Ref. Nr. 04/03/2013/04
Press Release- On A Policy Forum of SECAM
The Church in Africa has been called upon to play a more pro-active
and assertive role in her efforts to tackle the political and socio-economic
challenges confronting Africa. This call was made by Most Rev. Charles Gabriel
Palmer-Buckle, Archbishop of Accra and Treasurer of the Symposium of Episcopal
Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) in a Keynote address at the Opening
Ceremony of a Policy Forum of SECAM. The Forum is taking place in Accra, Ghana,
from March 4-8, 2013.
The Church, he said, ought to address the multiple interlinked
global challenges of democracy, good governance, international violence, poverty
eradication, climate change, and other issues that will help African countries
achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Archbishop Palmer-Buckle noted that though the MDGs framework
has helped to raise global consciousness about poverty and other challenges
facing Africa, there is still a missing link between key policymakers and
the public on its full implementation in the promotion of development that
respects human dignity.
He lamented that more than fifty years after the independence
of most African countries and two years from the target date to achieve the
MDGs there is very little that has been achieved by most Africa countries
as far as development is concerned. He therefore hoped that the SECAM Policy
Forum would offer an opportunity for the Church to reflect on integral human
development and to work towards a new African renaissance.
According to Archbishop Palmer-Buckle a thorough, broad based
and inclusive review of the present agenda and its underlying approach, as
well as assessment of what has worked and what has not needs to be carried
out. "Such a review would need to be put in the context of the global
development challenges ahead. This development agenda will be based on the
fulfillment of universally recognized human rights principles and rules such
as, (i) individual freedoms for democratic and participatory governance; (ii)
equality among nations and individuals; (iii) solidarity to manage global
challenges based on equity and social justice; (iv) tolerance of belief, cultural
and language diversity; (v) respect for nature for sustainable development;
and (vi) shared responsibility to manage worldwide economic and social development,
within planetary boundaries and recognizing the urgency of addressing climate
He pointed out that the Church's contribution to a Sustainable
Development Goals policy discussion would be based on the principles and values
of the Social Doctrine of the Church e.g. the fundamental recognition of human
dignity, protection of life, option for the poor, human beings as stewards
of creation, the common good, etc. The Church's contribution would also be
framed in the light of the Social Doctrine of the Church, with an emphasis
on the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortations: Ecclesia in Africa and Africae
In welcoming the participants, the Secretary General of SECAM,
Rev. Fr. François-Xavier Damiba, hoped that the Forum would come up
with practical measures in strengthening the image of the Church in Africa
on the national, regional, and continental levels as stated in Africae Munus.
He thanked the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference for having accepted to host and facilitate the preparation of the Forum at a very short notice.
Dr. Martin Bröckelmann-Simon, Managing Director of MISEREOR, Germany,
in a goodwill message, said that MISEREOR hoped that the outcome of the Forum
will be a consensus on the contribution of the Church in Africa to the global
Post-2015 MDGs agenda around the three dimensions of development, social equality
and environmental sustainability.
Dr. Bröckelmann-Simon appealed to the Church in Africa to make her voice
more heard in the North, at the G8, the G20 Summits and at the different conferences
of the UN. "In the field of reconciliation, justice and peace there are
enormous challenges that cannot be tackled only on the local level, but need
to be confronted by all the local Churches and Bishops' Conferences acting
together. Discussions of this kind, the mutual search of the Churches in Asia,
Oceania, Africa, and Latin America together with us in Europe for common ways
in the fight for global justice. This kind of South-South, North-South, dialogue
of the Church can open many new opportunities." He stressed.
Goodwill messages were also presented by:
Mr. Bernds Nills, Secretary General of CIDSE, Belgium
Mr. Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy and Communications Division of CAFOD, UK.
Mr. Marco Gordillo, Director of Campaign of Manos Unidas, Spain
They all associated themselves with the sentiments expressed by MISEREOR and said that they were delighted to be part of this Forum. They promised to collaborate with SECAM in its development programmes.
The Opening Ceremony was chaired by Mrs. Rosaline NGANKU NJENJI EPSE MENGA, President of Africa Coordination of World Union of Catholic Women Organisations (WUCWO).
The 57 Participants at the Forum came from about 30 African Countries with representatives from Partner Agencies from Europe, and the Catholic Relief Service of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
A Policy Statement on SECAM's Contribution to the Post 2015 MDGs Process is expected to be adopted at the end of the Forum.
Benedict B. Assorow
Director of Communications, SECAM
Accra, Ghana, March 4, 2013.
Attached: Group Photo of the participants.
For the full texts please refer to SECAM's website: www.secam-sceam.org