By Bishop Sithembele SIPUKA
As we conclude today the celebration of SECAM golden Jubilee, allow me, to share some insights suggested by today’s readings. One striking thing about today’s first reading is that between Abraham and God roles seem to have been. Usually it is human beings who themselves are weak and sinners who are quick to judge and rush to condemn another weak and sinful people, and God who has not sin is the one who shows mercy and gives a second chance. We remember this from the scene of a woman caught in adultery where men who like her are sinful are after her blood, and Jesus who has no sin showing mercy.
That it is how it usually is, but in today’s readings it God who is raging with anger against the people of Gomorrah for their sinful ways and is out to destroy them, and Abraham the human keeps pleading and bargaining with God, and at the end the people of Sodom and Gomorrah are spared, God does not destroy them, thanks to bargaining plea of Abraham. I do not know what to make out of this change of roles, God appearing to be full revenge while a mere human being in the form of Abraham appears to be the one mercifully resolving the situation.
What I would like to note is that the reason for the success of Abraham in pleading with God is that although Sodom and Gomorrah had sinful people, there were still a few good people, and on account of those few good people the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were saved. What does this mean for us as we celebrate 50 years of SECAM ? At personal level I think it means we must never tire of being good and doing good, even though we may feel that we are going against the stream. We must continue to do what is good in our moral life, even though we maybe laballed as old fashioned.
This is very true for young people who are constantly presssurised to be like every body. To the young people as we celebrate this Jubilee, in the light today’s first reading, keep doing what is good even if you are a minority because you will not only save yourself but you will also save others as well. This is also true for lay people in families, at work, in business and politics, where many people are taking the easy road of immediate gratification and self serving, Keep doing what is right, even if the majority are doing the opposite, because when you keep doing what is right, there is hope for the salvation of others as well. Be the light of the world and salt of the earth.
This situation of Sodom and Gomorrah as we celebrate 50 years of SECAM seem to be suggesting that we should neither be overly pessimistic or overly optimistic. Gomorrah and Sodom was bad, and for this reason God wanted to destroy it. But Abraham reminded God, that bad as Gomorrah and Sodom was, there was still something good in it. There is what is called Afro Pessimism where everything bad is associated with Africa. As a reaction to this Afro Pessimism there is what is called Afro Optimism, which tends to romanticize Africa as Paradise,
Today’s first readings applied to our context seems to suggest that we must neither be overly pessimistic or overly optimistic about Africa, but be Afro realistic. To see what is not going well, and to name for what it is, but also to see what is good, and to be encouraged by it. Building on the strenght of what is good, we can be encouraged to deal and overcome what is evil. At the opening Mass of this Jubilee the preacher eloquently noted good developments since 50 years which should propel us to move forward, but in the same breath, he noted what is not going well, this is being Afro realistic.
In Today’s second reading COLOSSIANS 2: 12–14 St.Paul reminds the Colossians that they were baptized into Christ. They were once uncircumcised, but now they live a new life in Christ. The jubilee is about making new beginning, starting afresh, beginning a new life. Let us abondon behaviors attitudes athat do not make us prosper as a continent and embrace those that will see us moving forward. Again beginning with our personal lives, because until this new beginning starts with the self, this conversion from the past, it will materialize at Church level, societal level and continental level when it begins with each and everyone of us at personal level.
We heard how the centenary celebration of the arrival of missionaries in Uganda led to the establishment of monumental changes and development like centenary bank, the centenary choir, the building of the mini basilica and many other development monuments. As we complete 50 year’s of SECAM, there must be new beginnings in our lives that demonstrate that we are truly pilgrims making a journey towards God, growing in holiness.
On account of the journey of 50 years, a felt change in our life, a life in which we grow more and more to be like Christ must be evident. We cannot be same as if the Jubilee never happened. We must be raised up with him. Only when we have grown into being more like Christ can we hope to be instrumental in bringing about God’s kingdom as Christ did. Once again the kingdom of God begins at personal level, where I constantly align my will with the will of the Father as Jesus did, and then extend to society.
It is not by our own power as human beings that we have reached 50 years of SECAM, but by the power and grace of God. As it will heard when the message is read today and when the Kampala document eventually comes out, we have set ourselves as Church in Africa big goals as we begin another 50 years. We do so with the hope in a God who listens to our prayer, in a God who is able to do for us for us infinitely more than we can imagine or think of.
And so in spite of all the challenges that we see in front of us, we enter the next 50 years of SECAM bold because we are encouraged by the words of when Jesus when says to us today “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. The Church in Africa will become what we hope it will be because “If we though we are evil, know how to give good gifts to your others,, how much more will our Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Of course that God will give us what we ask of him does not mean that we must not play our role. To come back to the first reading, it was through the intercession of Abraham that God did not destroy Gomorrah and Sodom, had he not done so, Gomorrah and Sodom would have been destroyed. As we put the next 50 years of SECAM into God’s hand, let us also play our part because grace builds on human nature and God wants to collaborate with us in bringing about His kingdom. Like Abraham, let us allow ourselves to be God’s instruments in bringing about the kingdom of justice and peace, in Africa and in the world. God bless Africa, God bless SECAM
28 July 2019 KAMPALA
More than three hundred bishops gathered in Kampala, Uganda to celebrate the Church’s Golden Jubilee in Africa as Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). The wind was mobilized across the continent with different manifestations at episcopal conferences and regional bodies such as IMBISA.
More than 20 bishops from IMBISA region attended the celebrations. The 50th anniversary of SECAM is chaired by Angolan Archbishop of Lumbago, Archbishop Gabriel Mbilige, CSSP. The Archbishop in his opening speech encouraged debates for a deflecting awareness, as Africa is far from itself and consequently from Christianity. He said, “SECAM’s view is that Africa has no laity in line with Uganda’s first martyrs“.
The archbishop of Lumbago has headed SECAM for two terms. After being one of the vice presidents, he became president, being the first non-cardinal to head the continental organization. According to the prelate, thinking “the Church, family of God, as the subject of discussions requires more courage.” For, “It is crucial to note that contemporary Africa is confronted with negative tendencies directed against Christianity,” he said. At the time, feeling a silence in the assembly of Cardinals and Bishops among others, Monsignor Gabriel Mblinge took his eyes off the text and said offhand, “It’s not worth thinking about it… because it’s a fact,” he said.
SECAM will adopt at the end of the plenary assembly, the Declaration of Kampla, Uganda (1969-2019) to mark the 50th anniversary of the Church’s life in Africa. Since the announcement made at the beginning of the 2018 Jubilee, the expectation is high among the faithful to know the document.
IGREJA EM AFRICA 50 ANOS ORGULHOSA DOS MARTIRES DA UGANDA QUER MAIS
Mais de três centenas de bispos juntam-se, em Kampala, Uganda celebram o Jubileu de ouro da Igreja em Africa, SECAM ou SCAM. O vento foi mobilizado em todo continente com diferentes manifestações nas conferências episcopais e organismos regionais como a IMBISA, para a Africa Austral. Mais de 20 bispos foram constituídos delegados das 6 conferências e 9 países da IMBISA.
A assembleia dos 50 anos do SECAM é presidida pelo angolano, Arcebispo do Lubango, Dom Gabriel Mbiligui, CSSP. O arcebispo no seu discurso de abertura animou os debates para uma tomada de consciência deflectindo, como a Africa está longe de si mesma e consequentemente do cristianismo. Para ele, “a visão do SECAM é que a africa não tem leigos na linha dos primeiros mártires da Uganda”, disse. O arcebispo do Lubango está a frente do SECAM já dois mandatos. Depois de ter sido um dos vice-presidentes chegou a presidente, sendo o primeiro “não cardeal” a chefiar a organização continental.
Segundo o prelado, pensar “a Igreja família de Deus, como tema das discussões exigem mais coragem”. Pois, “é fundamental notar que a Africa contemporânea esta confrontada com tendências negativas dirigidas contra o cristianismo”, disse. Na ocasião, sentido um silêncio na assembleia de Cardeais, Arcebispos de Bispos entre outros, Dom Gabriel Mbinge tirou os olhos do texto e disse de improviso: “ Não vale apena pensar assim… Porque é um facto”, rematou.
SECAM vai adotar no fim dos trabalhos a Declaração de Kampla, Uganda, (1969-2019) para marcar os 50 anos de vida a Igreja em Africa. Desde o anúncio feito no início do Jubileu 2018, a expectativa é grande entre os fiéis em conhecer o documento.
A declaração vem expressa no comunicado dos Bispos Católicos de Momçambique, Conferencia Episcopal de Monçambique, CEM, assinada pelo seu presidente, Dom Lúcio Andrice Muandula (foto). O prelado que também é o presidente da IMBISA diz claramente dirigindo-se aos fieis das dioceses de moçambicanas que, “A presença do Papa no meio de nós quer significar que a Igreja católica em Moçambique não é uma igreja isolada, está e permanece em comunhão com toda a Igreja”, escreveu.
O bispo, orgulhoso da comunhão, escreve que a visita do Papa é motivo de esperança subescrevendo o tema escolhido “Esperança, Paz e Reconciliação”. Segundo ele, o Papa vem ajudar e animar os traumas causados pela devastação dos ciclones IDAI e Kenneth, bem como as comunidades de Cabo Delgado, “onde as populações tem estado a sofrer por motivo dos repetidos ataques armando, por grupos ainda não identificados”, apontou.
Papa Francisco em Momçabique tem uma agenda extensa que já foi anunciada. Além da celebração pública com os fiéis, a grande expectativa é o Encontro Inter-religioso com os jovens moçambicanos. O Papa argentino é aguardo para animar neste encontro a agenda pastoral do Jovem na região da Africa Austral e em particular na IMBISA, sem sequelas de proselitismo sobre outras “minorias” ou “maiorias”, não crentes.
This statement is expressed in the document of the Catholic Bishops of Mozambique, of Conference Episcopal Mozambique, CEM, signed by President Lucio Andrade Muandula, pictured.
The Prelate, who is also the current President of IMBISA, addressing the faithful of Mozambican dioceses said, “The presence of the Pope among us means that the Catholic Church in Mozambique is not an isolated church, it is and remains in communion with the whole Church, “.
For the bishop, who is proud of the communion, he describes the Pope’s visit as a reason for hope by subscribing to the theme chosen “Hope, Peace and Reconciliation.” According to him, the Pope comes to help and enliven the traumas caused by the devastation of cyclones IDAI and Kenneth, as well as the communities of Cabo Delgado, “where populations have been suffering because of repeated armed attacks by groups not yet identified,” pointed out.
Francis in Mozambique has an extensive agenda that has already been announced. In addition to the public celebration with the faithful, the great expectation is the interreligious encounter with the young Mozambicans. The Argentine Pope is waiting to encourage the young people’s pastoral agenda in the Southern Africa region and in particular in IMBISA, without proselytizing consequences on other non-believing “minorities” or “majorities”.
The opinion was shared by the Argentines around the world who were contacted by us on this 4th of July, reflecting the missionary interest of Pope Francis this July, about the Justice and the Judgement for the poor sake.
Our interlocutors pointed to the great courage of the Argentine in defences of the emigrants, as advocate of them, “Lampedusa is an example”, they said. Pope Francis asserted his relations with Europe, giving an example of welcoming blacks and defending them in the land of others. “This Pope is not ours,” said a resident in Africa continent.
Francisco still archbishop of Buenos Aires, several times expressed a desire to know Africa, especially Mozambique with whom he had an affective relationship, sending missionary priests to that country. It is the diocese of Chai-Chai, where the Argentine Church has missionaries within the mission “Ad Gents” that means “out of local border”.
The Bishop of Xai ‘Xai shared that he is not surprised by this visit to Mozambique, now Pope Francisco. “I guess he comes to comfort and talk about the ad gents mission,” he said. The African continent in the 50 years of the SECAM rejoices with this visit of Francisco. At the same time, he hopes for greater insinuations for the mission on the continent as a way of rejuvenating the Church.
May almighty God help us to receive on well as a messenger of God
Papa argentino ama a África
A convicção foi partilhada pelos argentinos espalhados pelo mundo contactados por nós, neste dia 4 de Julho 2019, refletindo a intenção missionária do Papa Francisco, neste mês de Julho.
Os nossos interlocutores apontaram para a grande coragem do argentino em defesa dos emigrantes, “Lâmpadusa é um exemplo”, disseram. O Papa Francisco asseverou as suas relações com a europa, dando um exemplo de acolher os pretos e defende-los na terra alheia. “Este Papa não é nosso”, disse uma eupeia residente em Africa.
Francisco ainda arcebispo de Buenos Aires, várias vezes manifestou desejo de conhecer a Africa, especialmente Moçambique com que teve uma relação afetiva, enviando padre missionários para aquele país. Trata-se da diocese de Chai-Chai, onde a Igreja Argentina tem missionários no quadro da missão ad gentes. O Bispo de Chai ’Chai, partilhou que não o surpreende esta visita a Moçambique, do agora Papa Francisco. “Adivinho que ele vem confortar e falar da missão ad gentes”, disse.
O continente africano no quadro dos 50 anos do SECAM rejubila com esta visita de Francisco. Ao mesmo tempo espera de maiores incentivos para a missão no continente, como forma de rejuvenescimento da Igreja.
An initiative of Bishop Angel Floro ‘pictured’, Bishop Emeritus of Gokwe in Zimbabwe, urges the Church community of Southern Africa to awaken to the “Missio ad Gentes”. He, together with his confreres, have put together a document for reflection which has been distributed to all the episcopal conferences in the IMBISA area. The document encourages Bishops and diocesan priests to seriously consider dedicating themselves to the “Mission ad Gentes”. This is in view of the forthcoming celebrations of the extraordinary missionary month.
Angel Floro is a Spanish national. He arrived in Africa as a “fidei donum” missionary in Zimbabwe in 1965. He has worked in the promotion of local vocations and was later called upon to serve the Church as Bishop of Gokwe. As bishop he worked for IMBISA as General Secretary for a number of years right up to 2017.
According to him, missionary awakening is the only way to rejuvenate the Church in the Southern region of the African continent where communities have the most diverse charisms of the received and lived gospel. Pope Benedict XVI, in Africae Munus says, “Africa stand up” and Bishop Floro says, “IMBISA rise”.
The region of IMBISA has some experience of diocesan priests having been sent on mission and has also received many priests in this regard. Some response in this regard has been seen in Angola and one diocese in South Africa which sends priests to other South African dioceses. Some priests have even been sent outside the continent, especially from Angola, despite the cultural and political challenges when such things happen. As such, Bishop Floro emphasises the need of a proper formation program for would be missionary diocesan priests.