“Church renewal and revival, historically, has been from small groups of people,” Fr. Stan says in the January 10 podcast, and adds, “Africa which has often been seen as the periphery of the Church has become the center. Out of Africa God is speaking to the entire Church about what faith can bring out in the people.”
He echoes Fr. Ojacor’s sentiments about the exponential growth of Christianity in Africa, saying, “Africans are incurably religious.”
The Catholic Priests also discussed the role of faith and politics in turning Africa's possibilities and hopes into reality in 2023.
According to Fr. Ojacor, faith in the context of the growth of the Church in Africa is the trust that “God has been at work, is at work, and will be at work in Africa and the Church.”
“I see faith as a factor that will impact on the people, not just individuals, but to families and groups,” he says in the podcast.
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“Some people say that faith in Africa is one-mile-long and one-inch-deep, while that in the west is one-inch-long and one-mile-deep,” Fr. Ojacor says, and continues, “In 2023, we need to define our identity as the Church in Africa, and to realize that there is something we can bring to the universal Church.”
Commenting on the issue of identity, Fr. Stan highlights the need for the Church in Africa to relate to the reality of the continent, saying, “Our Church must look African to us.”
“If our people are poor, we Priests and Bishops become poor with our people. If our people are crying, we cry with them. The Synodal process should call us to our identity. What we should ask ourselves is whether we are a Church that is truly African. If we do not bridge that gap between where we are as Church leaders and where people are, then there will be a problem,” he says.
“I have seen places where Priests and the Religious have the smell of the sheep, Priests and the Religious who have died, and bear the marks of being in the trenches,” the Nigerian Catholic Priest says.
His sentiments were echoed by his Ugandan counterpart who underlines the need for the Church “to become everything to save souls.”
“St. Paul says, ‘I became all things to all people so that through the Gospel I can save some’. This is an identity that we need to be able to articulate as Africans, how to become a Church to Africa, so that we can save Africa and to bring them to the universal kingdom of God,” Fr. Ojacor says in the January 10 podcast.
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.