THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN AFRICA: INTEGRAL EVANGELIZATION
Africa as a Family
Africa sees itself as the family of those who believe in God through Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. As such, it is part of the worldwide Catholic Church and at the same time offers a very particular Catholic presence to the people of that continent, who have their own special history and vast range of cultures. The African Church has been marked by a dynamic interaction between the Catholic faith and local lived reality. The result is that the Church has affected almost every aspect of African social life.
The Church in Africa as Purveyor of Healthcare and Education
Since the earliest days of Catholic outreach in Africa, missions have served not only as sites for worship, but also as centers for healthcare education. Dispensaries,clinics and hospitals address a variety of health needs such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, or childbirth. The same can be said for daycare centers, primary and secondary schools, and the growing Catholic university network. The media is another channel of education through which the Church contributes to Africa’s development, operating community radio stations, video production centers and even some local television channels.
The Church in Africa as a Voice for Justice and Peace
Individual Catholics and a variety of Catholic movements and organizations have helped build a vibrant civil society in countries around the continent. In many instances Church leaders and volunteers have been instrumental in providing civic education (for example, helping to prepare for elections in South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo). Similarly the Church at all levels has stepped up to meet the challenges of conflict resolution and peacebuilding in situations of strife and violence (e.g., Mozambique, Burundi and Sudan). Among other efforts made by the Church in Africa are initiatives for addressing the consequences of globalization. It is evident to all that Africa’s vast natural resources have not benefited the majority of its people. Today African Catholics are calling for economic justice, including monitoring corporate social responsibility, promoting the dignity of work, and respecting workers’ rights to fair wages and to a healthy work environment.
The Church in Africa as a Place of Collaboration and Co-Responsibility
What characterizes all of these efforts is that they are usually taken in concert – that is, the clergy and the laity work together as witnesses of their Catholic faith. In fact,developing and emphasizing the role of the laity has allowed the Church to play a critical part in the history and progress of the peoples of Africa. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the remarkable service offered by catechists, lay men and women, who give of themselves to announce the Gospel through religious instructions, personal commitment and dedicated community service.
-- Fr. Bill Dyer and George Kombe Ngolwe