ALL AFRICA REPORT:
Here is the final statement of the seminar by the Biblical Centre for Africa and Madagascar (BICAM) under the auspices of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) that took place from November 30 to December 5, 2010 in Yaounde, Cameroon.
A Continental Seminar was organised by the Biblical Centre for Africa and Madagascar (BICAM) under the auspices of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) that took place from 30th November to 5th December 2010 at Immaculate Conception Major Seminary Nkolbisson in Yaounde, Cameroon on the theme: Verbum Domini and Biblical Apostolate in Africa - Evaluation and the Way Forward - "Go to the whole world and make disciples" (Mt 28:19).
The Seminar is the first to be held by a continent after the publication of Verbum Domini, the Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of Synod on the Word of God. It had participants from the Regional Episcopal Conferences of Africa such as: The Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa (ACEAC) represented by participants from Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi ; the Association of the Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa Region (ACERAC) represented by participants from Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Congo Brazzaville and Gabon ; Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) represented by participants from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania ; and Regional Episcopal Conferences of West Africa (RECOWA) represented by participants from Benin, Burkina, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. Also represented were Bishops responsible for the Biblical Apostolate at National and Regional levels, members of the Pan-African Association of Catholic Exegetes (PACE), Priests, Religious men and women, the laity and the Secretary General of the Bible Society of Cameroon, Mr. Luc GNOWA.
During the Seminar there were many interventions and reactions from the participants. The following presentations were given:
- Keynote address by the Director of BICAM, Fr. Moïse Adekambi ;
- The Word of God in Deuteronomistic literature: pastoral implications for Africa by Fr. Etienne Bassoumboul, Lecturer, Catholic University of Douala;
- Listening to Verbum Domini: Keys to enter into dialogue with the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation -in two sessions- by Fr Paul BERE, SJ, lecturer at the Jesuits' Theological Institutes in Abidjan and Nairobi;
- Verbum Domini, the Bible and the African Church by Sr. Mary-Sylvia Nwachukwu, DDL, Lecturer at the Spiritan International School of Theology Enugu, Nigeria ;
- The Pastoral Perspectives of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation in the Regions of SECAM by Fr. Joseph Kato of AMECEA, Fr. Philippe Grebalet of ACERAC and Mr. Femi Emmanuel Adeojo of RECOWA ;
- Biblical Apostolate in Catechetical Curriculum : The case of Benin by Fr. Victor Sogni, the Rector of the Bascilica, Ouidah, Benin ;
- Experience of Distance Bible Courses in Ethiopia by Miss GABREYES Yewbdar, Resource Person of the Ethiopian Biblical Apostolate Desk;
- BICAM Programmes for Biblical Apostolate in Africa by the Director of BICAM, Fr. Moise Adekambi.
All the presentations were aimed at answering the major concerns regarding the theme of the Seminar -the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation - Verbum Domini and to reflect on the reception of the document in African communities and how to envisage the Biblical Apostolate in the light of this document.
During the Seminar in Yaoundé we made the following observations:
2. Biblical Apostolate has not fully taken root in some countries of the African continent.
3. The work of the animation of Biblical Apostolate by BICAM is a real illustration of a great number of exhortations of Verbum Domini.
4. The work of BICAM has to be encouraged, stimulated and passed on to the grassroots.
We therefore make the following resolutions:
1. To widely disseminate the magisterial documents mainly Dei Verbum, Ecclesia in Africa and Verbum Domini. These magisterial documents help us to think about better coordination of the pastoral activities in our dioceses and regions.
2. To widely promote the teaching of the methods of Lectio Divina in Africa through Seminars, workshops, etc.
3. To redefine the aim, structures and activities of the Biblical Apostolate in line with the Apostolic Exhortation - Verbum Domini.
4. To re-emphasise the important role of women in the dissemination of faith and promotion of the Biblical Apostolate in Africa.
5. To find adequate human, financial and material resources in carrying out Biblical Apostolate programmes on the diocesan, national, regional and continental levels.
6. To address the issue of the New World Ethic which tend to contradict Biblical and magisterial teaching, as well as African Culture values.
7. To promote Bible Correspondence Courses, mainly for the youth, through the modern means of communications.
8. To invite all people of God, especially Bishops, Priests, Religious, Catechists to play their role in promoting the Bible Apostolate.
In relation to the future of Biblical Apostolate in Africa, we recommend:
1. As already indicated above, the urgency of forming those involved in Biblical Apostolate at all levels. This formation will bring about a better understanding and appreciation of the Biblical Apostolate by those involved in the pastoral life of the particular churches in Africa.
2. The use of modern means of Social Communications with particular reference to television, radio, internet and the traditional means of communication in the promotion of Biblical Apostolate on the continent.
3. Networking and sharing experiences among agents of Biblical Apostolate at the diocesan, national, regional and continental levels.
4. Establishment of a Diploma School of Translations for African Translators because of the need to translate Sacred Texts or Church documents.
5. Increased collaboration among the bodies involved in Biblical projects. The National Bible Societies and the National Episcopal Conferences should facilitate any kind of collaboration in translating, publishing and distributing the Bible at affordable cost in African languages.
In all these we recognize the blessing of God in the fruitful work realized during the Seminar. We thank the Archbishop of Yaoundé, His Grace Archbishop Victor Tonye Bakot and the Archbishop of Douala, His Grace Samuel Kleda and the other Bishops who were with us during the period: Bishop Telesphor Mkude, Bishop Gaspard Mudiso and Bishop Mathieu Madega.
We also wish to express our gratitude and appreciation to our Partner Agencies, mainly Church in Need and Missio Aachen, the Local Organizing Committee of Cameroon, the Rector, Fr. Philippe Mbarga, Staff and Seminarians of the Major Seminary of Nkolbisson; and the various groups and individuals for their invaluable contribution.
We entrust the fruits, resolutions, recommendations of this Seminar to the Blessed Mary "Mother of God's Word" and "Mother of Faith", "the one in whom the interplay between the word of God and faith was brought to perfection" (Verbum Domini 27).