom of God".
The Document is divided into three main parts. In the first part, the Kampala Document captures the history of the mission of the Church in Africa from the times of Christ through the patristic age to July 1969 when Pope Paul VI came to launch the birth of SECAM. Here, the bishops looked at the previous plenary resolutions since 1970 and appreciated what SECAM has achieved in the last 50 years.
Notable achievement are in areas such as in the formation of ecclesial agents of evangelization; the formation of the laity; the collaboration of the Catholic Church with other churches and non-Christian religions; the question of Christian marriages and family life; the Biblical apostolate and the foundation of Biblical Institute of Africa and Madagascar (BICAM); use of modern means for evangelization; need for integral evangelization; and the role of the Church in promoting justice, peace and reconciliation.
In the second part, it is emphasized how today the Church-Family-God in Africa ought to find ways to continue growing, hence “a call to live in Christ, to a new birth and witnessing as a life rooted in Christ; and to building the Church as a family of God. In this part, the document captures the bishops’ discussion regarding what it means today, in concrete terms, to encounter Jesus Christ and to know him; to live a Christian life that truly bears witness; and to be a Church in the ecclesiological model of ‘family of God’".
In the third part, the document proposes the way forward, underlining the need for the Church in Africa to find new methods of proclaiming the Gospel so as to transform the African continent which is faced by so many challenges including the negative effects of globalization and education. "The Gospel of the Crucified and Risen Christ is our strength", the African bishops said, and so the document reads, "Christ invites us to change our mentality; to consider new pastoral challenges; and to rethink our formation for a new method of proclaiming the Gospel".
"We urge all the people of God to see the Jubilee of SECAM as a Kairos for a new life in Christ; to receive this (Kampala) document as a pastoral instrument for a new missionary commitment after the example of Christ", the Bishops exhort. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 4/2/2021)