Bishops of Eastern Africa - AMECEA - Conclude their Plenary Assembly Themed “Environmental Impact on Integral Human Development”

 The 20th AMECEA Plenary Assembly-themed “Environmental Impact on Integral Human Development,” concluded on July 18th in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
AMECEA is an acronym for Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa. It is a Catholic service organization for the National Episcopal Conferences of the eight countries of Eastern Africa, namely Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Djibouti and Somalia are affiliate members.
We want to assure our brothers and sisters in the region and beyond, who are affected by the negative effects of climate change such as floods, that they are not alone. We prayerfully and in a caring spirit stand with you in your struggles,” read the communique.
The Plenary Assembly, which consists of Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and distinguished delegates from all AMECEA member episcopal conferences reflected on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si during the 10-day-long plenary to discuss issues of environmental concern.
The Chairman of AMECEA Bishop Charles Kasonde has thanked Tanzanians for their generosity in welcoming the delegates of the 20th AMECEA Plenary. Bishop Kasonde also emphasized that every baptized person has been called to witness the love of Jesus Christ in which there will be moments of turbulence, trial and tribulation. 
“We should not give up but remain steadfast and witness the truth that we have found in our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is an encouragement that whenever we meet trouble and also difficulties in our mission let us not give up but remain faithful to the God, and that is the spirit of missionary, spirit of a soldier of Christ,” he continued. 
“Let what we do be inspired by the Word of God. Priority is to receive the word of God so that what we do is emanating from the love of Christ and coming from that love we have experienced from Lord Jesus Christ. And then we shall go out, just as we are doing here we have come to worship the Lord, listen to His word that may speak to us, he may help us to reflect”.

In the communique, the bishops acknowledged that “despite the success stories shared on the implementation of the Laudato Si message in the region, member Conferences have also faced challenges which need new pastoral strategies so that promoting ecological justice and mitigating climate change are not mere words but concrete and practical ‘journeying together’ on the path of conversion as proposed in the seven Laudato Si goals.”
The plenary also admitted to the existence of an ecological crisis within the AMECEA region and out of it, as evidenced by the negative effects of climate change which, “are posing a growing threat to the socio-economic development of our countries and the sustainability of people’s livelihood in Eastern Africa. The scramble for natural resources has often resulted in conflicts and wars, which make the ‘cry of the Earth and of the poor even louder.”
The bishops reiterated the urgency in conducting aggressive sensitization at a basic community level to raise awareness and improve communication with the people on care for the environment while emphasizing the role of Catholic Social Teaching on environmental care and the importance of, “integrating eco-education and ecological activities in education programs for the empowerment of the youth and children in all schools and houses of formation to the priesthood and consecrated life.”
Also, the Plenary explained the need for all episcopal conferences to strengthen their advocacy role toward environmental care policies and laws that will curb the negative human practices but in a way that is sensitive to the welfare of their people as guided by the principles of social justice and highlighted the need for the Catholic Church in AMECEA region to mobilize the communities on care for environment and change of mindset.
“We, the Catholic Bishops in the AMECEA region firmly make a commitment to respond to the cry of the earth and the cry of poor in fulfilment of our God-given mandate,” the Eastern African Catholic bishops averred.