The Year of Reconciliation in Africa opened on Wednesday with a solemn Eucharistic Celebration in Accra, Ghana, convoked by the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). The theme chosen for this event is “A Reconciled Africa for Peaceful Coexistence.” The Year will close on July 29, 2016, during the 17th Plenary Assembly of the organization, in Angola.
SECAM was instituted by Blessed Paul VI in 1969 during his pastoral visit to Uganda. It is made up of 37 National Episcopal Conferences and eight Regional African Conferences.
The convocation of this Year of Reconciliation is in response to the invitation that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI made in 2011 to the African Episcopates in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Africae Munus”, to promote “a Year of Reconciliation of continental reach, to ask God for special forgiveness for all the evils and offenses that human beings have inflicted on one another in Africa, so that persons and groups that have been wounded are reconciled in the Church and in the whole of society,” reported the Vatican Information Service.
In the document, the Pope wrote that it would be “an Extraordinary Jubilee Year during which the Church in Africa and in the neighboring Islands would give thanks with the universal Church and pray to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially the gifts of reconciliation, justice and peace.”
The Exhortation, signed by Benedict XVI on November 19, 2011 in Cotonou, Benin, during his Apostolic Journey to that country, sealed the 2nd Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, held in 2009 in the Vatican, and whose theme was, precisely, “The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.”
Thus, Archbishop Charles Palmer Buckle of Accra sent a letter, on behalf of the President of SECAM, Angolan Bishop Gabriel Mbilingi CSSP, to all the African Episcopal Conferences inviting them to organize during this Year “programs and initiatives of reconciliation in collaboration with the respective Commissions of Justice and Peace in their countries.” He also exhorted the Continent’s Bishops to make a “special collection” in their dioceses on a Sunday of their choice, for the Second Day of SECAM, which was instituted two years ago during the 16th Assembly of that organization, to finance projects of evangelization, promotion of justice and peace and Catholic media.”