The African Synod on Synodality Assembly taking place in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) entered the second working session as Prayers, Reflection, Spiritual Conversation and sharing on Document for the Continental Stage (DCS) remained key items on the delegates’ programme.
The first item on the agenda was the eucharist which was presided over by Antoine Cardinal Kambanda, the Archbishop of Kigali in Rwanda. The Cardinal opened up the day by reminding the participants of the need to foster listening. He expressed regrets saying, “We don’t listen to each other despite the means of communication we have.” Cardinal Kambanda who gave the homily during the morning Holy Mass said “the most precious gift that God gave to humanity is the word and the word realizes its objective and has sense when it is listened to. We need to listen to this word of God to live to receive his divine life.
The Local Ordinary of Kigali Archdiocese lamented that “today there are a lot of means of communication but it is the period that communication is at its lowest stage because we don’t listen to each other despite the means of communication that we have.” (Read more here (https://apo-opa.info/3ZE8TBG))
After the recap of the experience and process of the previous day, the bulk of the morning of the second working day of the Continental Synodal Assembly was dedicated to the practice of spiritual conversation: the method presented at the beginning of the assembly aimed at fostering listening to the Holy Spirit and mutual listening among the participants.
Introducing the morning’s proceedings and providing a guide to reading the DCS was Fr Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator SJ, President of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar. He first invited the participants to recognize their common baptismal dignity. Baptism, the Jesuit recalled, “is our founding identity, which qualifies us to participate in the life and mission of the Church, in communion, sharing and dialogue with people of all denominations”. He then recalled that the heart of spiritual conversation “is prayer and silence” that allows all participants to express their opinions openly and honestly.
Referring then to the invitation to “widen the space of the tent”, Fr. Orobator recalled how the image of the tent taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah can be compared to the African Tukul, the house par excellence consisting of a roof, walls and a central pole. Whether it is a tent or a Tukul, “the Church-house has no doors that close, but a perimeter that continually widens”. It is “a tent, a family where everyone can find a place and a home.” Finally, the Jesuit repeatedly recalled how “this is a time to thank God who has brought us together, guided by the Spirit of God. This is a time to rejoice: let us not allow the weeds to hinder us; let us allow the spirit to lead us forward. (Read more here (https://apo-opa.info/3KQTo5d))
During the afternoon session 15 spiritual conversation groups presented summary reports of discussions in their respective groups. Various groups proposed unity, fight against poverty, fight against social equality, neocolonialism as some of the priority areas the synod Fathers need to focus on during the synodal process.
The Church as the family of God called to evangelize through formation. A well-formed family will ensure the society is good and grows according to African values.
The groups vouched for synodal Church as a family of God with defined roles and responsibilities that promote African values and ameliorate the structural governance of the Church family of God by empowering the laity through formation.
Synodality invites us to journey together and not to walk alone by the diversity of our cultures. Africa is called to examine all mechanisms put in place to ensure journeying together is a reality.
Synodality invites us to a profound conversion. This can be achieved through a respect of African values in which the family can play a major role. African voices need to be taken into consideration in the decision-making process of the Church.
The groups stressed the need for a family centered understanding of synodality and promotion of African values and a holistic catechism for all.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of General Secretariat for Synod of Bishops.