Reflecting the Mind of the
Vatican Since 1850

Ecclesia in Africa: What is this Church?
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The Church in Africa is making its presence felt, ensuring that it is being talked about. Is this really perceptible at first glance? For some, there is not “one” Africa, but “many” Africas, which can only be perceived through a polychromatic window of many shades. Yet, when African Christians – especially sub-Saharan Christians – talk about Africa, the issue of cultural identity seems to come to the fore as an absolute and non-negotiable value. Added to this is the political dimension against the backdrop of a history marked by the trafficking of black Africans and colonization.

Now, in order to understand the claims of the present, one has to turn to this past, to this history and not search for an “African essence.” Even in regions that would suggest another political history, such as North Africa, Ethiopia or the islands – for example, Mauritius – the Church can only be understood in the light of political issues, particularly the encounter between different peoples. It would be an illusion to dissociate the life of the Church in Africa from the predominantly wounded history of its peoples.

The question in the title, “What is this Church?” is deliberately intended as an expression of wonder. To answer it adequately, our reflections will try to answer another question: What reference points should be used to engage in a dialogue with the Church in Africa? By proposing references, and thus equipped, we hope that anyone who hears stories of the Church in Africa, will have a starting point for listening to it, understanding it and engaging in a deep and fruitful dialogue with it, so that it can express itself more and better.
© Union of Catholic Asian News 2024
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