Missionaries of Africa
Seán O'Leary M.Afr.
Echos from African Synod,
Date: Thu, 15 Oct 2009 15:04:42 +0200
Subject: Synod Report No.3
Indeed we have stepped up a gear and got more into the 'nitty gritty' of
the Synod. In all 218 individual interventions were made, each one
accorded a maximum of 5 minutes; which meant close on 80 did not speak.
Some now are bemoaning the fact they did not get a chance but the
reality is that they left it too late to intervene and when the time is
up at this Synod time is certainly up.
Cardinal Turkson (Ghana) and his team had the dubious task of putting
what was said by the 218 into some kind of coherent order and this he
did in book form. Again the speed and quality of the Vatican Secretariat
at work was incredible to see. The document took an hour and fifteen
minutes to read in Assembly and in general was received well even though
many could not find their particular intervention highlighted.
The 'document' highlights that this is the universal Church which is
gathered in Synod about her presence in Africa. It is not an African
Synod. This I would agree with as many Bishops have come from other
parts of the world and are full delegates. It went on to say that and I
quote 'wounded human hearts, are the ultimate hiding place for causes of
everything destabilizing the African continent' The Synod therefore is
more about 'restorative' justice rather than 'retributive' justice and
again this is much more African. The document speaks of 'lights' and
'shadows' when referring to the 'good' and 'bad' things happening in
Let me cite one more quote: 'SECAM is expected to seek observer-status
on the African Union and regional conferences are to do likewise with
regional and national parliaments, as in South Africa'. CPLO Cape Town
take a bow.
Wednesday was given over to small group work. Each group was asked to
comment on 'the working document' which, as I have said, was a syntheses
of what was said in all 218 interventions. The idea was to underline the
'burning issues' we felt passionate about and raise the issues we felt
were not sufficiently covered or indeed were absent in the document.
Consultation remains the name of the game!
There are 23 in my group and we raised six issues:
1. Immigration: Here the reemergence of racism and xenophobia worldwide
against Africans, the restrictions on travel, the plight of economic
refugees etc came very strong.
2. Universal Solidarity: The solution to many of Africa's woes are found
outside of Africa thus the need to engage more the Universal Church in
the quest for a better future for all Africans.
3. Women: to create structures in the Church were women can become part
of the decision making, planning and implementation of decisions.
4. Formation for all in reconciliation, justice and peace from the
cradle to the grave.
5. Self Reliance: Africa produces what it does not eat and eats what it
does not produce and until the dynamics of the economic world order are
addressed in favor of Africa, then attempts at self-reliance will remain
6. An African Peace Council of Elders: This was my initial 4 minute
intervention, it is strange it should reemerge in the small group; ha
The 8 groups reported back to the Assembly their salient points. With
the exception of one or twp groups, the theme of the Synod:
Reconciliation, Justice and Peace has disappeared in favour of The
Church Family of God. In the report backs there was a major swing away
from 'looking out' to 'looking in'; a kind of return to 'the comfort
zone'. I found this to be a bit sad. But the synod is far from over yet!
For the next day and a half we will work in groups again this time to
make short written propositions, which we would like to see appear in
the final document. My first, and if it has to be my only proposition,
will be to plead that 'the theme of the Synod: Reconciliation, Justice
and Peace be neither hijacked or lost. Read on in a few days.
With best wishes,