By: Joy Odor/Abuja
His Holiness, Pope Francis has confirmed that Catholic Church in Africa is the fastest growing in the world, the most vibrant in her liturgical celebrations and her witnessing to the faith in Christ Jesus.
He also observed that with the population of about 40 million Catholics oSECAM Golden Jubilee inn the continent 50 years ago, there is every reason for Catholics to celebrate a population of over 178 million of the universal Church.
Pope Francis who was represented by the Archbishop of Cape Coast, His Grace, Most Rev. Charles Palmer Buckle stated this in his opening sermon and reflection Holy Mass at the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) Jubilee in Kampala, Uganda.
His Holiness was of the opinion that the Church in Africa must celebrate because in all countries, it contribute greatly to the integral human development of the peoples.
This, he pointed out, include the running of hundreds of hospitals, clinics, health-care centers and provide the formation of competent and qualified health care professionals, educational facilities like schools and training colleges, universities and professional formation programmes, involved in forming the consciences of political and professional elite.
With the Theme: “Church-Family of God: Celebrate your Jubilee! Proclaim Jesus Christ Your Saviour!” yhe Pope said the highlight of the week long event is praying and reflecting on the journey of faith in Christ Jesus and his mission of evangelization in the past fifty years of the life of the Church in Africa and her adjacent islands, listen to the voice of God in the Holy Scriptures, meditate on them, review performance in the mission entrusted to the Church by her Saviour, and in the light of the Holy Spirit take up the mission of evangelization with greater zeal and focus.
“It is in doing so that we witness to the glory of God to the world, for “…Christ in you (is) your hope of glory: this is the Christ we proclaim… to make (them) all perfect in Christ!”
My dear People of God, may we never shy away from suffering for the sake of Christ Jesus.
“If we have to stand up for him and proclaim him by our service of selflessness and self-sacrifice in the face of all the evil and corruption and selfishness of the world around us today. Let us never forget that it is the Christ in us that we witness to that will bring the glory of God to the world and make all things perfect.
“Putting this in context of our mission of evangelization, to which we are going to renew our commitment as apostles sent to bring Christ and his Good News to Africa and to the world, our Lord Jesus Christ will like us to sit at his feet, listen very well to his teaching, imbibe the message and coming to know Him in person, then only does he want us to bring Christ the hope of Glory in us to the world waiting out there.
“We are being called to allow Christ to evangelize us and then to send us out as evangelizers.
This, I believe, is what we are here to seek also during this Jubilee celebration; the way and new method of recommitting to the evangelization mission of the Church.
“May the Holy Martyrs of Uganda, Patron Saints of the Church in Africa, intercede for us to be able to walk in their footsteps and witness to Christ Jesus the hope of glory in us individually and collectively and as the Body of Christ.
“I think St. Paul is calling on you and me, indeed all those baptized into Christ Jesus, and even more so those of us called to the Priesthood and Consecrated Life and the leadership of our local Churches, to readily accept suffering in our mission of evangelization on behalf of the Church which is the Body of Christ” He laments.
It would be recalled that the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) is an Assembly of all African Bishops, who during the Vatican Council II (1962-1965) resolved to build a continental structure in order to unite the Church in Africa and promote collaboration in pastoral ministry.
The Association was officially launched on July 29, 1969 at Lubaga Cathedral during the visit of Saint Pope Paul VI. For this reason, the Uganda Episcopal Conference has been tasked to host and lead the Golden Jubilee Celebrations, and it’s a great honour to the country.
About 400 delegates including Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and others from the African continent and other parts of the world are expected to attend the celebrations.
The SECAM was attended by Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Religious, Consecrated Men and Women, Lay women and men from Catholic and Apostolic Church in Africa, delegates and representatives from the Universal Church, from the Vatican and other parts of Europe, the USa to celebrate its 18th Plenary Assembly where the Symposium of African Bishops was born, outdoored and officially inaugurated by the Supreme Pontiff, His Holiness Pope Paul VI on July 31, 1969.