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The planned joint seminar bringing together representatives of Catholic Bishops in Africa and Europe is to place particular focus on young people in the two continents, the Secretary-General (SG) of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) has said.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa on January 20 and made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, Fr. Rafael Simbine Junior provides details of the January 23-26 meeting scheduled to take place in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, at the Mariapolis Retreat Centre, Juja.

“A special focus will be placed on listening to the voices of young people in both continents, recognizing their crucial role in shaping the future of the Church,” Fr. Simbine says about the seventh joint seminar of the representatives of SECAM and the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE).

Organized under the theme, “Synodality: Africa and Europe Walking Together”, the seminar is to involve ten representatives from each of the continental Catholic Bishops’ Conferences “alongside eight facilitators and assistants” as part of their “continued commitment to fostering deeper communion and solidarity between the Churches of Africa and Europe”, the SG of SECAM says in his two-page statement dated January 18.

“It begins on Tuesday, January 23, with the arrival of delegates, followed by a packed agenda including masses, prayer sessions, and in-depth discussions,” he further says.

Among the “key highlights” of the planned SECAM-CCEE seminar will be presentations and discussions on “understanding the emerging Synodal Church” in the context of the March 2022 Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia and its service to the Church in the world, Praedicate Evangelium, the Mozambican-born member of the Clergy of Xai-Xai Diocese says.

Participants in the seminar will also seek “insights into the continental impressions of the first session of the Synod on Synodality” that was held in Rome from 4-29 October 2023, concluding with a Synthesis Report.

“This event signifies a continued commitment to the spirit of synodality and mutual enrichment between the Churches of Africa and Europe. The seminar stands as a testament to the power of dialogue and collaboration across continents, seeking to understand and address the unique challenges and opportunities presented in both contexts,” the SG of SECAM says.

He continues, “As the world faces unprecedented changes and challenges, the Church’s role in promoting justice, peace, and solidarity becomes ever more crucial. This seminar embodies that role, providing a platform for shared learning and cooperative action between these two vital limbs of the Universal Church.”

“Since the inception of these seminars in 2004, this collaboration has become a vital platform for dialogue and mutual understanding,” Fr. Simbine further says in his statement shared with ACI Africa.

Initially scheduled to take place in 2021, the planned seventh SECAM-CCEE Seminar had to be postponed amid travel restrictions due to the COVID-I9 pandemic, the official of SECAM says, adding that the Nairobi Seminar “promises to build upon the rich discussions of the past while looking ahead to new horizons in the Church’s mission within an increasingly globalized context.”

In a joint statement following their two-day virtual seminar in June 2021, representatives from SECAM and CCEE encouraged the fostering of inter-religious dialogue in their respective continents in line with the message of Pope Francis in his October 2020 Encyclical Letter, Fratelli Tutti (FT).

They described FT as “an invitation to human beings all over the world for a renewed commitment to universal brotherhood, friendship, solidarity and peaceful coexistence.”

The Nairobi January 23-26 meeting is to conclude with “a final statement on January 25, followed by a closing Mass and dinner at Christ the King (Karinga) Parish,” a Parish in Nairobi’s Gatundu Deanery.