1994 Marks Turning Point for Church in Africa

Is Now an Adult Church Among Sister Churches

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ROME, NOV. 11, 2004 (Zenit.org).- At a time when the negative aspects of globalization are taking effect in Africa, «it will be the mission of the Church to globalize solidarity,» said an African prelate.

Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, spoke on Wednesday at the symposium on «Communion and Solidarity between Africa and Europe,» being held in Rome from Nov. 11-13.

An estimated 150 bishops from 62 countries have come together to reflect on their common responsibility for the Church and their peoples, reflected in the theme «Communion and Solidarity» between both continents.

With the sponsorship of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the collaboration of organizations of solidarity, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), is promoting this symposium together with the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE).

«The phenomenal growth of the Church in the last forty years in Africa is due to the grace of God, the commitment and dedication of African Christians themselves, but also the constant support and assistance from the older churches outside Africa, especially from Europe,» explained Bishop Onaiyekan, also president of SECAM.

And although for «a long time, the relationship between the Church of Europe and Africa has been largely one of giver to receiver, a new era is arising in which the need is increasingly seen «for new relationships based on mutual trust, communion, and solidarity,» he noted.

Continuing with his review, Bishop Onaiyekan said that since «Vatican Council II, the Church in Africa has been progressively taking her place as an adult Church among other sister Churches of the world,» until the Synod of Bishops of Africa in 1994, which was «a watershed in our recent development,» and reflected «the need for a greater consideration of the Church in Africa within the context of the world Church.»

However, «the problems of Africa cannot be solved by Africa alone,» he stressed.

Among the main challenges facing Africa today, Bishop Onaiyekan pointed out the phenomenon of globalization, of which his continent suffers all the «negative aspects.»

In this connection, he alerted that «[i]t will be the mission of the Church to globalize solidarity, thereby ensuring that the whole world, including Africa, shares in the blessings of a more united, caring, and sharing world.»

The desire for communion and solidarity with the Church in Africa has led to the publication in America of a pastoral letter entitled «A Call to Solidarity with Africa,» the president of SECAM reported.

«[A]fter this joint meeting of African and European bishops, we envisage another meeting for African and American bishops,» he concluded.

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