Africa Urged to Be a Protagonist in Evangelization

Recommendations of a Missiology Congress

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KINSHASA, Congo, JULY 25, 2004 ( Local Churches in Africa should send priests to other dioceses on the continent and even to Europe, suggested an international missiology congress held in Congo.

The recent “Tertio Millennio” congress has as its theme “The Future of the ‘Ad Gentes’ Missionary Activity of the Church.” It was organized by the Congolese bishops’ conference with the sponsorship of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

To facilitate the exchange of priests, the congress recommended in its final message, “the creation of a common and inter-African center of missionary preparation and collaboration among the regional Churches to coordinate the exchange of persons and objectives.”

Bishop Tharcisse Tshibangu Tshishiku of Mbujimaiyi, president of the event’s organizing committee, told the Vatican agency Fides that the idea is “to create in Africa a center of formation and studies on the challenges and problems of the mission dedicated to St. Daniel Comboni, who over 100 years ago had the intuition to form the missionaries themselves directly in Africa.”

The participants asked the bishops of the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar “to draw up a truly missionary program, paying attention to the pastoral but also to the sociological and political dimension, to respond to the challenges posed by sects…misery, poverty, and the political exclusion of Africa.”

The final document also emphasizes the need for formation, including theological, of the laity, making them also protagonists of the missionary life of the continent and of each society.

The congress, planned in light of John Paul II’s apostolic letter “Nuovo Millennio Ineunte,” launched “many interesting proposals that have been included in the conclusions,” said Bishop Tshibangu.

“A much-heard exigency” at the congress “is the need to create exchanges and relations between the different local Churches,” he said, “between those of the north and of the south of the world,” but “also between those of the continent itself.”

“At the operative level,” he added, “it was suggested to organize in Africa every year a one-week meeting of missiology and missionary animation, in collaboration with the Pontifical Missionary Societies. These meetings should be held the week before World Mission Sunday.”

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