The joint seminar bringing together representatives of Catholic bishops in Africa and in Europe kicks off in in the Kenyan capital with a special focus on young people.
Representatives of the European and African bishops are gathered in Nairobi this week, for their seventh joint seminar bringing together the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE)
SECAM-CCEE Seminars started in 2004 to foster deeper communion and solidarity between the Churches of Africa and Europe.
Since their inception “collaboration has become a vital platform for dialogue and mutual understanding,” said SECAM’s Secretary General, Father Rafael Simbine Junior, in a press statement released ahead of the event.
Focus on listening to young people
The meeting, running from 23-26 January, is organized under the theme, “Synodality: Africa and Europe Walking Together”, and will have a special focus “on listening to the voices of young people in both continents, recognizing their crucial role in shaping the future of the Church”.
According to the statement, it will “ build upon the rich discussions of the past while looking ahead to new horizons in the Church’s mission within an increasingly globalized context.”
The proceedings were opened on Wednesday by the welcome address of Archbishop Philip Arnold Subira Anyolo of Nairobi, followed by the introductory remarks of SECAM and CCEE presidents.
Topics discussed and key speakers
Among the highlights of the seminar are presentations and discussions on understanding the emerging Synodal Church in the context of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Constitution ‘Praedicate Evangelium’ on the Roman Curia and its service to the Church in the world.
Participants will also seek “insights into the continental impressions of the first session of the Synod on Synodality” that was held in Rome in October 2023 concluding with a Synthesis Report.
Keynote speakers include Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, Archbishop Gintaras Grusas of Vilnius (Lithuania) , Bishop Lucio Andrice Muandula of Xai-Xai (Mozambique), Archbishop Alexandre Joly of Rennes (France) and Bishop Bernardine Francis Mfumbusa of Kondoa (Tanzania).
The second day of the proceedings include discussions on the topic “How the Church can listen to young people in Africa and Europe in light of the synodal process”, and the release of the final statement and a closing Mass on Friday .
African and European bishops’ commitment to synodality
“The seminar signifies a continued commitment to the spirit of synodality and mutual enrichment between the Churches of Africa and Europe,” said Fr. Simbine in his statement. “ It stands as a testament to the power of dialogue and collaboration across continents, seeking to understand and address the unique challenges and opportunities presented in both contexts.”
He further emphasized that this collaboration is all the more important today, in light of the present global critical situation: “As the world faces unprecedented changes and challenges, the Church’s role in promoting justice, peace, and solidarity becomes ever more crucial,” he said. “This seminar embodies that role, providing a platform for shared learning and cooperative action between these two vital limbs of the Universal Church.”
The previous virtual meeting in 2021
The Nairobi Seminar was originally scheduled to take place in 2021, but the African and European Church representatives were only able to meet virtually due to the COVID-I9 pandemic. In their final statement, they encouraged the fostering of inter-religious dialogue in their respective continents heeding Pope Francis’s call to universal fraternity friendship, solidarity and peaceful coexistence, as expressed in his 2020 Encyclical Letter, Fratelli Tutti.