(Bishop of Banjul, Gambia)
The most important teaching of Vatican II was the vision of Church as community. It is this vision that should determine out pastoral priorities. The place and role of the laity is paramount ? they are the Church and their mission is the mission of the Church itself. Through Christian initiation a person becomes Church and is challenged to live out the implications of baptismal responsibility. But they laity have been denied their baptismal dignity by a poor theology of baptism and ministry. And it is because the latter is still heavily clericalised that the Synod should examine more closely the whole area of shared ministry. Vatican II ecclesiology has emphasised service to and involvement in the world. The community called "Church" lives in the world in order to serve to minister. And this whole area of ministry is first and foremost the fulfilment of baptismal responsibilities. This demands lay participation in all areas of Church life, and calls for collaboration in ministry. Therefore, I call upon this Synod, firstly, to recognise that collaborative ministry is an imperative, not an option, and secondly, to allow Churches to shape ministries adapted to their particular pastoral priorities.
Regarding pastoral needs, I request the Synod to seek ways to bridge the gap and produce effective dialogue between the Church's law on marriage and socio-cultural realities of African customary marriage. Until such dialogue is effective, large numbers of people will be deprived of Communion.
Also, could not Baptism and the traditional ceremony of "naming" be fused into one rite?