News : SECAM : All Lives Matter

Posted on: 2016-07-13
Source: Bishop Badejo

SECAM in Angola

SECAM, the Symposium of Ecclesiastical Conferences of Africa and the Madagascar, will, this weekend, gather representatives of all the Catholic Bishops of Africa for its assembly in Luanda, Angola from July 18-25. Beyond discussing administrative matters concerning its 8 regional conferences, the triennial assembly will deliberate on issues affecting the lives of African peoples like the quality of leadership, terrorism, challenging economy, debilitating poverty and unemployment, war, and terrorism, but also positive things like the growth of the church, the family and the youthful energy of Africa. All these will be feature at a workshop with the general theme: "New Pastoral Challenges Facing the African Family Today and Finding New Ways of Evangelizing the Families". Key papers for discussion will include: "The Case of Cape Verde" by His Eminence, Arlindo Cardinal  Gomes Furtado, Archbishop of Santiago de Cape Verde; "The African Perspective" by Bishop Emilio Sumbulelo of Uije, Angola; " The Influence of Modern Media and New ideologies on the Family in Africa Today" by Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo of Oyo, Nigeria and "Making SECAM  a Stronger and More Committed Family of God in our Continent" by His Eminence, Philippe Cardinal Ouedraogo of  Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The presentations will hopefully help expose relevant challenges from different perspectives differing parts of the Continent.

The family is the cradle of life

Should anyone seek to synthesize all the concerns of SECAM in one word however it would be with the word "Family". That would be most appropriate because SECAM must remain faithful to the identity which the church in Africa choose for itself since the first ever Synod for Bishops for Africa held in 1994 in Rome. The post-Synodal document "Ecclesia in Africa The Church in Africa: Family of God on Mission", amply presented and explained that identity. The family remains so important to the cultures of Africa and the Church as well. In spite of numerous anti-life projects, ideologies, movements and legislations all over the world, African peoples remain generally pro-life and pro-family in their worldview. The Continent does suffer from many life-threatening challenges like wars, disease, famine, destitution, and other criminal insecurities, but this does not change the veracity of the African pro-life profile. By choosing an identity related to the family, the Church in Africa desires to strengthen this important legacy of deep respect for the sanctity of human life. and the belief that life should originate and be nurtured from within the family.


All lives indeed matter


However, our entire world at the moment suffers from powerful threats to human life. Rumblings of hostilities between the strongest world powers, the United States of America and Russia, threaten to return humanity to the cold war era. The referendum which approved the exit of Britain from the European Union, beyond being a legal right of the people, raises moral concerns about nonchalance and the neglect of solidarity  to immigrants and other needy people in international politics.  Escalation of violence caused by terrorism,  war, organized crime and strong allegations of race-related killing even by law enforcement agents and the eventual backlash which recently rocked the United States of America, all demonstrate how unsafe even the "safest countries" in the world have suddenly become.  The recent killing of 5 policemen in Dallas showed a dangerous loss of confidence and respect for law enforcement even in the biggest  law-driven democracy in the world. The racist spin attached to the uprising has provoked protests, media messages and tags with the theme "Black lives matter".  However the  greater truth which the African culture has always represented is what the Church too has repeatedly proclaimed and sought to defend: all lives, Black, White or Asian do indeed matter".


Nigeria at a crossroads


That all lives matter really seems to be a lesson which Nigeria must relearn today. Far too many lives are daily brutally wasted today in the country. Terror, religion-related killings, alleged Fulani herdsmen rampage, kidnapping, armed robbery, mob killings and other murderous activities seem to occur weekly and do not seem to command sufficient attention from the authorities. The great danger posed by this trend is that the public is also gradually losing confidence in the government and the law. Many may make private arrangement for self-defense and then take the law into their own hands. That would surely be bad news for Nigeria which is already stretched thin trying to deal with insurgency, the struggle for self determination and militancy in several regions of its territory.

Worse still, all this is charged with strong allegations of religious persecution, as has been seen in the unfortunate mauling to death of the pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God Mojisola Elisha, while she was preaching publicly in an Abuja suburb last week. It was not the first of such deaths in Nigeria. catholic priests, ministers of other Churches and many civilians have been brutally murdered allegedly for religious reasons in the last few years. The recent killing  seems to indicate that this evil is not about to stop soon. Nigeria thus dances on the brink if the authorities don't sit up. No one wants a violent uprising or a total breakdown of law and order. We all must cry out loud enough for the authorities to hear and act to defend innocent lives and prosecute the murderers among us. Not even the assembly of SECAM in Angola can fail to debate such issues that threaten and demean human life. Few things, in any case, should matter more.