The 17 the Plenary Assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagscar popularly known as SECAM opened officially Tuesday 19th with a Mass presided over by the President of the Assembly, Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi. He is the Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Lubango here in Angola.
There are more than 150 African Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and Secretaries General of regional and national episcopal conferences attending the plenary assembly. Almost all African episcopal conferences are represented here.
The Bishops are looking to deepen their appreciation of the two Synods on the Family that took place at the Vatican in 2014 and 2015. As you know, these two Synods culminated in Pope Francis’ highly acclaimed Apostolic Exhortation, Amris Laetitia.
Yet the Church in Africa, way back in 1994 during the African Synod described the African Church as family –the Church as family. So for the Bishops gathered here, this familiar ground but it is also new in that there are new challenges facing the African family. The Church needs a pastoral response to these challenges.
At the end of an intensive first day, Tuesday, the Bishops last night also took time to visit an art exhibition of religious objects and artefacts housed in the old Church property known as the the Igreja da Misericordia or simply the Church of Mercy. Archdiocesan.
By evening time, the Bishops were more relaxed and they joked and shared jokes with one another. That is just another aspect of these meetings. The Bishops meet as colleagues to share not only the serious matters of the Church but also to share their friendship and to affirm one another in the mission as shepherds of the Church.
From the SECAM Plenary Assembly in Luanda, Angola I am Fr Paul Samasumo