Kenyan Archbishop Concerned about Declining “missionary impulse”, Calls for Reflection

Archbishop Philip Anyolo of Kenya’s Archdiocese of Nairobi. Credit: ACI Africa

The Archbishop of Kenya’s Archdiocese of Nairobi has expressed concern about what he described as a global decline in the missionary spirit, and called on the people of God in Africa to reflect on how the African Church can assist in missionary work across the world.

In his welcoming address at an ongoing Theological Symposium at the Kenya-based Tangaza University College (TUC), Archbishop Philip Anyolo noted that the Church in Europe has been most affected by the crisis.

“The missionary impulse is in decline in many parts of the world. Christian faith is in decline where it used to dominate. In Europe, which was one time the epicenter of Catholic missionary efforts, the Church is in serious decline,” the Archbishop said Thursday, February 22.

Credit: ACI Africa

Organized by the Department of Dogmatic Theology at TUC’s School of Theology (SOT), the symposium is themed “Make Disciples of all Nations: The Missionary Mandate of Christ… in the Religious, Cultural, and Social context of Africa Today.”


According to Archbishop Anyolo, consumerism, individualism, secularism, and the media are to blame for the decreasing numbers of Church attendees.

“Secular media bombards people with secular messages that are critical to Christianity: happiness comes from sex, happiness comes from money, and happiness is fulfilled in power. Life is too busy to have time for religion,” he said and added, “Africa is also negatively affected by different cultures, secular media and the globalized democratic view of the world.”

The Kenyan Archbishop said that in the face of the challenges to Christian faith, the people of God in Africa ought to reflect on “the major reasons for the decline of the missionary impetus in the Church in many parts of the world.”

He added that Africans should be vigilant “so that a similar tragedy does not attack us.”

Archbishop Anyolo further said that the people of God in Africa should ask themselves how they can assist in the missionary efforts of the global Church. 

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He said the Church in Africa is the life of the global Church.

Referencing Pope Benedict XVI in the Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus, he said, “A precious treasure is to be found in the soul of Africa, where I perceive a ‘spiritual ‘lung’ for a humanity that appears to be in a crisis of faith and hope1 on account of the extraordinary human and spiritual riches of its children, its variegated cultures, its soil and substances.” 

Archbishop Anyolo also called on the people to “examine our consciousness.”

Credit: ACI Africa

“Has my love for Christ and the missionary mandate grown cold over time or does it still gaze in the face of Jesus Christ,” he said at the two-day that had Robert Cardinal Sarah, the Prefect emeritus of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as the keynote speaker.  


Other speakers at the event included Archbishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba of Kenya’s Kisumu Archdiocese, who doubles as the Vice Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Archbishop Bert van Megen, the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan, among others. 

Archbishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba of Kenya’s Kisumu Archdiocese. Credit: ACI Africa 

In his remarks, the Nuncio said age, liberalism, and individualism influence Church attendance. 

“Individualism basically teaches that whatever I would like to do, I try to achieve my own absolute freedom. Nobody else has to say anything about that. If we grow up with that kind of philosophy, of course, the Church has nothing to say because the Church, in its own identity, has a moral authority,” he said.

Archbishop Bert van Megen. Credit: ACI Africa

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Archbishop van Megen said, “Many people in Europe reject the idea of God because God in many ways is felt as a threat to their freedom.”

Reflecting on how age affects Christianity, the Dutch-born Vatican Diplomat said, “Of all the children that are born in the Netherlands, only 20% are baptized. That means the overwhelming majority of the population that goes up now are atheists or do not baptize and have no connection with the Catholic church or other churches in general. That is the future of Europe.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.