By Fr. Dumisani Vilakati (Director of the IMBISA Secretariat)
At least ten Bishops from the IMBISA Region are participating in the 19th Plenary Assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) that is taking place in Accra, Ghana from 25 July-1 August 2002 under the theme: Ownership of SECAM: Security and Migration in Africa and its Islands.
The Assembly began with a solemn mass presided by the Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. In the homily, he emphasised the importance of placing Jesus at the centre of all the Church’s activity. The Cardinal was preaching on the mission passage in Matthew 28:16-20 where the apostles had to prostrate before Jesus and only then were they sent out for mission. There can be no mission without having adored Jesus and whatever the missionary does it is with the authority of Jesus. A missionary who acts outside the authority of Jesus becomes a tyrant. Indeed, the Cardinal continued, every preacher and every missionary should remain a student of Jesus. Jesus told his disciples that he will be with them right up to the end of the age so that he may continue teaching them and they in turn never cease learning from him. In the opening session, the Cardinal decried the militarisation of security in some parts of the world. Security needs to be seen as the provision of safe spaces and the safeguarding and promotion of human rights so that all may have decent housing, food, education, employment and other goods that are important for the flourishing of human life.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was full of praise for the positive contribution that the Catholic Church continues to make in the development of Ghana, the African Continent as well as the world in general. He impressed upon the Bishops the need to continue involving themselves and the Church in the provision of peace and security in the continent and especially in calling out wayward politicians in their respective countries so that they may account for the goods of the country. The President remarked that a sign of this insecurity in the continent is the very fact that the 19th SECAM Plenary Assembly was meant to be held in Burkina Faso but due to the instability in that country, it had to be moved to a more stable country, Ghana.
Representing IMBISA in the Plenary are the following Bishops:
- Wilfrid Cardinal Napier- South Africa
- Lucio Muandula- Mozambique
- José Manuel Imbamba- Angola
- Liborius Nashenda- Namibia
- Joseph Sephamola- Lesotho
- Inacio Saure- Mozambique
- Estanislau Chindecasse- Angola
- Sithembele Sipuka- South Africa
- Paul Horan- Zimbabwe
- Joseph Kizito- South Africa