The President of SECAM Archbishop
Gabriel Mbilinge CSSP, in the context of the golden jubilee of SECAM, shared on
his experience of heading the continental body of bishops. This was especially
true about the different languages used or should be used at SECAM namely
English, French and Portuguese.
He is fond of the image of a
welcoming Church as presented by Pope Francis. Being more experienced with the
Church in Southern Africa, especially having been the President of the
sub-continental body of bishops, he is aware that the Church in Southern Africa
has a rich experience with its two official languages, namely English and
Indeed, the language we use when
meeting is one way in which the Church can be seen to be welcoming. He retorts
though as he says, “I cannot say the same with the other regions”. The
Archbishop seems to be painfully aware that at times the Church is not very
welcoming as he says, “Some of us act badly and insist on putting the
other languages spoken by minorities on the periphery of the world”. We
need to remember that the work of evangelization, which is basically a process
of communication and culture, is undermined when the Church is not welcoming.
In a certain sense IMBISA provides a good example in this area of a welcoming church. In this we were encouraged by Pope St. Paul VI who saw communication as playing a vital role in evangelization.
It is worth considering too that
even though IMBISA was founded formally in 1975, nevertheless the Department of
Social Communications was already operational by 1973. This was under the name
of Regional Secretariat of Southern Africa for Communication and Social
Security (SARCOM). This fact reveals what characterizes the spirit now lived in
IMBISA to help member countries (the six Episcopal Conferences and nine
countries) with different Catholic traditions. This spirit enables IMBISA to be
an animating stage of communion and pastoral solidarity.