Kampala. The event marking the golden jubilee celebrations of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) opened yesterday with Mass at the Rubaga Cathedral in Kampala.
The primates and President Museveni condemned laziness and tasked Christians to work hard and support the Church.
“Jesus does not favour laziness and selfishness. Choose the better part, renew your commitment with Christ, listen to Him and proclaim that Jesus is the Saviour because he called us to serve,” Ghanaian Archbishop Charles Gabriel Palmer- Buckle, who is the main celebrant, said.
Archbishop Buckle condemned evil, including corruption, selfishness and greed, and asked the faithful to always walk in the light of Jesus Christ.
“May we never shy away from suffering for the sake of the gospel of Christ. We should stand up and proclaim Jesus by our service of selflessness,” he said.
He asked believers to be kind and generous and offer hospitality to all, especially strangers, in their day-to-day life because a reward awaits them.
Pope Saint Paul VI launched the Symposium of African Bishops to work in solidarity and collegiality at Pan-African level to promote the Catholic Church’s participation in education, spiritual, medical, social and economic development of the continent.
SECAM leaders, through Uganda’s President, had invited Pope Francis to preside over the golden jubilee observance, to continue a tradition set by Pope Paul VI during the launch, but the Pontiff instead sent senior Vatican officials to represent the Holy See at the week-long conference.
The event celebrates the achievements of SECAM, which include participation in the development processes, thanksgiving, taking stock and praying for spiritual growth on the African continent.
President Museveni appealed to the primates to reinforce spirituality with welfare of the people by way of campaigning for wealth creation to improve household incomes.
“People are failing to establish dominion over nature yet we are created in God’s image to tame nature to fight diseases and floods, among other problems. In the parable of talents, some people lost talents, some sat on them and only some multiplied,” he said.
President Museveni described the celebration as a huge blessing for Uganda, given the number of primates attending, saying Africa is spiritually doing much better than other continents.
The Catholic Church in the African continent has grown from 55 million people to 175 million people, shepherded by some 600 bishops.
SECAM was born out of the will of young African bishops during the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) to build a continental pastoral structure to bring forth the African vision to the whole Church.
Seeing the importance of such an association for Africa, the congregation for the evangelisation of the people invited the presidents of the Regional Episcopal Conferences for consultation in 1968.