(Archbishop of Mwanza, Tanzania)
1) Affirming the place of the laity in the Church
We need to affirm continually that the lay faithful have a rightful place in the Church. They are indeed the agents of evangelisation as proclamation. There is already a lot of good work which is being accomplished by the laity in the building of the Church in our African countries. Many of our parishes and outstations have been founded and sustained by the untiring efforts of men and women lay Catechists. Christian families and the Apostolic movements of the laity are enthusiastically engaged in building Small Christian Communities which seem to be the best way for us of being a Church in our African countries.
But in spite of all these goods efforts, the ingrained institutional and hierarchical model of the Church and the pre-Vatican II mentality, are still great obstacle for many of the people of God in the understanding and affirming the role of the lay faithful as being agents of proclamation. Even this Synod seems to imply this way of thinking when it says: "The Apostolic mission of the Bishops is shared by priests, men and women religious and lay persons, each with his or her own sphere." (no. 26 of the Instrumentum Laboris).
But according to Second Vatican Council, it is not the Apostolic mission of the Bishops which others share, but the mission of Christ, which the Bishops also share; for the Church is a Communion in which all are anointed by the Lord himself for the mission of the Church, carried out through many ministries (Apost. Actuos. 2,3) and in which there is a true equality between all with regard to the dignity and to the activity that is common to all the faithful in building up the Body of Christ (LG 32 and Instrumentum Laboris) and in which the Holy Spirit distributes graces among the faithful of every rank.
We must therefore respond urgently to the call of the Synod for the deep renewal of our Churches in Africa so that we may live the Gospel fully (Instrumentum Laboris 6,7,9,10,14,15,23,24,40) and vigorously affirm the role of the lay faithful in evangelisation as proclamation. Unless we undergo such a profound change of mind and heart in ourselves, it will not be possible for most of us to recognise, accept and affirm the rightful place of the laity as agents of proclamation and give them the necessary formation to exercise properly their ministries.
Original text: English