4 We, the members of SIGNIS Africa gathered as Catholic communication professionals in Africa, with gratitude to God, have deliberated on the theme: “Communication, Synodality and Church in Africa”. This theme stemmed from the ongoing synodal path of the universal Church announced by the Holy Father, Pope Francis. The process is rooted in the path of communion, the active participation and collaboration of all Christ’s faithful in the mission of saving souls and achieving eternal salvation. The focus of the Assembly was to outline viable ways to encourage unity in the journey of faith on the African continent through various means of communication. The event was attended by participants from our various African countries.
5 Acknowledging with gratitude the presence of His Eminence Cardinal Antoine Kambanda, Archbishop of Kigali; Bishop Filippe Rukamba of the Diocese of Butare, President of the Episcopal Conference of Rwanda; Bishop Edouard Sinayobye of the Diocese of Cyangugu, President of the Episcopal Commission for Communication of Rwanda; Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of the Diocese of Oyo, Nigeria, President of the Pan-African Episcopal Committee for Social Affairs
6 Communications (CEPACS), and Bro. Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, Minister of Local Administration of Rwanda.
8 Thanking the presence of Msgr. Janvier Yameogo of the Dicastery for Communication, Vatican City; Fr. Dr. Paul Samasumo, Vice President of SIGNIS World and staff member of the Dicastery for Communication, Vatican City; Rev. Mr. Prof. Dominic Dipio of Makerere University, Uganda, and Rev. Fr. Bernardo Suate, staff member of the Dicastery for Communication, Vatican City and former Director of SIGNIS Services in Rome.
9 Moved by the testimonies shared with us and our visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center, we pledge to always use the media to promote a culture of peace.
10 Inspired by the rapid infrastructure and technological and social development in Rwanda, a few years after the tragic events of the genocide, we believe that a new and better Africa is possible. Despite how short our stay was, we gained useful insights and learned deep lessons about the Rwandan nation.
11 Inform all SIGNIS Africa members that the so far interim constitution of SIGNIS-Africa signed in 2019 at the SIGNIS Africa Congress in Addis Ababa has been ratified and adopted as the substantive legal document to guide and regulate the operations of the association.
12 Encouraged by the ratification, elections were held based on the new constitution for the new board of directors of SIGNIS Africa. The following officers were duly elected by secret ballot for the next four-year term:
19 Synod on Synodality
20 In his opening address, Bishop Badejo stated that the ongoing Universal Church Synod on Synodality is a communication project that challenges media professionals in Africa to devise practical ways to give a voice to those marginalized by some of our ecclesiastical structures and in society in general. This calls us to a new way of being Church.
21 Delegates were further enlightened on the need to see the media as a true and viable evangelization tool, the effective use of which will help the Church fulfill its missionary mandate (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
22 In the various sessions and presentations, the participants were enlightened on the worrying realities of the division in the African continent that has had catastrophic consequences that adversely affect the well-being of God’s people.
24 At the end of our Congress and Assembly of Delegates, the members of SIGNIS Africa raised these concerns and recommendations:
25 We advance the following recommendations. Namely,
26 To African Catholic Communicators
27 In the spirit of synodality, all Catholic communication structures in Africa must prioritize introspection and achieve a more inclusive and participatory Church. This also means bringing more women and youth into our governance structures. All Catholic communicators on the continent must be constantly aware that listening is essential. Walking together in synodality implies listening on a deeper level to all people without prejudice. We recommend that all national episcopal conferences adopt the Nigerian and Burkina Faso model of commemorating World Communication Day for a whole week instead of celebrating one day. The week-long commemoration distributed in parishes can be used for media education and various awareness-raising activities in Church communications. Social communication is the servant of the evangelizing mission of the Church. As Catholic communicators in Africa, we renew our availability as communicators at the parish, diocesan, national, regional and continental levels to further the mission of the Church. Our call is for the Church in general to adopt and incorporate social communications in all pastoral activities. Synodality is about respectfully approaching the other. We encourage our Catholic communicators in Africa to learn more than one international language and cultivate a spirit of networking. This will help build bridges, foster the exchange of media projects, and ensure efficient engagement in our service to the Church and humanity.
28 To African society in general
29 We continue to watch with anguish and utter disapproval the unprovoked, relentless and senseless attacks, kidnappings and killings against defenseless citizens and in particular Christians in many African countries such as Nigeria and Burkina Faso, indeed the entire Sahel region. We strongly urge African governments to achieve sanity and security. In building the new Africa we want, African governments, groups and individuals must strive to transcend the artificial land borders to which the legacies of colonialism have subjected the continent. Now is the time to pursue all the lofty ideals of connectivity that the African Union has often talked about but rarely implemented. As Africans, we are proud of our identity, we celebrate and promote our values and esteem our dignity as people of noble heritage. This is a mantra worth promoting in our schools, churches, and communities.
31 The members of SIGNIS Africa thank God for the success of this Congress. Thanks to all the communicators who sacrificed themselves to attend this important meeting. Our hosts, Rwanda, exceeded our expectations and we thank the Bishops of the Rwandan Episcopal Conference for their support and encouragement. We thank all the groups and individuals who have contributed to the success of this Congress. We remain indebted to the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith, which, over the years, has partnered with and accompanied our communication projects by providing much-needed funding.
32 Finally, we wish success to the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) in its next Assembly in Accra, Ghana. We pray for God’s fatherly blessings and guidance on all his people in Africa and the world. We entrust all our communication efforts to the intercession of Our Lady of Kibeho.
33 Delivered today, July 15, 2022 and Signed by: