Conference on Mission in Africa Seeks to Promote African Identity and Voice in Church

Conference toward 400years of Propaganda Fide: Nairobi
Credit: Br. Mateus, OFM Cap

The just concluded Nairobi tri-party conference, which sought to deliberate on the status of the evangelization mission in Africa saw participants emphasize the need to promote the African identity in the Church on the continent and to have the African voice in the universal Catholicism.

“The conference provided (a) forum to theologians to send their own evaluation of the mission in Africa to the Papal structure in charge of missions,” Fr.  Paul Beré, a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) at the Holy See told ACI Africa Thursday.

“There is (a) need for "africanness” in African Churches, but it is up to us (Africans) to make it happen,” Fr. Beré underscored in reference to the deliberations at the Nairobi conference convened in preparation for the 400th anniversary of Propaganda Fide to be held in 2022.

“Africa can find a solution to all its problems within, what we (Africans) simply need is the slightest desire to share the solutions across the continent,” Fr. Beré who lectures at Biblical Institute in Rome observed.

Organized by Missio-Aachen, the Pontifical Urbaniana University, and Tangaza University College of Nairobi, the five-day conference brought together theologians from different African countries.

“Our presentations were also on the Christian identity of Africans and how that reflects and participates in the universal Church,” Sr. Falola who belongs to the congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles told ACI Africa in the sidelines of the conference.

“It’s not an identity that enriches Africans only but also the universal Church,” the Nigerian-born and Rome-based Sr. said and added in anticipation of the celebration of 400 years of Propaganda Fide, “We hope we will be able to have an African voice, a voice that when that final discourse will be put forward in the celebration of 2022, African voice will be very much part of that.”

“Propaganda Fide has done a lot in the past to organize missionary activities in the African continent and it has helped the Church in Africa to be established,” Prof. Klaus Vellguth who heads the department of theological research at Missio Aachen remarked in an interview with ACI Africa.

“Now the challenge is for African Churches to contribute to the Universal Church, that means the theology and the idea of the Church must be originally African,” Prof. Vellguth who was one of the conveners of the conference explained.

Other Similar conferences towards the jubilee will be held in Latin America and Asia in 2020 and 2021.

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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]