“An African Moment in Rome” – Summit of African Catholic Leaders

An important summit of African Catholic leaders took place at Notre Dame University’s ‘Global Gateway Centre’, Rome, between 22-25 March 2017. John L. Allen Jr. writing for the on-line Catholic magazine CRUX, described it as “An African Moment in Rome”.

Allen admits that the task of explaining what transpired is beyond the limitations of a magazine article.

Delegates in discussion at the African Summit, Rome

“The event,” he writes, “brought together four cardinals, a gaggle of bishops, scores of priests and religious, as well as numerous theologians, laity, activists, students, and other movers and shakers in the Catholic Church in Africa. (To be honest, I found myself wondering who was running things back home, since the entire power structure of the African church seemed to be in Rome.)”

Allen then attempts a fascinating summary of the four day summit which included 46 presentations, 14 discussions periods, “and an avalanche of verbiage”.

“I think,” he writes, “what we saw… was the emergence of what one might call “African Catholicism 2.0.”

“For much of the post-colonial period,” Allen states, “the Church in Africa was consumed with two primary challenges. The first was keeping pace with astronomic rates of growth; and the second was facing the mind-numbing social problems of the continent, such as armed conflict, chronic poverty, environmental degradation, ethnic and tribal conflict, and HIV/AIDS.

“By no means has either challenge receded. However, what emerged from the Rome summit is a sense of growing maturity, a conviction that African Catholicism has passed out of childhood and adolescence into adulthood and is ready to enter a new phase.”

To emphasise this point Allen includes an interview with Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, considered a Vatican heavyweight, who states that the emergence of African prelates as protagonists in the global church, is a consequence of the growth of the African church.

Allen’s ‘summary’ of the Summit my be accessed by clicking here:

You may access Alan’s interview with Nigerian Cardinal Arinze’s here:




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