Dakar (Fides Service) – Yesterday, Wednesday 1 October in Dakar (Senegal) SCEAM/SECAM began its Plenary Assembly. SECAM is the Symposium of the Bishops Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.
Present was the Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples Archbishop Robert Sarah, who in his homily during Mass on Wednesday 1 October, the feast of Saint Theresa of Lisieux, greeted the representatives of the African Church and said: “I bring you the greetings of our most venerable Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. I assure you he has not forgotten Senegal and he carries in his heart in a special way all Africa, remembering it in his daily prayer”. Recalling the missionary vocation of all Christians, the Archbishop said: “Following Saint Therese the humble nun who became the patroness of missions and a doctor of the Church, we see that mission starts in the heart, through prayer and interior contemplation of God”.
In his opening address Archbishop Sarah, who is African, said that the Church: “feels united with the destiny of all men and women on our continent and courageously faces with them all the challenges and daily situations of their life. Christianity is an integral part of Africa’s, our religious, cultural and social heritage”. Referring to the social situation on the continent, the Archbishop said: “Our people have often been fed with false promises and lies. Their living conditions have deteriorated, respect for their dignity and their freedom, as children of God have known only tribulation and deception. Faced with spreading fatalism which destroys the joy of families and the hope of our continent, the Church refuses for Africa the logic of marginalisation which is at the heart of the system of globalisation. Among great dreams of independence and lost illusions of ideologies and development, the Church in Africa proposes patiently and with determination faith in God, faith in daily life, and faith in the future and faith in man”. For this, according to the secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, “the responsibility of Bishops is mainly to build the Church on living stones, that is all the baptised, consecrated persons, laity, catechists, all the members of the Church united with men of good will”. In this context “SECAM/SCEAM must have a prophetic presence on the continent to be a real tool of communication and pastoral collaboration among the local Churches”.
Lastly Archbishop Sarah thanked Archbishop Theodore Adrien Sarr of Dakar and the inter-territorial Episcopal Conference of Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau for the warm welcome offered and the sacrifices made for the preparation of the assembly. The assembly will close on 12 October LM (Fides Service 3/10/2003 EM lines 39 Words: 484)