Pope Francis Lauds Nairobi Congress on Theology as “a sign of an outgoing African Church”

Pope Francis delivering a video message. Credit: ANSA

Pope Francis has expressed his delight about the ongoing second biannual Pan-African Catholic Congress on Theology, Society, and Pastoral Life, which members of the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTPAN) organized in Nairobi, Kenya.

The vision of PACTPAN is to “bridge the gap between pastoral practice and multi-disciplinary scholarly work on the African continent by collaboratively listening to both God and our people, in order to inspire hope and transformational faith and promote and curate best practices for the betterment of Church and society.” 

In a video recording played to the participants Tuesday, July 19, the first of the four-day Congress, the Holy Father said that the coming together of theologians from across Africa is “a sign of the outgoing African Church”.

“Coming together to discern what God is telling us today, not only to meet challenging needs with certainty, but also to make African dreams come true (social, cultural, ecological and ecclesial dreams) is already a sign of an outgoing African Church,” Pope Francis said in his video message published by the Holy See Press Office on July 19.

He described the Congress that is taking place at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) as “a sign of hope that theologians, laity, Priests, men and women religious, Bishops have taken the initiative to walk together” to promote the Church in Africa.


In my visits to Africa, the Holy Father said, “I have always been impressed by the faith and resilience of these peoples. As I commented during my trip to the Central African Republic in 2015, ‘Africa always surprises us.’”

“Bring out the best of you in these reflections, so that the result will be a surprise, so that that African creation that surprises us all can be born,” Pope Francis said in his message to the participants of the July 19-22 Congress that is focusing on “on what it means to be a vital church”

He an African saying to encouraged participants in the Congress to foster encounters, saying, “The wisdom of the African ancestors reminds us for this important call that ‘mountains never meet, but people do’. Let us continue on. Together. Accompanying one another, helping one another, and growing together.”

Pope Francis expressed optimism that what will be discussed during the Congress will act as good news to the poor and transform not just people but also communities.

“May a wisdom theology, as you propose, be the good news of mercy for the poor and nourish people and communities in their struggle for life, peace and hope,” the Holy Father told participants in the Congress that PACTPAN has organized under the theme, “Walking together for a vital Church in Africa and in the world”.

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He concluded, “May the Holy Spirit inspire you - may paths emerge from this congress that the Church needs: paths of missionary, ecological conversion, peace, reconciliation and transformation of the whole world.”

In an interview with ACI Africa ahead of the Congress, the organizing secretary of PACTPAN and the co-convener of the Pan-African Congress said the Holy Father would have a message for participants. 

“All I know is that it is going to be a message of encouragement,” Sr. Mūmbi Kīgūtha said in reference to Pope Francis’ message during the July 14 interview, and added, “It is going to be a surprise for all of us; so, we are all anticipating.”

Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letters such as Laudato Si’, Fratelli Tutti, and Amoris Laetitia will inspire discussions during the Congress, the member of the Sisters of the Precious Blood (CPPS) told ACI Africa, adding that participants will also deliberate on issues about children and women in the African context.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.