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African continental assembly on Synod is underway

Continental Synod in Africa is underway (Photo credit: Vatican News)

The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) is holding the continental assembly on Synodality in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from March 1 to 6.

Over two hundred delegates are taking part to reflect on the document for the Continental Stage of the Synod on Synodality.

The continental body’s First Vice President, Archbishop Lucio Muandula, led a prayer and reflection based on the Book of Acts 8:6-8, 25-40, about the encounter between the Ethiopian eunuch and Philip.

Archbishop Lucio said that understanding the Synodal process means opening our hearts to the Holy Spirit speaking to us and listening to one another in order to do better the mission of the Church.

"In Africa, we believe that we have to journey together as a family, to listen to one another. And that is why Pope Francis invited us to journey together in this Synod on Synodality, to enlarge our hearts,” the archbishop added.

The Consulter for the General Secretariat of the Synod, Father Giacomo Costa, explained that the method called Spiritual Conversation involves three main steps: “Taking the Floor, Making Room for the Other, and Building Together.

“The Spiritual Conversation Method does not guarantee the result, but it offers a way of journeying together,” he added.

Father Costa insisted that the method helped them to listen to one another’s contribution, and so open up to the Holy Spirit who offers them new ways of looking at the Gospel mission.

“The method does not guarantee anything; it is an attitude of prayer, to begin with prayer and to end in prayer,” the priest explained.

Father Costa underlined that it was not intended to go against the authority of the Church but putting together their experiences as a way of participating in the process of Synod on Synodality; it was not a win-lose situation.

He elaborated on the three steps of the Spiritual conversation method for the continental stage of Synod on Synodality.

“The first step is to be in contact with the reality that we are living” and, “each one tells his or her story and what is going on in his or her heart, yet it is not a debate but putting one’s story in the group," the priest said.

Father Giacomo described the second step that Jesus led them to interpret their experience in the context of Scriptures to go to the heart of their stories, to understand their stories in a different way until their hearts were burning.

“What struck me as I listened' so that we may move from personal opinion to recognizing what the Holy Spirit is calling us to do from the shared story," the priest added.

Father Costa stated the third step as the disciples went back and shared with the community their experiences with the risen Christ.

The priest invited all, “We too have to meet Jesus in order to gather the courage to enter into the night and go back to our community, transformed by the experience of meeting the risen Jesus.”

He urged the delegates that they had to make this their experience, and this was the purpose of this method so that Jesus makes them able to choose the way they wanted to take.

Father Costa encouraged, “We are called to move away from ‘I, my understanding’ to ‘Us, our understanding’; from confusion to harmony like the Pentecost; and this is possible by listening to the Holy Spirit. Then, from that building together, we open the way for us to go back to our Conferences and communities and share our experiences.”


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