The Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) has resolved to revamp its operational structures across the African continent at the Diocesan, National, Regional, Continental and Universal levels. This is one of the resolutions issued by CEPACS subsequent to its 50th anniversary conference held recently at Lumen Christi Retreat and Media Centre, Lagos, Nigeria. The Resolution jointly signed by Most. Rev Emmanuel Badejo, Bishop of Oyo Diocese, Nigeria, and President of CEPACS and Very Rev. Fr. Andrew Kaufa smm, AMECEA Social Communication Coordinator on behalf of the CEPACS at 50 Organisers was made by over eighty participants across Africa, Madagascar and the Islands.
In a historic move, CEPACS aims to realise “a structure deeply rooted in the divine mission of evangelisation and communication that should coexist with a collective journey to build a synodal Church that sufficiently integrates the Gospel message into the ‘new culture’ created by modern communications”; taking cognisance of the commitment made by its founding fathers in establishing CEPACS as a social communication continental structure mandated to coordinate activities for advancement of evangelisation through an authentic style of communication within our ecclesial communities.
The over 80 participants, comprising Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Religious, regional officials of communication along with the local and foreign partners of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), as well as lay communication experts, resolved thus; to enhance awareness and visibility of CEPACS, its mission, vision and objectives at all levels of the Church in the African continent through the regional and national conferences, and all Ecclesial communities; develop and strengthen CEPACS operational structures across the continent to facilitate engagement in a collective communication and synodal journey as well as grow together at the diocesan, national, regional, continental and universal levels; and form, and capacity-build the CEPACS continental Committee and also define its relationship with the regional and national episcopal conferences for the future.
According to CEPACS’ statement on resolution and recommendations from its 50th Anniversary, the body also resolved to develop a robust CEPACS long-term strategic plan with full operational framework outlining, among others, the structure and an organogram; operations principles, values and Theory of Change; definitive roles and place of the clergy, religious and lay communications experts in the Church; and collaboration and partnerships; design and revive the regional communication structures and rekindle the interest and commitment of Bishops of the various conferences in Africa; champion the ethical discourse in traditional, modern and contemporary Communication, especially in new media initiatives like artificial intelligence in relevant circles; as well as convene and hold further sessions (physical or virtual) with the regional bodies’ teams of social communication in devising how these resolutions could be moved forward.
To drive implementation of the resolutions, CEPACS however, made recommendations to its various stakeholders:
To the Regional and National Conferences
• Prioritise specialised training for media personnel in the region and local diocese and Churches to enable the Gospel message get everywhere as well as receive a positive reception;
• Facilitate adoption of appropriate digital media use as platform for evangelising, particularly the younger generation who use online applications most of the time;
• Deliberately develop social communications strategies and approaches and encourage the Dioceses to apply them in empowering all ecclesial groups;
• Advance innovative ways of using social communication and media in addressing contemporary challenges that the Church faces and building an understanding among the faithful to respond to such with confidence and humility; and
• Support the resolutions that have been developed and adopted by the session.
To the Dicastery for Social Communications, Vatican
• Continue collaboration with SECAM and other regional bodies to bring the synergies and the spirit of the Synodal church to reality; and
• Identify and facilitate learning spaces for CEPACS across the globe in areas of social communication in the Church.
To Symposium of Episcopal Conferences for Africa and Madagascar (SECAM)
• Facilitate sharing of the outcome of the session with and encourage all the Arch/Bishops and Superiors to invest in both human and material resources to effectively create a media field of evangelisers capable of influencing the environment and culture of modern times;
• Advance collaboration with other international communication church bodies across the continent, in particular SIGNIS and UCAP, for learning and broad use of social communication in addressing common issues facing the church of Christ.
• Strengthen the coordination of CEPACS at the Secretariat with defined working structures for ease of operations and implementation of the agreed areas of actions.
• Design resource mobilisation strategy for CEPACS to facilitate effectiveness and efficiency of Social Communications.
• Learning from the regional associations of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences such as AMECEA and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, design and incorporate World Communication Day/Week as CEPACS annual programme, whose activities will be part of a framework of raising awareness, doing media literacy campaign; and fundraising for communication activities.
• Facilitate and support the realisation of the resolutions made at the Conference. CEPACS underlined that the true evangelisation and witness to Jesus Christ in the synodal Church can only be achieved when, journeying together, as it called for a common understanding on how to develop, implement and coordinate social communication among the regional and national conferences as well as other relevant arms in the ecclesial communities.