“That they may know Christ and have life in abundance” (Jn 17:3; 10:10).
1. The celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and its 18th Plenary Assembly took place from 19 to 29 July 2019, in Kampala (Uganda), on the theme “Church Family of God in Africa, celebrate your jubilee, proclaim Jesus Christ your Saviour”. At the end of this Plenary Assembly, which was devoted to pastoral reflections on the theme “That they may know Christ and have life in abundance” (Jn 17:3; 10:10). We, the Pastors address this Message to the Church Family of God in Africa and Madagascar
I. The Jubilee, a Time of Thanksgiving
2. We give thanks to God the giver of life for all his goodness bestowed on Africa, “the new homeland of Christ” (Pope Paul VI); strengthened by his word and the sacraments, we surrender ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
3. We are grateful to God for the pilgrimage of Pope Paul VI to Kampala in memory of the Martyrs of Uganda in 1969, during which he addressed a strong message to Africa: “You Africans are now missionaries to yourselves, the church of Christ is well and truly planted in this blessed soil”. “You may and you must have African Christianity.”
4. We give thanks to God for the missionaries past and present who have helped Africa to know Christ “the Way the Truth and Life” (Jn. 14:6).
5. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Holy Father Pope Francis. In his Message he encourages SECAM to continue to be of valuable service to the local churches throughout the entire continent of Africa. We are also thankful to the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples.
6. We express our sincere thanks to the Catholic Church in Uganda, which through her pastors, men and women religious, the lay faithful, and the youth, has shown us very generous hospitality.
7. We are sincerely grateful to the people of Uganda, the President of the Republic with his Government and the Parliament for their warm welcome, hospitality and support during our stay here in this beautiful country.
8. We equally grateful to the media, security agents and all the bodies that have contributed to the success of this Jubilee.
II. The Jubilee, a time of communion
9. Since the launch of the Golden Jubilee, we have experienced with joy a true communion of Christian communities, priests and religious congregations of the continent with SECAM.
10. This communion is rooted in our common faith in Christ our Saviour through the Holy Spirit. The prayer of the Jubilee and the reflections proposed for each month have given rise to a spiritual dynamism, reinforced by the memory of our holy martyrs of Uganda.
11. The presence in Kampala of Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, men and women religious and lay faithful from various countries in Africa, Madagascar and Islands, Europe, America and Asia, demonstrates the universality of the Church which is rooted in the death and resurrection of Christ.
12. This Jubilee was also a time of ecumenical communion, as witnessed by the presence among us of the representatives of our sister Churches. In giving up their lives to and for Christ, the martyrs of Uganda of all Christian denominations had already invited us to live according to the will of Christ: “May all be one, so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).
13. The Golden Jubilee of SECAM is a commitment to the service of reconciliation, justice and peace which promotes communion and pastoral solidarity which enables us to stand together against: ideological colonization, land grabbing, political and democratic destabilization, human trafficking, terrorism and arms trafficking, etc.
III. Jubilee, a Time of Hope
14. Confronted with the anguish of our people, SECAM from its beginning aimed at being a sign of hope, especially for families and our countries.
15. The family founded on the union of man and woman remains the first place of evangelization; that is why SECAM has kept insisting on its importance, vocation and nature as ordained by God (cf. Gen. 2:24).
16. Through its socio-pastoral instruments such as Caritas, Justice and Peace Commissions and the various bodies and actors engaged in the promotion of integral human development, SECAM continues to commit itself to the pastoral care of migrants and refugees, and to the protection of integral ecology (cf. Laudato Si). It also highlights the socio-political dimensions of evangelization and calls on politicians and governments to work for the wellbeing of their people.
17. The martyrs of Uganda remind us of the importance of remaining faithful to our faith in Christ and to our baptismal commitment. They are also models for all the baptized, especially the catechists.
18. Children and the youth are crucial in the work of evangelization. They need to be given special attention and quality Christian education to make them effective witnesses to Christ.
19. Women have an irreplaceable role and place in the Church and society. Their participation in education and evangelization is indispensable.
20. To keep alive the momentum of the Jubilee, SECAM will issue an important document, the “Kampala Document” which will help the people of God to deepen their knowledge of Christ our Savior and make him known as the Way, the Truth and the Life.
21. We entrust Africa and the mission of the Church to Mary, Queen of Africa; may St. Joseph, the Martyrs of Uganda, and all the Saints of Africa and Madagascar obtain for us a renewed zeal to follow Jesus Christ. May the Jubilee we have just celebrated be for us the springboard for a new life in Jesus Christ, and for service of the gospel in Africa and the world. Amen!
Given in Kampala by SECAM on the 28th July 2019
His Eminence Philippe Nakellentuba Cardinal Ouédraogo,
Archbishop of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso