Symposium des Conférences Episcopales d'Afrique et de Madagascar
Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar

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 change".

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 Munus.

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.

Issued by:
Benedict B. Assorow
Director of Communications, SECAM

Accra, Ghana, March 4, 2013.
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Attached: Group Photo of the participants.
For the full texts please refer to SECAM's website: www.secam-sceam.org