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Planned Jesuit Inaugural Theological Lecture in Ghana to “celebrate our living legends”

A poster announcing the Sarpong Theological Lecture (STL) scheduled to take place on Friday, 1 October 2021. Credit: Arrupe Jesuit Institute (AJI)

Honoring and celebrating living legends who shaped theology in Africa is expected to be the focus of a virtual biennial event that is organized by the Arrupe Jesuit Institute (AJI), a Ghana-based social justice centre of the Jesuit North-West Africa Province.

Scheduled to take place on Friday, October 1, the Sarpong Theological Lecture (STL) is a biennial forum that honors the intellectual legacy of the Catholic Archbishop emeritus of Ghana’s Kumasi Archdiocese, Peter Kwasi Sarpong.

“One of the objectives of this webinar is to honour the intellectual legacy of emeritus Archbishop Peter Kwasi Sarpong by exploring issues and trends in African Christianity with boldness, originality, depth, understanding and acuity,” the Executive Director of the Accra-based institute, Fr. Addy Kpanie told ACI Africa Thursday, September 30.

Fr. Kpanie added, “This is something that we at the Arrupe Institute would like to revisit in terms of honouring and celebrating our living legends.”

Archbishop Sarpong, the Jesuit Priest further told ACI Africa during the interview, “has done a lot in terms of theology with a focus on inculturation.”

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“It is already important that Archbishop Sarpong is still with us. We are able to enter into dialogue with his ideas and see how together we move forward and become more and more deeper in our theological thinking,” Fr. Kpanie added.

The Ghanaian Jesuit Priest noted that the biennial lecture will “not only appeal to academics but also attract a diverse audience with the aim of fostering dialogue on issues confronting African societies such as good governance, human rights and cultural values.”

The first African recipient of the Ratzinger Prize, Fr Paul Béré, is set to deliver the inaugural Sarpong Theological Lecture on the topic, “Because Peoples Differ: Should African Theology Go Global?”

The Burkinabe Jesuit Priest who holds a doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Rome-based Pontifical Biblical Institute where he currently lectures made history in 2019 as the first ever African to win the Ratzinger Prize, which rewards the work of theologians and specialists from related disciplines.

In the September 30 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Kpanie said Fr Béré was the ideal choice to deliver the inaugural lecture given his “globally-recognized theological acumen.”

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“Fr Béré, who I was privileged to have as a teacher, is a first-rate theologian with a global reputation and it will be a tremendous honor to have him come and deliver these lectures in honor of Archbishop Sarpong.”

Despite Fr Béré’s numerous commitments, Fr. Kpanie said the “2019 Ratzinger Prize co-laureate with Canadian scholar Charles Taylor is enthusiastic about giving the lecture.”

The October 1 virtual event has been organized under the theme, “Exploring issues and trends in African Christianity with boldness, originality, depth, understanding and acuity.”

During the September 30 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Kpanie also shared his thoughts about African Theology saying, “The challenges to African Theology relate to what may be termed the leisure of thought, namely, the resource of time and money to be given to the study of the things of God.”

Confronted with many other existential challenges, including basic subsistence, the Jesuit Priest said, “it is often hard either to engage in or to support the task of theology, a very crucial task.”

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