African synod: priorities

by Andrew Kaufa smm

The synodal way can be hard but is absolutely necessary. Sometimes difficult conversations arise among brothers and sisters. This was the experience of many when it came to the discernment of priority issues for the Church in Africa.

As a matter of fact, the mood in the auditorium of De Leopol Hotel in Addis Ababa could as well be described as tense on Saturday afternoon when delegates reconvened to pass the draft Africa Synod document.

Prioritising cross-cutting topics

However, as usual with spiritual discernment, picking few priorities out of fifteen proved a challenge. For the facilitating team of the Saturday afternoon session, it was a hustle to guide the assembly towards consensus on the eight cross-cutting topics.

After much listening, eventually, a synthesis of the contributions from the fifteen working groups highlighted the following priority areas for the Church in Africa:

1.      Family pastoral care that focuses on present-day challenges such as divorce, broken marriages and re-married people, elective and circumstantial single parents.

2.     Deepening African cultural values as already enshrined in the concept of the Church as family of God since the first African synod in 1995, with no disregard to the doctrine of the Church.

3.     Consideration of the African communitarian culture as expressed in philosophies such as Ubuntu, Ujamaa, Indaba and Palaver where co-responsibility and subsidiarity are key principles.

4.     Commitment to fighting against the exploitation of natural resources which often leads to wars and social conflicts on the continent.

5.     Promoting liturgical renewal for active participation of the faithful with respect to the guidelines of divine worship.

6.    Formation of the people of God where the notion of inclusivity is emphasized as a way of promoting synodality in Church governance.

7.     Promoting the inclusion of women, the youth and all groups of the people of God that feel marginalized.

8.    Ecological justice and stewardship as a way of living a synodal change in order to address the ecological crisis.

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