The African challenges to the Church

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The African challenges to the Church

By Fr. Rif'at Bader/ editor-in-chief of abouna.org

According to Pew Research Center, 38 per cent of the world Christians and 28 per cent of the world Muslims will be living in Africa with the advent of the year 2050. Consequently, the major challenge lying ahead will be promoting a climate of peace and cooperation among the followers of religions, especially between Christians and Muslims which will have a deep impact on spreading peace at a global level.

Amidst the prevailing thorny climatic and socio-economic challenges, the Pope Francis’ plane touched down for the first time in the African continent. He came to utter a few words, among which are, “no to corruption, no to discrimination, no to inequality, no to violence, and no to pollution." He knows, while on his way to the three countries, that pollution transcends the environment, or the common house, as it caused in the first place mental disarray which made some terrorist organizations “take the lives’’ of
innocent young people from places of worship, from schools, and from universities.

Nevertheless, there is a challenge within the Church itself. I mean the Catholic Church that wants to disseminate the Christian ethics, particularly in the fields of health, medical treatment, marriage, abortion and contraceptive methods, up to the challenges of gay marriage. For example, when the US president of Kenyan origin visited Kenya, he stressed that the rights gays are to be respected. The Kenyan president, at the time, strongly approved of the US demand. Yet, he today welcomed Pope Francis at a time when there are in his country 800 Catholic schools, and at time when he had received his education at one of these schools. Had it not been better for him to respect the Catholic ethics which he learned since childhood? It is definitely the moral challenge that the Pope faces, as he calls for maintaining fairness and social justice as the crux of Christian ethics.

Another challenge, being confronted is the Christian unity. It is represented in the diversity of Churches, rites and "sects". But for the Pope of “openness” and the Pope of all people, this does not constitute a major challenge as he deals with everyone regardless of religious or ideological affiliation. He never feels embarrassed to deal with a Nigerian whose country borders the second largest country in terms of Protestant population. What is important for the Pope is to have humans maintaining their humanity in dealing with their fellow brethren and in fully respecting their intellectual and ideological affiliations. From this premise, we notice the Pope’s humble care for the poor despite the prevailing dire conditions, where terrorism does not differentiate between the poor and the rich. The Pope urges abstaining from discrimination, and calls for resorting to justice in dealing with the motley African society, while giving special attention to the poor.

Pope Francis walks in the footsteps of Lord Jesus Christ and in the footsteps of St. Francis, who visited Africa in 1219 and met in the Egyptian city of Domyat with the Fatimid sultan "Al-Kamil Al-Ayoubi, the eldest brother of Salahuddin Ayyubi" who ruled the Holy Land at the time. He conducted an enlightened dialogue with him that preceded the 21 century dialogues by a thousand years. During the current papal visits, Pope Francis will renew this commitment to openness on permanent bases, as the Church proceeds in close cooperation with children of other religions, and continues to provide humanitarian, spiritual and cultural assistance.

Sat, 12/05/2015 - 14:14
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