Cardinal Napier calls on African Synod delegates to be “radical images of God”

In his presentation to African Theologians, the Metropolitan Archbishop emeritus of Durban Archdiocese called on Synod delegates to be “radical images of God.”

Addressing participants at the June 14 virtual conversation under the theme ‘The Synodal Missionary Face of the Church Family of God in Africa’, Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier OFM said he would love to see “the African members and delegates at the Synod take every opportunity to be radical images of God, who mirror God to others, by reflecting what it means to be full members of the Family of God, precisely because they are from Africa.”

Organised by the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTPAN) in collaboration with the Conference of Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar (COMSAM), the weekly online ‘African Palaver Series’ seeks to deepen the understanding of the Synthesis Report of the Synod on Synodality ahead of the second session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops scheduled to take place in Rome from 2-29 October 2024.

In his presentation, the Apostolic Administrator of Eshowe Diocese recalled the First Special Synod of bishops for Africa held in 1994 and the Second Special Synod of bishops for Africa held in 2009, under the theme “The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice, and Peace”.

“Those Synods,” he said “left an indelible mark on the minds and hearts of most participants, not least the two Popes involved – St John Paul II and Benedict XVI. They often made fond references to the Church in Africa coming of age in itself and holding out the torch of hope to the universal Church.”

Cardinal Napier commended “African Church Leaders” for their courage in “defining the Church that they were leading in a way that shows how it would reflect their dreams and aspirations, but also the realities from which that Church was emerging in the different countries and peoples in which it was increasingly a force for good, not only for Africa but in the world.”

 “The Bishops gave of the Church they were leading: We, Church in Africa, are the “Family of God in Africa,” he said.

He underscored “The Family of God in Africa.” He said, “For most Africans the Family is still the central feature and value of society, be it the clan or the tribe. The Family defines who we are, what we aspire to be, how we are going to achieve what we are born to be. In this case, our objective is to be the Family of God!”

“The two Synods on Africa have much to teach us, to challenge us and to confirm us in believing and doing. But given the present state of the world, I believe this is where we must focus all our attention – on how we truly become and live and move and have our being in today’s world, so as to be truly “The Family of God in Africa and Beyond,” he added.

Also in attendance at the June 14 webinar was Cardinal Stephen Brislin of Cape Town Archdiocese.

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