The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa, and Madagascar (SECAM), the association of Catholic Bishops of Africa, Madagascar, and the Islands, has elected His Eminence Richard Kuuia Baawobr of Ghana as its new President making him the highest-ranking member of the Roman Catholic Church in Africa.
The election took place in Accra, Ghana, during the 19th Plenary Assembly of SECAM, whereby 130 participants, including cardinals and bishops representing over 600 catholic bishops of Africa came from all corners of the continent.
The new President succeeds His Eminence Philippe Cardinal Ouédraogo from Burkina Faso.
Another Cardinal, His Eminence Fridolin Besungu Ambongo of the Archdiocese of Kinshasha, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was elected First Vice-President, while Most Rev. Lucio Andrice Muandula of the Diocese of Xai Xai, in Mozambique, was elected Second Vice President.
The new President of SECAM, His Eminence Richard Kuuia Baawobr, was created a Cardinal on May 29, 2022 by Pope Francis and will be officially installed as Cardinal on August 27, 2022. This is the first time since the establishment of SECAM, 53 years ago that a Ghanaian has been elected the President of SECAM.
The SECAM, established in 1969 in Kampala, Uganda during the visit of St. Pope Paul VI, was born out of the desire of African Catholic Bishops present at the Second Vatican Council to speak with one voice on matters pertaining to the Church in Africa.
The Symposium, headquartered in Accra, consists of eight regional associations: Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa (ACEAC), Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central African Region (ACERAC), Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy of Egypt (AHCE), Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa (AMECEA), Episcopal Conferences of the Indian Ocean (CEDOI), Regional Episcopal Conference of North Africa (CERNA), Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA), Reunion of Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA/CERAO).
About the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM):
The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) was born from the will of the African bishops at the time of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), they wanted to establish a forum to speak with a single voice on issues relating to the Church in Africa and Madagascar. SECAM is thus the episcopal, continental structure of the Church Family of God in Africa which consists of 505 dioceses grouped in 38 national or inter-territorial episcopal conferences and counts nearly 250 million Catholic faithful.
SECAM was launched on July 31, 1969, during the visit of His Holiness Pope Paul VI to Kampala (Uganda). The headquarters/secretariat of SECAM is in Accra, (Ghana) and a specific office is established in Nairobi (Kenya) for the translation of the bible into African languages and its distribution in Africa and Madagascar. Furthermore, SECAM is an observer to the African Union and is represented by the Cardinal Archbishop of Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). On the 50th anniversary of SECAM (July 1969 – July 2019) a pastoral exhortation called “The Kampala Document” and entitled: “Church Family of God in Africa, Celebrate Your Jubilee. Welcome Christ Your Saviour” was promulgated by the pastors of Africa to the People of God and men and women of goodwill.
After the celebration of this golden jubilee of SECAM, a new chapter opens for the Church Family of God in Africa. A “new Africa”, more centered on God whose members become Salt of the earth and Light of the world (Mt 5, 13-14; KD N° 22, 133) to accompany the hopes and anxieties of the people and to direct them towards Jesus Christ the True Liberator of humanity
In 1973 the Bishops of the SECAM established an episcopal communications commission composed of Bishops who oversee communications in the 8 Regions as the delegates from the regions requested. This was supported by the Pontifical Commission for Communications and thus was born the Pan African Episcopal Commission for Communication known by its French acronym, CEPACS: Commite Episcopale Pan-Africaine de la Communication Sociale. The commission represents the SECAM in matters concerning Communications and is itself represented before the SECAM by its Bishop President, who currently is Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo, Nigeria.