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Monday, April 7, 2014


Vatican City, 7 April 2014 (VIS) – “The Church in Africa, from Vatican Council II to the Third Millennium. Africa's Homage to Popes John XXIII and John Paul II” is the title of the Congress that will take place at the Pontifical Urbaniana University of Rome from 24 to 25 April and which will be attended by bishops, priests, theologians, scholars and eminent figures in African culture to appraise the implementation of Vatican Council II in the continent.

This initiative was presented in the Holy See Press Office this morning by Bishop Barthelemy Adoukonou, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Archbishop Emergy Kabongo Kanundowi, emeritus of Luebo, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Professor Martin Nkafu, lecturer at the Pontifical Lateran University.

“Vatican Council II, an event of grace for the entire Universal Church, allowed the People of God in Africa to undertake an important turning point in their historical journey. In effect, the Church in Africa wants to become a protagonist in the construction of a cultural identity for the Continent, in a particular way through the Forum of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), 'Faith, Culture and Development'. Fifty years on from the Council, she takes advantage of the canonisation of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II to take stock of the implementation of the Council in the African Continent, reading the signs of the times and taking the necessary initiatives to build her future in line with the Magisterium of the Popes Paul VI, John Paul I, Benedict XVI and Francis”.

The congress will open on 24 with the screening of a video on Popes John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II and the first session will take place, presided by Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, on “Africa and Vatican Council II: an historic perspective”. The introductory presentation will be “Vatican Council II and its implementation in the African Church”. This session will conclude with “Echoes of the work of the Association of African Theologians on Vatican Council II”.

The theme of the second session, to be held in the afternoon and to be presided by Cardinal John Onaiyekan, metropolitan archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, will be “John XXIII, John Paul II and the Church in Africa”. The issues under consideration will be: “John XXIII, the Council and the evolution of post-conciliar Africa”, “What have we made of the legacy of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II?”, and “The legacy of John Paul II”.

On 25 April, the third session will focus on “The Church in Africa 50 years after Vatican Council II: challenges”. Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, metropolitan archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, will preside, and the following issues will be discussed: “The dynamic structure of the two Synods for Africa”, “Prominent Christian figures in the African intelligentsia (Julius Nyerere, etc.) and the political commitment of the lay faithful”, “The place and role of the woman in the Church and in society”, and “Consecrated life in the mission of the Church in Africa today”.

In the afternoon, and presided by Bishop Louis Portella Mbuyu of Kinkala (Republic of Congo) the fourth and final session will take place, dedicated to “History and activity of the forum 'Faith, Culture and Development'”, “The ecclesial subject and historic initiative in Africa today”, and “The Forum 'Faith, Culture and Development': reflection and debate”. The Congress will conclude with a solemn Mass celebrated by Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

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