Use Synodal Process to Address “pressing challenges”: Vatican Cardinal to Church in Africa

Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. Credit: ACI Africa

A Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization is calling upon the people of God in Africa to use the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality, which Pope Francis has extended to 2024, to find solutions to the challenges they experience.

In his message ahead of the November 1 dialogue between Pope Francis and young people from Catholic institutions of higher learning in Africa, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle underscores the need to involve the youth in the Synodal process, saying “their potential” can come in handy when addressing challenges on the continent.

“One of my wishes for the Church in Africa is that she comes out of this Synodal process with renewed and shared ways on how to address the most pressing challenges on the continent,” Cardinal Tagle says in his message shared with ACI Africa Wednesday, October 26.

In this ongoing Synodal process, the Vatican-based Cardinal says, “the Church in Africa should seek to involve young people directly in the life of society and of the church, in order to profit from their potential.”

He says that the Church in Africa has witnessed “remarkable achievements in evangelization” over the decades but she faces “unique and numerous challenges that affect and threaten her journey of faith.”


The Filipino Cardinal makes reference to some of the challenges in Africa, including ethnic rivalries, conflicts, violence, chronic corruption and political instability and says that such vices have “serious impact on the Church’s evangelizing activities”.

He says that since salvation embraces all dimensions of human existence, the highlighted challenges can be addressed through dialogue as an integral part of the evangelizing ministry of the Church in Africa. 

The 65-year-old Cardinal who started his Episcopal Ministry in December 2001 as the Bishop of Imus in the Philippines challenges young people in Africa to be agents of transformation in their “respective” contexts.

He says, “I believe that young people can transform their respective local Churches and societies, making them more prosperous and more just; they can take the destiny of the African continent into their own hands.”

The Vatican Cardinal goes on to highlight insecurity, immigration, the crisis of leadership, and the lack of unity and harmony due to the manipulation of identities as main areas that institutions of higher learning in Africa and young people can address.

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On the issue of disunity that emanates from manipulation based on ethnic, religious and regional affiliation, Cardinal Tagle urges the youth and the entire Church in Africa to “foster unity without destroying or taking away diversity”.

He decries political manipulations that he says a number of African leaders promote through corruption in view of gaining political loyalty, saying that such behavior poses a challenge to peace among the people.

The Catholic Church leader who was elevated to Cardinal in November 2012 says that he finds it regrettable that religious tensions in Africa are at times used to gain and retain political influence and not to save souls.

In his message shared with ACI Africa, the Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery that has merged the former Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization also speaks on the crisis of leadership in Africa, saying that it has contributed to underdevelopment.

“African nations are badly lacking the leadership that can bring together the resources and point their people towards development,” Cardinal Tagle says.


He urges the Laity, especially young people, to embrace leadership and “apply the values of the gospel to the economic, social and political sphere,” in order to bring about transformation on the continent.

The Vatican-based Cardinal underscores the need to address the issue of insecurity and immigration on the African continent.

He makes reference to instances of insecurity issues in Africa including attacks from Jihad terrorist groups and the recent attack in Mozambique that claimed the life of a Comboni Missionary Sister and says that such incidences erodes the confidence of the young people.

Cardinal Tagle says that the danger of insecurity and instability has led to the issue of brain drain especially among the youth in Africa, resulting in increased immigration.

He challenges political leaders in Africa and all related stakeholders to make African countries more attractive to their respective citizens so that the youth can envision their future from there rather than migrating to other nations in search for the so-called greener pastures.

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To foster change and transformation in Africa, Cardinal Tagle says that the Church in Africa needs to utilize religion and education to promote an integral growth of the human person.

He narrowed down to the Catholic Church and said that “Catholicism should be a transformative religion in Africa”.

Cardinal Tagle said that many efforts by the international or continental organizations to foster peace in Africa have always failed because of the “failure to respect God” in the attempts.

“Failure to respect God is also failure to respect the human person,” he says, adding that “People who are not at peace with God can hardly be at peace with one another.”

He underlines the value of formal education and advocates for the empowerment of the young people in Africa through quality education that is capable of responding to the concrete needs of the society.

“There is an urgent need to empower the youth so that they can take responsibility for themselves and for each other,” Cardinal Tagle says in his message ahead of the November 1 dialogue between Pope Francis and young people from Catholic institutions of higher learning in Africa.

Launched in 2020, the Synod on Synodality specifically stands out for involving people at the grassroots in the decision-making process of the Church, inviting all members of the Church and beyond to journey together as a community.

On November 1, young people drawn from various Catholic Universities in Africa are set to engage with Pope Francis in a dialogue that is aimed at stirring full participation of the youth in the synodal process.

As part of this process, Pope Francis has participated in a listening session with Catholic university students from Latin America and North America. Now, he plans to have a similar engagement with young people in Africa.

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.