IMBISA Plenary 2016

Laudato Si’: E-interview with Bishop José Luis Ponce de Leon, IMC.

(Photo Credits: Bishop José Luis).

The Inter-regional Meeting of Bishops in Southern Africa, (IMBISA) held its 11th plenary meeting in Maseru, Lesotho, from the 22nd to the 26th of November 2016, during which the theme “Empowering the laity for effective engagement in socio political and environmental issues: ‘Laudato Si’ as a point of reference”, was considered thoroughly.

In his Blog, the Bishop of Manzini, Swaziland, Rt. Rev. José Luis Ponce de Leon IMC, explains that IMBISA is an organ of Liaison and Pastoral Cooperation between Episcopal Conferences of Angola and São Tome & Principe (CEAST), Lesotho Catholic Bishops’ Conference (LCBC), Mozambique Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CEM), Namibia Catholic Bishops Conference (NCBC), Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ Conference which is made up of Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland (SACBC) and Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC). Bishop José Luis adds that “every three years we (IMBISA) come together, rotating the countries, to reflect on a certain theme and elect the new leadership. In this case we met at “That Bosiu” (Maseru, Lesotho).”

IMBISA Plenary 2016

We caught up with Bishop José Luis at the conclusion of the plenary, and he was kind enough to offer us some thoughts to our questions in this e-interview:

CYNESA: Pope Francis, in Laudato Si’, invites us to ecological conversion. How can lay people in Africa live out their ecological vocation?

Bishop José Luis: I would not have the courage to talk about “lay people in Africa” as our contexts might be very different. I can just share with you what we spoke during the meeting of IMBISA.

I believe that one of the common elements we picked up is the need to create awareness. Personally I sometimes feel that our “Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation” (JPIC) are not able to dedicate time and resources to the “IC” of their name.

As bishops we also became aware of the lack of formation at this level and whole of the social doctrine among our laity… because we have not provided it. It is dimension we need to address as soon as possible.

IMBISA Plenary 2016

Then, through concrete actions, which will help everyone make an impact locally like

  • a commitment to stop wasting,
  • to commit to using water carefully and wisely (the drought situation we have been going through for the last two years could help everyone see this)
  • to plant trees and grow vegetables where possible
  • to stop using plastics as much as possible

CYNESA: In what ways, would you suggest, can young people within the IMBISA region and beyond, implement the outcomes of the 11th IMBISA plenary?

Bishop José Luis: Young people: could engage in “clean up our area” campaigns. I am aware of a parish in our diocese where national events might leave the place pretty dirty, our youth arrives after to “clean up”. Again, this helps them become aware and at the same time make a difference;

There is a need also to become aware of the “throw-away” culture that is affecting us all and moving towards a “re-cycle / re-use / repair / refuse (I think particularly of the amount of plastic bags we get at shops… we could do without) / respect” and so many other “R” that have practical consequences in the way we live and care for the environment.


Bishop José Luis - Swaziland
Bishop José Luis – Swaziland

CYNESA thanks Bishop José Luis for the e-interview and looks forward to help implement the outcomes of the 11th IMBISA plenary.

Click here to read the final statement of the 11th IMBISA plenary.


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