Christian Identity Meaningful in Commitment to Church, Society: Prelate in Benin to Youth

Archbishop Roger Houngbédji of Benin’s Cotonou Archdiocese

The importance of young people demonstrating their Christian identity through selfless service to the Church and society has been underscored at a public catechesis, which the Archbishop of Benin’s Cotonou Archdiocese organized.

In the March 7 catechesis titled, “Young Christians, what is your dream? Christian identity and current challenges,” Archbishop Roger Houngbédji highlighted the value of young people saying they represent the backbone of the Church amid present day challenges.

“My dear young people, if I have chosen to address you in particular through this itinerant catechesis in the different areas of our Diocese, it is because you constitute both the present and the future of the Church,” Archbishop Houngbédji said during the catechesis at the Saint Anthony of Padua Parish in Abomey-Calavi, located in the Atlantique Department of Benin.

Addressing the close to 500 youth, the Beninese Archbishop said, “Your Christian identity as young people can only give its full measure in your commitment in the Church and in society, in your living environments.”

“It is important to move away from a conception of Christian identity as a status acquired once and for all,” the 57-year-old Archbishop said, describing Christian identity as “a dynamic relationship that commits us to God, to the Church, to our neighbor and to society.”


He added, “Be young people who have fire in your hearts, young people who live daily in intimacy with the Holy Trinity.”

“Many of you who could have made a great contribution to the nation and society with your skills are simply being squeezed out because you refuse to join esoteric ideologies or sects,” the member of the Dominicans remarked.

In the light of this, Archbishop Houngbédji who has been at the helm of Cotonou Archdiocese since September 2016 invited young people to “remember the primacy of authentic faith. The starting point for you young Christians is to consider your faith as a non-negotiable precondition.”

“As young people, you dream of having a bright future, of obtaining a stable and well-paid job, of prospering socially and of founding your own home,” he said, adding that such dreams are “legitimate” before God.

“But if your faith, your relationship with God does not take precedence over all this, you risk being caught in the mirage of illusions,” Archbishop Houngbédji cautioned.

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Making reference to Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Christus Vivit, he said, “Young people loved by the Lord, do not allow yourselves to be bought, do not allow yourselves to be seduced, do not allow yourselves to be enslaved by ideological colonisations that put ideas in our heads and, in the end, make us become slaves, dependent, failures in life.”

The public catechesis brought together young people from the Dioceses within the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cotonou, including Godomey, Abomey-Calavi, Ouèdo, Lake Nokoué and Zinvié.

Reflecting on the objective of the catechesis, the Archdiocesan Youth Chaplain, Fr. Francis Adimou said, “This catechesis was launched following the Synod on Young People.”

“Among the fifteen priorities identified by the post-synodal document Christus Vivit in 2019 is the urgency of a pastoral conversion focused on being closer to young people,” Fr. Adimou said.

He added, “Together with the Archbishop, we identified a series of themes to form, accompany and awaken the awareness of young people.”


Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.