Addis Ababa (Etiopia), 03.02.2023 – The entire morning of the second working day of the Continental Synodal Assembly in Addis Ababa was dedicated to the practice of spiritual conversation: the method presented at the beginning of the assembly aimed at fostering listening to the Holy Spirit and mutual listening among the participants.
After reflecting on their personal experience of the synodal journey so far, checking which insights could help the Church to grow as a missionary synodal Church, and discussing the issues/tensions to be explored in the universal phase of the synod, participants continued their discernment on the 3 issues in the Working Document for the Continental Stage (DCS), drafted from the responses of the local Churches received by the General Secretariat of the Synod at the end of the first stage of the synod process.
Introducing the morning’s proceedings and providing a guide to reading the DCS was Fr Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator SJ, President of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar. He first invited the participants to recognize their common baptismal dignity. Baptism, the Jesuit recalled, “is our founding identity, which qualifies us to participate in the life and mission of the Church, in communion, sharing and dialogue with people of all denominations”. He then recalled that the heart of spiritual conversation “is prayer and silence” that allows all participants to express their opinions openly and honestly.
Referring then to the invitation to “widen the space of the tent”, Fr. Orobator recalled how the image of the tent taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah can be compared to the African Tukul, the house par excellence consisting of a roof, walls and a central pole. Whether it is a tent or a Tukul, “the Church-house has no doors that close, but a perimeter that continually widens”. It is “a tent, a family where everyone can find a place and a home.” Finally, the Jesuit repeatedly recalled how “this is a time to thank God who has brought us together, guided by the Spirit of God. This is a time to rejoice: let us not allow the weeds to hinder us; let us allow the spirit to lead us forward’.