Bishops of the Catholic Church in Africa and the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday affirmed the need for cooperation between the church and the state to ensure that our society is united together in harmony and ensuring that no one is left behind.
The bishops gathered at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos, to celebrate the thanksgiving mass of golden jubilee of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) with the theme “CEPACS at 50: Promoting A Synodal Church in Africa Through Social Communication,” which was concelebrated by the President of Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, the Archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Bishop of Oyo Diocese and President of CEPACS, Most Rev Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, in his homily during the anniversary thanksgiving mass that marked the opening ceremony of CEPACS @50, explained that CEPACS was established by the bishops of SECAM at Ibadan, Nigeria in 1973.
Bishop Badejo appreciated Sanwo-Olu, and described the governor’s presence as “a statement for the importance of church/state relationship in our country, in our continent and all over the world indeed to show that the state and the church must have only one end, which is to make the children of God live a life of dignity and come closer to God.”
Bishop Badejo added that the theme of this anniversary teaches that promoting a synodal church for communication in Africa is important.
“This theme is how to best engage communication for building a church that is more communal, more responsive to the people of God and a church that is less bureaucratic and more relational not only to Catholics but to every segment of the society. I have no doubt that such a church will be a blessing to every generation and society.
“The project speaks to the key characteristics and attitudes on synodality, which means walking more together, listening more together to one another and making sure that no one is left behind in the scheme of things. That objective of a synodal church in my view is a call for more effective communication among us human beings.
“It demands that we build relationships and prioritise words, actions and processes which favour communion, which favour coming together, which favour working for unity, harmony and peace.”
He said that, “the unity and advancement of all humanity is the ultimate purpose of all good communication.”
Sanwo-Olu in his remarks said it would require all of us putting our hands on deck to ensure that every stratum of the society must find its place and its voice in this new dispensation.
He added: “Government is not for a set of people. Government and the church are the first things that were set in the Bible and we must work together at all time.
“We must ensure that the people are first in everything that we are doing and that the lives of people are important in all our interventions. And I am sure this is also the credo of Christianity and the Catholic Church.”
In his remarks also during the thanksgiving service, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication in the Vatican, Dr. Paolo Ruffini, said that communication “is the gift that God gave human beings that he created in his image to be in relationship with one another, to build a community and to weave communion among us through communications.
“Communication and communion has a connection. At the most profound level communication is the giving of self in love.”
In his welcome address during the service, the Archbishop of Lagos, Most Reverend Alfred Adewale Martin, said that it was an honour for him to welcome the bishops and other participants to the CEPACS as they gather to celebrate the golden jubilee of the of CEPACS.
“We are very delighted to very warmly welcome the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu. We welcome all the delegates from our continent that have come to celebrate the golden jubilee in Lagos.
“It is our delight that we in Lagos will be given the honour of hosting the golden jubilee of the committee that is so important in the scheme of things for the church in Africa.
“I will say without any fear of contradiction that the church in Nigeria will continue to support and take active part in realising the objectives and the ideals of the SECAM in general and CEPACS in particular.”