By Charles Igwe
Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, the Archbishop of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), has highlighted the significance of SECAM as a practical experience of synodality in the African Church.
Celebrating SECAM Day with the theme “SECAM, a practical experience of synodality,” Cardinal Ambongo underlined the purpose of SECAM as a platform to promote communion, joint action, and collaboration among all the Episcopal Conferences in Africa and Madagascar. The founding fathers envisioned SECAM as a symbol of unity and fellowship, seeking to foster bonds of communion, familyhood, teamwork, and community sharing, modeled after the image of the Church as the family of God.
Cardinal Ambongo urged all African Bishops to embrace and take ownership of SECAM, emphasizing that the continental association plays a vital role in expressing the collective identity of African Catholics at the universal level of the Church. Without SECAM, he warned, the voice and concerns of the African Church would be diminished on both the continental and global stages.
SECAM, established by African Bishops on July 29, 1969, and formally launched by Pope Saint Paul VI on July 31, 1969, at the Rubaga Cathedral in Kampala, Uganda, emerged from the desire of young African Bishops during the Second Vatican Council. The Bishops sought to establish a continental pastoral structure that would convey the African vision to the entire Church.
As SECAM commemorates 54 years of existence, Cardinal Ambongo called on African Bishops and the African Church to reaffirm their commitment to SECAM and uphold its original ideals. Emphasizing the importance of funding the association fully, he reminded the Bishops that SECAM belongs to them and embodies collegiality, solidarity, and communion.
By supporting SECAM, the African Church ensures its relevance and effectiveness in addressing the continent’s pressing issues at both the continental and local levels, reaffirming its role as a vibrant and active participant in the global Catholic community.