- SYNOD FOR AFRICA
The Church in Africa and
her evangelizing mission towards the year 2000: 'You shall be my
On 6 January 1989, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, the
Holy Father made the surprise announcement during his
"Angelus" talk to convoke a Special Assembly for Africa of the
Synod of Bishops so as to celebrate the communion and collegiality of
the African Episcopate with Rome and the Universal Church and, thereby,
promote renewed pastoral efforts and activity for the Church in Africa.
In this regard the Holy Father determined that the topic for discussion
at this Special Assembly was to be "The Church in Africa and her
Evangelizing Mission Towards the Year 2000: 'You shall be my witnesses'
On that same day, the Holy Father also nominated various members of
the African episcopate to form a pre-preparatory commission to discuss
initial details related to the celebration of the Synod. With its
preliminary work completed, this commission was expanded in June, 1989
to constitute the Council of the General Secretariat entrusted with the
actual preparation of the Special Assembly. The Council is subdivided
into five commissions, each given the task to address the following
subjects as they relate to the general theme of evangelization:
Proclamation of the Good News of Salvation; Inculturation; Dialogue;
Justice and Peace, and Means of Social Communications.
The following pages contain a simple presentation of the topic based
on the observations and recommendations of the members of the Council of
the General Secretariat of the Synod. As its name suggests the present
document, "Lineamenta" or "outline",
is offered to the episcopal conferences as a tool in this period of
prayer and discussion on the Synod topic in view of the Special
Assembly. The sole purpose in providing this text is to foster a common
reflection on the theme of the Special Assembly for Africa.
Therefore, it is the hope that this "Lineamenta" will
result in many observations and suggestions from every part of the
Church in Africa so that the episcopal conferences can have the
necessary information to draft their official response which they will
submit to the General Secretariat. A rich response will assure that the
Synod Fathers gathered in Special Assembly will have the material needed
for a more in-depth treatment of a topic of great importance for the
Church in Africa.
Consequently, the "Lineamenta" itself is not part of the
agenda of the Special Assembly. A working paper, "Instrumentum
Laboris", will be drawn tip at a later time on the basis of
the official responses coining from the various episcopal conferences on
the African continent and certain offices of the Roman Curia which have
a direct association with the Synod topic. It will be the task of the
episcopal conferences and the diocesan bishops to draw from the many
contributions which they will receive and use them in the preparation of
the official reports of the episcopal conferences which are submitted to
the General Secretariat. Therefore, the whole Church in Africa is
invited to take part: diocesan and religious priests, women and men
religious, lay men and women, seminaries and faculties of theology;
pastoral councils; Catholic movements and groups; parish communities and
all Church organizations. The more numerous the responses, the more
complete and substantial will be the information for the episcopal
conferences in their work of formulating their responses, and
consequently, the more complete and substantial will be the text of the
"Instrumentum Laboris" which will be the center of attention
and discussion at the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of
In preparing a response to the "Lineamenta", the following
points should be borne in mind. The number and variety of questions
listed in the questionnaire section have been deliberately chosen to
serve as a guide in structuring the reflections on the topic of the
Special Assembly for Africa. These questions, then, and not the "Lineamenta"
text, should be the basis of all responses. In this regard, all
observations should make explicit reference to the question addressed.
At the same time, each and every question need not be answered.
Depending on individual circumstances, respondents are free to make a
choice of those questions which seem relevant.
Responses from Church communities and groups within an archdiocese or
diocese are sent to the local bishop who will make use of such
information in drafting his response. The bishop's response is then
forwarded to the episcopal conference of which he is a member. The
submissions from the episcopal conferences should arrive at the General
Secretariat no later than 30 November 1991. This target date should be
kept in mind by all those who wish to contribute in some manner to this
With the publication of the "Lineamenta" a crucial stage in
the preparation for the Special Assembly begins, a stage which relies
upon the cooperation and prayers of every member. The mystery of
communion teaches that the Church extends beyond the confines of a given
nation and continent - even beyond the world as we know it - through
time into eternity. As the Church in Africa prepares for this special
celebration of communion, she does so in mystical union with the whole
Church. In this spirit she is supported in this period of preparation by
the prayers and good works of all the Church's members,
particularly by those of the heavenly community of African Saints
and Martyrs and, as in every endeavour, looks to the Virgin Mary for her
Jan P. Schotte, C.I.C.M.
A Brief Survey of the History of the Catholic Church in Africa
1. Within the last ten years, a number of countries in Sub-Saharan
Africa have been celebrating the centenary of their evangelization.
Certain countries in the same region are presently making preparations
to celebrate their own centenary. Although for many of these
countries, the centenary celebrations reflect the historical reality, it
needs to be recalled that the contemporary evangelization of Africa does
not represent the first effort to Christianize this continent. The
ancient flourishing Churches of North Africa, which produced luminaries
such as Tertullian, Cyprian and Augustine, disappeared completely. The
great flourishing Church of Saints Cyril and Athanasius survived but
considerably weakened, among the Copts of Egypt and Ethiopia. In Nubia
(present-day Sudan), it disappeared completely.
During the 15th and 16th centuries, serious efforts were made to
establish the Church in West Africa, in Zaire, Angola and Mozambique.
Dioceses were even erected, but those Particular Churches eventually
disappeared altogether. A thorough reflection on the theme of the
Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, namely, "The
Church in Africa and her evangelizing Mission Towards the Year 2000:
'You Shall Be My Witnesses' (Acts 1:8)", cannot dispense
with a study of the reasons which could explain the disappearance of the
Churches which existed in North
Africa and in Sub-Saharan Africa before the 17th century, in order to
see what lessons could be learnt from the history of that disappearance.
As a modest contribution to that reflection, a brief survey of the
history of the Catholic Church in Africa is presented here, a survey
obviously limited in its scope and in its aim, since no exhaustive
treatment of the subject could even be attempted here. This brief
conspectus of the history of the Catholic Church in Africa will
I. The Ancient Churches in Egypt and North Africa;
II. The Church in Africa, South of the Sahara, in the 15th and 16th
III. A New Period of Evangelization.
Ancient Churches in Africa
2. Egypt was the only African country in which Christ dwelt
temporarily, and, for all practical purposes, as a refugee! Egypt was
also the first African country to welcome the Gospel. It gave the Church
Athanasius, Clement of Alexandria, Cyril of Alexandria, Origen and a
host of other great figures of the Ancient Church.
Africa occupies an important place in the history of monasticism,
since Egypt was an early site in which monastic life flourished. The
Christian anchoritic life can be dated to the end of the third century
and, thereby, greatly contributed from the beginning to "the
history of a phenomenon of the inner life of the Church which had far
reaching consequences for the Christianity of the succeeding centuries
in East and West and characterizes it in various ways down to the
present".1 Saint Antony of Egypt (c. 251-356), often
referred to as the "Father of Egyptian Monasticism", became
the father of a community of anchorites. But it is Pachomius of Egypt
who must be regarded as the founder of Christian cenobitism, strictly
speaking, as opposed to anchoritism. This he did by founding a community
in which the members accepted a rule composed by Pachomius, and bound
themselves to an ascetical manner of life, in common and the same for
all, under the direction of a superior.
The Early Church in Egypt was so vitally missionary that by the
middle of the fifth century the entire country was completely
christianized. Even the monastic communities contributed a lot to the
primary evangelization of Egypt. Athanasius' missionary interest
extended beyond the frontiers of Egypt, since ca. 350 he ordained
Frumentius, a native of Tyre, for an area which has been universally
identified with Ethiopia and its contemporary capital, Axum.2
It was missionaries from Egypt who christianized Nubia in the sixth
century. One might legitimately raise the question: "Does not this
extraordinary missionary vitality of the ancient Egyptian Church
constitute a stimulating challenge for the Church in Africa
The Church in Egypt became overwhelmingly Monophysite in the fifth
century, and, with it, its daughter Churches in Nubia and Ethiopia. In
640, Alexandria, the gateway to Egypt, fell to the Arab Muslim invasion.
Then, the gradual and inexorable Islamisation of Egypt began. The Coptic
Church survived, but became considerably weakened in the course of the
3. In North Africa the Catholic Church was probably planted in
Carthage no later than the first half of the second century. "As
early as 197 Tertullian (Ad Scap. 56) proudly appealed to the
general Christian penetration of all ranks of society, an indication
that evangelization had begun quite some time before. A striking fact is
that the bishops were remarkably numerous, a condition explained by the
fact that small bishoprics were found in Proconsulare and Numidia; by
411 there were 470 Catholic bishoprics, and the number had grown to
nearly 600 in 430".3
As early as the third century the ascetical life had achieved a
noteworthy expansion within the Church in North Africa, witnessed by the
existence of several monasteries at Carthage by the year 400. With
regards to monastic formation in North Africa, Saint Augustine's role is
considered as decisive. Although he "cannot be called the 'Father'
of African monasticism, nevertheless, to him belongs the credit of
instituting a monasticism which bore the stamp of his spirit and through
its quality was called to become a highly significant element of the
inner life of the Church, first in that of North Africa, then through
its continued operation in all of Western Christianity".4
Without doubt, the Church in North Africa seriously endeavoured to
assume its missionary responsibilities. "The preaching and
correspondence of Saint Augustine afford a glimpse into the missionary
understanding and day to day missionary activity of a North African
bishop in the first decades of the fifth century... Augustine knew that
even ca. 400 there were numerous tribes in Africa to whom the Gospel has
not yet been preached’".5 In some of those tribes
living in the frontier zones of the Roman provinces, evangelization had
already began in Saint Augustine's time, as witnessed by the tribes
living in Arzuges to the south of Byzacena and Numidia. Later on, many
native tribes in Mauritania Caesariensis in the extreme west were
evangelized by the North African Church. However, the missionary
activity of this Church was greatly hampered by the long confrontation
between the Catholic Church and the Donatists, as well as by Vandal
Decline and Disappearance: An Evaluation
4. The decline and total disappearance of this flourishing Church is
a sad fact of history. The Arab Muslim invasion of North Africa, which
began around 643, was completed by the capture of Carthage (698) and
Ceuta (709). The Moslems gradually brought about the extinction of
Christianity, reducing the number of bishoprics to three for all Africa
by the time of Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085). Even these three bishoprics
disappeared entirely by the l3th century.
What are the reasons which could possibly explain this tragic
disappearance of the Church in North Africa?
Among the remote causes, mention could be made of the
- The presence of Donatism in the Church in North Africa reduced
the Church's interior strength considerably. In spite of the Catholic
victory over the Donatists at the meeting held in Carthage in 411,
Donatism never completely disappeared, and was still to be found in
North Africa during the 6th century. A very important lesson that
could be learnt from this sad situation of the Church in North Africa
concerns the crucial importance of promoting, with vigilant and
unflagging solicitude, the intimate bonds of communion among
all the faithful in the Body of Christ which is the Church.
- The Vandal persecution of the Church inflicted upon the latter a
spiritual and moral damage which weakened the Church considerably, a
weakness from which the Church never really recovered.
- It has also been noted that the "North African Church failed
to translate the Bible and the liturgy into Berber and/or the
Phoenician language and making use of elements of the native culture
to create a North African national Church, which would then have
survived the domination of Islam... It seems rather that at the climax
of the Christian mission the Latin provincial culture was eagerly
accepted by the inhabitants together with Christianity" .6
Historically, the Church in North Africa was a Church which used Latin
to the exclusion of all other languages. While Latin later
disappeared completely in North Africa, the Berber language survived.
It is here that one can see a fundamental difference between the North
African Church and the Church in Egypt. In Egypt and Ethiopia the
Christian Faith was very soon expressed (Bible, Liturgy, etc.) in the
Coptic and Ethiopian languages, even the minority ones. If the
Bible and the Liturgy had been translated into the Berber language, it
is quite possible that Christianity would have survived in North
Africa, in spite of Islam, as it did in Egypt and the Middle East.
5. The immediate causes of the decline and disappearance of
the Catholic Church in North Africa would seem to be the following:
II The Church in Africa South of the Sahara
- The Arab-Muslim invasion brought about "a considerable
decline of the Christian population in the years of subjugation, which
was caused by the flight of many Christians to Italy and Gaul as well
as by the death of many inhabitants in the severe battles for the
possession of the cities which were in the majority Christian".7
- Another cause is the pressure exerted upon Christians and pagans
to convert to Islam. In North Africa, following the Arab-Muslim
invasion, "the remainder of the Christians were at first treated
according to the usual practice of the conquerors, that is, the
exercise of their religion was allowed on the payment of a tax and the
renouncing of any propaganda for their faith. But ca. 720 a heavy
pressure began under the Caliph Omar II on the still Christian Berbers
to convert to Islam, and most succumbed to it".8 By a
rapid conversion of the Moors, followed by a gradual process of
attrition, Islam succeeded in weakening the Church in North Africa
which, in turn, lead to its total disappearance.
Evangelization: 15th and 16th Centuries
6. The exploration of the African coast by the Portuguese in the 15th
century was soon accompanied by evangelization.
As early as 1462, Pope Pius II entrusted the evangelization of the
Guinea Coast to the Franciscans led by Alfonso de Bolano. By 1486,
Dominicans and others were active in West Africa, notably among the
Wolof in Senegambia. The Guinea mission depended upon that of Cape Verde
where a bishopric was eventually created in 1553.
At the request of the King of Benin, who had come into contact with
the Portuguese in 1485, the Church was planted in that kingdom. However,
no great results were achieved. The mission in Benin, served only
intermittently from Sao Tome which was made a bishopric in 1534 by Pope
Paul II, simply vegetated. In the Congo (present-day Zaire), systematic
evangelization began in 1490, conducted by Franciscans, Canons Secular
of St. John the Evangelist, and secular priests. From the start, its
success was remarkable. Nzinga was baptized under the name Dom Jodo
(1491). A church was built in his capital, which was named Sao Salvador.
A truly Christian kingdom, closely modeled on that of Portugal, arose on
the left bank of the river. During the reign of King Alfonso
(1506-43) Christianity spread widely. Missionaries arrived regularly
from Portugal; and young Congolese were sent to Portugal for
instruction. Dom Hernique, son of the King, was elected (1518) and
consecrated (1521) bishop of Utica.
He soon returned to the Congo, but died in 1530. Dominicans,
Discalced Carmelites, and Jesuits sent missionaries. Sao Salvador became
an episcopal see in 1597.9
In Angola evangelization began in the second half of the 16th
century. Francis Borgia had undertaken to establish a mission there for
the Society of Jesus. The Angolan mission was not initially as
successful as that in the Congo. It was only established when the
bishops of Sao Salvador took up residence at Loanda in 1626.10
It is to the credit of the early Portuguese missionaries in Zaire and
Angola that they displayed remarkable missionary farsightedness by
setting up a seminary for the formation of indigenous priests.
On the East African Coast, particularly in Mozambique, evangelization
began during the first half of the 16th century. Saint Francis Xavier
stopped over in Mozambique on his way to the East. In 1561 the Emperor
of Monomatapa was baptized, thereby arousing a strong movement towards
the Catholic Church. These hopes were to be destroyed by Muslim intrigue
and influence. By 1591 the mission in Mozambique counted 20,000
Catholics. During the 17th century new evangelizing efforts were again
undertaken in Monomatapa by the Dominicans. A college and a seminary
were erected. However, in the course of the 18th century, decline and
decadence set in among the Christian communities and among the
missionaries, and by the middle of the 19th century, the Portuguese
mission in Eastern Africa was practically extinct.
A very crucial and decisive achievement of Portuguese Catholic
missions in East Africa was the rolling back and weakening of Islam
beyond Mombasa. They succeeded in holding down Islam in the south.
Early missionary work in Madagascar by Portuguese Franciscans and
Dominicans during the 16th century did not enjoy much success. Jesuits
started a mission there in 1613. They were followed by the Discalced
Carmelites (1647), and the Vincentians; (1648), all without
significant impact. Small scale attempts were undertaken intermittently,
but the French Revolution brought an end to all missionary work on the
Possible Reasons for Failure
7. In spite of the heroic evangelizing efforts of the 15th and 16th
centuries, Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa had completely disappeared
by the beginning of the 19th century. Among the many reasons for that
extinction, the following should perhaps be mentioned here.
The missions in Sub-Saharan Africa were entrusted to Portugal which
claimed the privileges of patronage (patroado) earlier granted to
it by the Popes. Insistence by Portugal on its patroado privileges
practically nullified the efforts of the Sacred Congregation de
Propaganda Fide to exercise effective control and to direct
evangelization in those territories. Certain religious. orders also
managed to obtain privileges which enabled them to circumvent or
obstruct Propaganda's missionary policies and approaches.
While insisting on its patronage privileges, which enabled it to
exclude missionaries of other nationalities from Sub-Saharan Africa,
Portugal became increasingly unable to supply enough missionaries for
the region. This even led to prolonged vacancies in the bishoprics in
Africa, which in turn, resulted in the decline and decay of what had
been laboriously built up.
While insisting on its exclusive right to direct evangelization in
Africa, the Portuguese "government itself frequently preferred its
commercial interests to the spreading of the faith. This was invariably
true of Africa, regarded merely as an intermediate stop en route to
India. And so Portugal made absolutely no effort to penetrate beyond a
more or less extensive coastal strip into the interior of the continent.
And even here she possessed mere bases serving and protecting trade. The
names given to the various coastal strips - Pepper Coast, Ivory Coast,
Gold Coast, Slave Coast - indicate what Portugal expected from
The Portuguese Catholic missions thrived only in areas which were
effectively under Portuguese power, and consequently they acquired the
character of ecclesiastical colonies. With the exception of the Italian
Capuchins in the Congo and in Angola the early Portuguese missions did
not face up to the need for a deep and accurate knowledge of the African
languages and that of understanding the customs and mentality of the
people. Inculturation was lacking.
The tropical climate often killed the missionaries within a short
time after their arrival. This is one reason why the mission in the
Kingdoms of Loango and Kakongo (1766-1776) had to be abandoned.
The history of the extinction of the Ancient Churches in North Africa
and the disappearance of the Churches founded in Sub-Saharan Africa in
the 15th and 16th centuries must be seriously considered at this time
when the Church in Africa is reflecting upon her "evangelizing
mission towards the year 2000". For it may be that some of the
causes which explain the extinction of those Churches still subsist in
some form today. Consequently, the Church in Africa should consider
whether there exists today any possibility that history could repeat
III. A New Period of Evangelization
Missionary Roots in the 19th Century
8. Towards the middle of the 19th century the evangelization of
Africa was resumed, thanks to the heroic dedication of many missionary
institutes of men and women. During the 19th century, Spanish and
Portuguese influence had waned and the system of patroado had
weakened and declined, thus leaving room for the Sacred Congregation de
Propaganda Fide to get a firm and untrammelled hold on missionary
policy and strategy in Africa. Today, the Catholic Church is present
everywhere in Africa, the result of barely one century of apostolic
On 31 December 1986 the total population of Africa stood at
571,946,000. At that date the number of Catholics in Africa was
74,988,000, representing 13.11% of the total population of the
continent. Indeed, the sacrifice of countless missionaries has been
richly rewarded. According to the recently published Year Book of the
Catholic Church, the area of the Church's fastest growth, at present, is
Africa where the increase has been 50% in the last 10 years.
When Pope John Paul II spoke to the priests, religious and
seminarians of Zaire at Kinshasa in 1980, i.e., on the occasion of the
centenary of the evangelization of that country, he said, inter
alia: "You have lived a first great stage, an irreversible
stage. A new stage is open to you, a no less exalting one, even
if it necessarily involves new trials, and perhaps temptations of discouragement.
It is the stage of perseverance, that in which it is necessary to pursue
the strengthening of the faith, the conversion, in-depth, of
souls and ways of life, so that they will correspond better and better
to your sublime Christian vocation; not to mention evangelization which
you must yourselves continue in sectors or environments where the Gospel
is still unknown".12
Pope John Paul II has often repeated the same idea of a new stage or
a new period of evangelization, during most of his pastoral
visits to Africa. What is the justification for thus speaking about a new
period or stage of evangelization in Africa? The following factors
may be considered as justifying that expression.
An Historical Update
9. The resumption of the evangelization of Africa in the last century
took place during an era in which most African countries were dependent
territories. The colonial period in Africa has now come to an end. Therefore,
the context in which evangelization has to be carried out is a new one,
that of independent African countries.
During the colonial period, the agents of the evangelization of
Africa were exclusively missionaries from abroad, members of the
various missionary institutes. Today that situation has changed.
Indigenous and expatriate clergy and religious work hand in hand in the
task of evangelizing Africa. On 31 December 1986 there was a total of
481 bishops in Africa of whom 348 were natives of the continent. The
first indigenous African bishop of modern times, Bishop Joseph Kiwanuka
of Masaka, Uganda, was ordained bishop in 1939.
On 31 December 1986 there was a total of 18,353 priests in Africa. Of
these 8,591 were incardinated diocesan priests. At that time a total of
38,579 women religious (temporarily and finally professed) were serving
the Church in Africa.13
Today, the legislation under which the evangelization of Africa is
carried out has been changed in order to take into account new ecclesial
realities and developments.
10. When the evangelization of Africa was resumed in the 19th
century, the Sacred Congregation de Propaganda Fide followed the
practice whereby each newly created mission or circumscription was
entrusted to the, care and jurisdiction of a specific missionary
institute. This was the so-called ius commissionis. In this
century, it was reconfirmed by an Instruction of the same Sacred
Congregation de Propaganda Fide issued on 8 December 1929.14
On 24 February 1969 the Sacred Congregation de Propaganda Fide issued
a new instruction, Relationes in Territories, which is more in
harmony with the new situation in most mission territories, a situation
characterized by the erection of local hierarchies, and of more and more
dioceses entrusted to the secular clergy, etc. The new instruction is
also in keeping with the doctrinal principles brought to light by
Vatican II concerning the role of the diocesan bishop in the Church and
in his diocese.15
The growth of African indigenous vocations to the priesthood and to
the religious life also justifies the notion of a new period of
evangelization in Africa.
In 1988 there was a total of 33,072 students in all the minor
seminaries of Africa. In the same year, all the 105 major seminaries of
Africa had a total of 9,569 students.16
The rise in the number of vocations to the religious life, especially
as regards congregations of women religious, is truly remarkable.
Signs and Reasons for Hopee
11. On the whole the context within which evangelization is pursued
in Africa today is one characterized by relative freedom and liberty of
action for the Church. It is true, of course, that in the wake of
independence and national sovereignty, the Church was confronted, in
certain cases with difficult situations which constituted grave
obstacles for her mission. Fortunately, signs are not lacking which seem
to indicate that some of those difficult situations are gradually
evolving towards a positive change.
It can be said that African Traditional Religion today is open,
generally speaking, to Christianity. It is certainly not aggressive or
militantly hostile to Christianity. Frequently adherents of African
Traditional Religion claim to be Catholics, or Christians, even though
they are not baptized nor even catechumens, thereby indicating their
sympathy towards the Christian Faith. This openness of African
Traditional Religion is a factor favourable for the new stage of
An extremely important new factor in the evangelization of Africa is
the presence of Islam which frequently has recourse to any means for the
attainment of its goals, means which do not exclude the use of economic
and political power. SECAM (Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa
and Madagascar) briefly addressed this situation at its Sixth Plenary
Assembly in these words: "The political implications evident in the
present re-awakening of Islam, the ambition which it does not try to
hide, vis-a-vis countries which up to now were under Christian
influence, make it a duty for SECAM to follow the situation closely,
without deviating from the guidelines clearly set down by the Council.
Because of its overall view of the continent as a whole, SECAM can bring
valuable help to the different episcopal conferences... This assembly
also invited the laity, priests and religious to be better informed on
Islamic affairs, hoping that the example of a Christian life, lived out
in fidelity to Christ the only Saviour, would be our effective response
to the challenge of Islam".17
12. Contemporary Africa is undergoing enormous and rapid changes in
the political, economic, social and cultural spheres. These new
changes necessarily call for new strategies for
evangelization. At its Seventh Plenary Assembly held at Kinshasa in
1984, SECAM addressed some of these issues and their importance for
evangelization in its document: The Church and Human Promotion in
In his Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis John Paul II
calls for new forms of solidarity among nations, forms of solidarity
which affect the lives of the people whom the Church is sent to
evangelize. "The developing countries belonging to one geographical
area, especially those included in the term 'South', can and ought to
set up new regional organizations inspired by criteria of equality,
freedom and participation in the comity of nations—as
is already happening with promising results".18 Africa
is part of the southern hemisphere, an area which will probably contain,
along with Latin America, the majority of Catholics worldwide in the
21st century, a reality new in history, and therefore new for the
Church's evangelizing mission in Africa.
13. Since Africa is only 13.11% Catholic, the urgency of the
evangelization of the continent is manifest. Pius XII emphasized that
urgency when he said that if more apostolic men were sent to assist the
African diocesan clergy, "the standard of the Cross could be moved
forward today, where tomorrow perhaps, after the activities of others
who are not the followers of Christ have already cultivated the field,
there will no longer be any opening for the true faith".19
It is in the light of all these factors that one would seem justified
in speaking about a new stage of the evangelization in Africa. It seems
that there exist on the continent today, what could be considered,
"signs of the times", a tempus acceptabile, dies salutis for
Africa. An "hour of Africa" appears to have come, a favorable
"hour" which calls on Christ's messengers to launch out into
the deep in order to win Africa for Christ.
Meaning and Necessity of Evangelization
14. The first thing that comes to mind in a reflection on the main
theme of the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops would
seem to be the need for a clear answer to the question: What is
evangelization? In an effort to answer that crucial question, it is
probably very useful to keep in mind the following caveat: "Any
partial and fragmentary definition which attempts to render the reality
of evangelization in all its richness, complexity and dynamism, does so
only at the risk of impoverishing it and even of distorting it. It is
impossible to grasp the concept of evangelization unless one tries to
keep in view all its essential elements".20 It is with
this caveat ever in mind that an attempt at answering the question
enunciated above is made here.
I. What is Evangelization?
A Proclamation in Word and Deed
15. It can be said that evangelization consists in "bringing the
Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence
transforming humanity from within and making it new... The purpose of
evangelization is therefore precisely this interior change, and if it
had to be expressed in one sentence, the best way of stating it would be
to say that the Church evangelizes when she seeks to convert, solely
through the divine power of the message she proclaims, both the personal
and collective consciences of people,. the activities in which. they
engage, and the lives and concrete milieux which are theirs".21
evangelization implies a regeneration of man's culture and cultures, in
a vital way, through the power of the Gospel, "affecting and as it
were upsetting... mankind's criteria of judgment, determining values,
points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models
of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of
The text from the Acts of the Apostles: "You shall be my
witnesses" (Acts 1:8), which is included in the theme of the
Special Assembly, must be seen as indicating a constitutive element of
evangelization. As the Second Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of
Bishops remarked, "Evangelization does not regard only the mission
in the common sense of the word, that is, ad gentes. The
evangelization of non-believers in fact presupposes the
self-evangelization of the baptized and also, in a certain sense, of
deacons, priests and bishops. Evangelization takes place through
testimony not only with words, but also with a person's life. We must
not forget that in Greek the word testimony is martyrium".23
Jesus Christ: "The Truth and the Way"
16. The witness of life mentioned above - a witness which is
"already a silent proclamation of the Good News and a very powerful
and effective one"24 - necessarily implies, as an
essential component of evangelization, the explicit proclamation of
the Word. Evangelization has an indispensable need of this explicit
proclamation, That is why Pope Paid VI writes: "Nevertheless this
always remains insufficient, because even the finest witness will prove
ineffective in the long run if it is not explained, justified - what
Peter called always having 'your answer ready for people who ask you the
reason for the hope that you all have' - and made explicit by a clear
and unequivocal proclamation of the Lord Jesus. The Good News proclaimed
by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word
of life. There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the
life, the promises, the Kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth,
the Son of God, are not proclaimed".25
Furthermore, "evangelization will also always contain -
as the foundation, centre and at the same time summit of its dynamism -
a clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who
died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all men, as a gift
of God's grace and mercy. And not an immanent salvation, meeting
material or even spiritual needs, restricted to the framework of
temporal existence and completely identified with temporal desires,
hopes, affairs and struggles, but a salvation which exceeds all these
limits in order to reach fulfilment in a communion with the one and only
divine Absolute: a transcendent and eschatological salvation, which indeed
has its beginning in this life but which is fulfilled in eternity".26
Some Demands and Manifestations
17. Evangelization necessarily implies and demands a vital and
commonly shared acceptance of the message. The Gospel naturally
inaugurates a new living community, and adherence to the message of the
Kingdom reveals itself concretely by a visible entry into the Community
of Believers, i.e., the Church, which is the visible sacrament of
salvation. This adherence to the Church implies acceptance of the
sacraments which manifest and support that same adherence. "In its
totality, evangelization - over and above the preaching of a message -
consists in the implantation of the Church, which does not exist without
the driving force which is the sacramental life culminating in
To sum up the attempt to answer the question, "What is
evangelization?", we could say with Pope Paul VI that
"evangelization, as we have said, is a complex process made up of
varied elements: the renewal of humanity, witness, explicit
proclamation, inner adherence, entry into the community, acceptance of
signs and apostolic initiative. These elements may appear to be
contradictory, indeed mutually exclusive. In fact, they are
complementary and mutually enriching. Each one must always be seen in
relationship to the others".28
II. Dimensions of Evangelization
Dual Missionary Character
18. From the resumption of its evangelization in the middle of the
19th century right up to the Second Vatican Council, Africa was, as it
were, the object of evangelization. With the Second Vatican
Council, Catholics came to realize that the evangelization of Africa
should no longer be seen as an exclusive enterprise of the Western
Churches. According to the teaching of Vatican Council II the young
Churches should become the agents of evangelization.
This renewed understanding of evangelization is a natural consequence
of the ecclesiology of Vatican II. On that basis, the evangelization to
be undertaken by the Church in Africa is not an optional task. On. the
contrary, the Church in Africa has a divine duty and obligation to
The Church's missionary character and the obligations flowing from it
are even more emphasized by Pope Paul VI in his Post-Synodal Apostolic
Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi. "Evangelizing is, in fact,
the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She
exists in order to evangelize...".29 The Church "is
linked to evangelization in her most intimate being".30
"Those who have received the Good News and who have been gathered
by it into the community of salvation can and must communicate and
spread it.31The duty and obligation of the Church in Africa
to evangelize implies both the witness of life32 and the
explicit proclamation of the Gospel.33
Renewed Urgency and Challenge
19. Since there are teeming millions of unevangelized people in
Africa, the Church on the continent is faced with an enormous,
challenging and urgent mission of bringing them the saving message
of Jesus Christ. This urgent mission consists in primary
evangelization, i.e. in the first proclamation "addressed
especially to those who have never heard the Good News of Jesus".34
It is absolutely necessary and urgent for the Church in Africa to engage
in this task because "to reveal Jesus Christ and his Gospel to
those who do not know them has been, ever since the morning of
Pentecost, the fundamental programme which the Church has taken on as
received from her Founder".35
This first proclamation is addressed to the millions of Africans who
are either adherents of African Traditional Religion or Islam. "The
Church respects and esteems these non-Christian religions because they
are the living expression of the soul of vast groups of people... We
wish to point out, above all today, that neither respect and esteem for
these religions nor the complexity of the questions raised, is an
invitation to the Church to withhold from these non-Christians the
proclamation of Jesus Christ. On the contrary the Church holds that
these multitudes have the right to know the riches of the mystery of
Christ - riches in which we believe that the whole of humanity can find,
in unsuspected fullness, everything that it is gropingly searching for
concerning God, man and his destiny, life and death, and truth".36
To the above-mentioned task of primary evangelization (or first
proclamation) must be added an indispensable renewed evangelization
of those already baptised. In Africa "formation in the faith - as
many adults, and especially the intellectuals, admit - remains too often
at an elementary stage, and the sects easily take advantage of this
ignorance".37 This second evangelization is rendered even
more indispensable in Africa on account of new challenges which demand
new approaches. "Evangelization needs to be renewed today, for the
reason that rapid development of the society gives rise to new
challenges similar to what certain ancient Churches experienced,
especially as regards such phenomena as family uprooting, urbanization,
unemployment, all sorts of materialistic seductions, secularization and
an intellectual perturbation accentuated by an avalanche of ideas
insufficiently scrutinised, and by the influence of the media. Therefore
you need to devise, often with limited means, an appropriate pastoral
strategy to face these new kinds of problems".38
III. Continuation of Evangelization
The Obligation to Build
20. In his celebrated and often quoted clarion call to the Church in
Africa to assume and continue the work of evangelization, Paul VI said
at Kampala: "By now, you Africans are missionaries to yourselves.
The Church of Christ is well and truly planted in this blessed soil...
'Missionaries to yourselves', in other words, you Africans must now
continue upon the continent, the building up of the Church".39
At its Fourth Plenary Assembly held in Rome in September 1975, SECAM
took up the challenge of Pope Paul VI, and stressed the urgency of the
mission ad gentes. It is now generally accepted that Africa's
obligation to be missionary unto itself and to evangelize the continent
necessarily implies missionary cooperation between Particular Churches
within each African country and between different African nations. Such
inter-African missionary cooperation has been a "leit-motif"
of many of Pope John Paul II's addresses in the course of his pastoral
visits to Africa.
A Missionary Commitment
21. In order to carry out this missionary cooperation effectively on
an ongoing basis, it becomes necessary to create deep awareness and
profound convictions among African major seminarians, African diocesan
priests and religious concerning missionary commitment as an essential
component of the life and ministry of the diocesan priest. African
diocesan priests should zealously undertake the evangelization of the
non-Christians living within their parishes and,. "when the
occasion presents itself, let them with a willing heart offer themselves
to the bishop for the under-taking of missionary work in distant and
forsaken areas of their own diocese or of other dioceses".40
In the past, it seemed unthinkable, on account of the shortage of
priests, that bishops should supply personnel to go and work elsewhere.
Fortunately that mentality is now being overcome, thanks to the teaching
of Vatican II. "In order that this missionary zeal may flourish
among their native members", the Council says, "it is very
fitting that the young Churches should participate as soon as possible
in the universal missionary work of the Church. Let them send their own
missionaries to proclaim the gospel all over the world, even though they
themselves are suffering from a shortage of clergy. For their communion
with the universal Church reaches a certain measure of perfection when
they themselves take an active part in missionary zeal toward other
nations".41 The practical implementation of this
teaching of the Council concerning the missionary consciousness,
awareness and commitment of diocesan priests has been greatly
facilitated by some new provisions of the Code of Canon Law.42
The same teaching is reaffirmed and emphasized in the Pastoral Guide for
diocesan priests in mission territories recently drawn up and
promulgated by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.43
What has just been said here about diocesan priests equally applies
to members of the regular clergy.
No less important is the raising and active promotion of the missionary
awareness of the religious and the lay faithful in every parish.44
Indeed, - each parish needs an ongoing process of such
"awareness-raising" without which it could easily lose its
missionary vision, drive and commitment, and become content with merely
looking after those already baptised.
Continuing the Missionary Effort
22. While resolutely taking up the challenge of Paul VI - "You
Africans are now missionaries to yourselves" -it must be vigorously
asserted that Africa still stands in great need today of the
collaboration of missionaries coming from abroad, from outside Africa.
At Kampala, Paul VI said that the history of the work of missionaries in
Africa "is a history which still continues, and must continue for a
long time to come, even though you Africans are now assuming its
direction. The help of collaborators coming here from other Churches is
still necessary to you today; cherish that help, honour it, and unite it
wisely with your own pastoral labours".45 Already in
1956, Pius XII warned against those who "might rashly conclude that
once a hierarchy has been established there is no further need for the
work of missionaries" in Africa.46 At its First Plenary
Assembly held in Kampala in 1969 SECAM firmly reiterated the continuing
need for the Church in Africa to receive missionaries from abroad.47
This, of course, was in harmony with the teaching of Vatican II:
"Let individual bishops call to their dioceses the missionaries
whom the Holy See may have on hand for this purpose; or let them receive
such missionaries gladly, and support their undertakings
Consequently it goes without saying that Africa stands in need today,
as yesterday, of missionary institutes which will continue their task to
the Particular Church in a spirit of service and through the enrichment
brought about by their charism, both in cooperation with the local
bishop. For, as Pope Paul VI said, "Their missionary activity
depends clearly on the hierarchy and must be coordinated with the plan
which the latter adopts".49
It has been pointed out elsewhere that Christian monasticism originated
in Africa from where it spread to other parts of the world. Early
African monasticism played a crucial role in the evangelizing mission of
the Church in Egypt and North Africa. In this perspective the Church in
Africa today could perhaps reflect on the role that monastic communities
could and should play in the present and future evangelization of the
continent. As the Second Vatican Council said: "By their prayers,
works of penance, and sufferings, contemplative communities have a very
great importance in the conversion of souls. For it is God who sends
workers into His harvest when He is asked to do so (cf. Mt 9:38), who
opens the minds of non-Christians to hear the Gospel (cf. Acts 16:14),
and who makes the word of salvation fruitful in their hearts (cf. 1 Cor
3:7). In fact, these communities are urged to found houses in mission
areas, as not a few of them have already done. Thus living out their
lives in a manner accommodated to the truly religious traditions of the
people, they can bear splendid witness there among non-Christians to the
majesty and love of God, as well as to man's brotherhood in
Missionary Work Beyond Africa
23. Since each Particular Church in Africa is "fashioned after
the model of the universal Church",51 it follows that
the evangelizing mission of the Church in Africa cannot limit or
restrict itself to the horizons of that continent. Her evangelizing
solicitude and commitment must extend beyond the confines of Africa,
"to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). It is a matter for great
rejoicing that the Church in Africa is developing this dimension of
The Missionary Institute of the Apostles of Jesus, the first of its
kind in Africa, was founded in Uganda in 1968 to proclaim the Gospel to
non-Christians and to conduct pastoral work in needy mission areas. A
women's branch of the same Institute, the evangelizing Sisters of Mary,
was founded in 1977. Missionaries of this Institute have gone forth from
Uganda to evangelize in other African countries.
The "Bene-Tereziya" Sisters of Burundi, founded in 1931,
are acquiring an increasingly African missionary dimension, since they
now work in Chad, Cameroon and Tanzania.
While visiting Nigeria in 1982, Pope John Paul II praised the Church
in that country on account of its priests and religious who are working
in various African countries and in the Caribbean. In 1977 the Church in
Nigeria founded the Missionary Institute of Saint Paul. Some of the
missionaries trained at that Institute are now working in Nigeria,
Cameroon, Liberia and in the United States of America. The Church on the
island of Mauritius has sent priests and sisters to six countries in
Africa, four countries in Europe, three countries in Asia and three
countries in America!
Here mention should be made of the religious orders and missionary
institutes of pontifical or diocesan right which came into Africa from
Europe or elsewhere, and which have contributed enormously to the
evangelization of the continent. Many of these missionary institutes
recruit Africans into their ranks, thus enabling the Church in
Africa to play its part in the work of evangelization both within the
continent and beyond.
IV. Evangelization: A Task for All
24. The evangelizing mission of the Church in Africa is a task
incumbent on each and every one of Christ's faithful in Africa. It is a
duty incumbent on the bishops,52 on the priests,53
on the religious54 and on the lay faithful.55
"Every disciple of Christ has the obligation to do his part in
spreading the faith".56
As regards the lay faithful in particular, the recent Post-Synodal
Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, is a powerful clarion
call to Christ's lay faithful to play an active, conscientious and
responsible role in the Church's evangelizing mission. To each and every
one, especially to the lay faithful, Christ addresses the question:
"Why do you stand here idle all day?" (Mt 20:6). "Since
the work that awaits everyone in the vineyard of the Lord is so great
there is no place for idleness. With even greater urgency the
'householder' repeats his invitation: 'You go into my vineyard
Christ's lay faithful in Africa can and ought to fulfill many of the
urgent tasks of the Church's evangelizing mission, such as, the
inculturation of the Gospel in the life of society, the family, the
economy, school education, etc.
African Catholics who travel abroad as tourists, traders or
businessmen, or who live in foreign countries as students, as immigrants
or as workers, can and should, play a missionary role in some form or
other. They have an obligation to participate in the evangelizing
mission of the Church in Africa through the witness of an authentic
The Tasks That Lie Ahead
25. After having explained the obligation incumbent on the Church to
evangelize, the following question should now be addressed: How will the
Church in Africa undertake "Her Evangelizing Mission Towards the
Year 2000"? How will she lead others to live fully the command:
"You shall be my Witnesses" (Acts 1:8)? What activities,
tasks, initiatives and strategies will she need to employ in order to
carry out Her evangelizing mission as efficiently as possible?
Without any intention of presenting an exhaustive list of the tasks
by which the Church in Africa will carry out Her mission of
evangelization as she prepares to enter the third millennium, the
following tasks seem to be absolutely crucial and deserving of special
attention from the Fathers of the Special Assembly:
I. Proclamation of the Good News of Salvation
IV. Justice and Peace
V. Means of Social Communications
I. Proclamation of the Good News of
26. In the Acts of the Apostles Philip came upon an Ethiopian reading
from the Prophet Isaiah and asked him if he understood the message
contained in his reading. His response was, "How can I, unless
someone guides me?". Philip then proceeded to use the scriptures to
begin his communication of the "Good News of Jesus". In the
end, the man was baptized (cf Acts 8:26-40). This account illustrates
not simply the initial goal of evangelization-salvation but the
necessity that this message be communicated to others. This task
requires a knowledge of the truths of the faith and allowing them to
touch every aspect of life. In this regard the formation of the Church's
members and the building of the bonds of Church communion as well as
fostering a working fellowship with those outside the Church community,
take on a crucial importance in the task of evangelization.
27. In this process the Church in Africa will have to tackle
inculturation as a matter of necessity and urgency in her evangelizing
mission. Inculturation is most intimately and inseparably linked to the
proclamation of the Good News of Salvation. The indispensable part that
inculturation plays in the Church's mission of evangelization has been
clearly enunciated in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, and
in several apostolic exhortations issued after the celebration of the
assemblies of the Synod of Bishops over the last two decades. For
example, the Second Vatican Council's Decree on the Missionary Activity
of the Church Ad Gentes underlined the importance of
inculturation for evangelization when it said: "The seed which is
the Word of God sprouts from the good ground watered by divine dew. From
this ground the seed draws nourishing elements which it transforms and
assimilates into itself. Finally it bears much fruit. Thus, in imitation
of the plan of the Incarnation, the young Churches, rooted in Christ and
built up on the foundation of the apostles, take to themselves in a
wonderful exchange all the riches of the nations which were given to
Christ as an inheritance (cf. Ps 2:8). From the customs and traditions
of their people, from their wisdom and their learning, from their arts
and sciences, these Churches borrow all those things which can
contribute to the glory of their Creator, the revelation of the
Saviour's grace, or the proper arrangement of Christian Life...
Particular traditions, together with the individual patrimony of each
family of nations, can be illumined by the light of the Gospel, and then
be taken up into Catholic unity. Finally, the individual younger
Churches, adorned with their own traditions, will have their own place
in the ecclesiastical communion, without prejudice to the primacy of
Peter's See, which presides over the entire assembly of charity".58
Fifteen years ago, Pope Paul VI strongly emphasised the crucial
importance of inculturation for the Church's evangelizing mission when
he wrote: "The Gospel, and therefore evangelization, are certainly
not identical with culture, and they are independent in regard to all
cultures. Nevertheless, the Kingdom which the Gospel proclaims is lived
by men who are profoundly linked to a culture, and the building up of
the Kingdom cannot avoid borrowing the elements of human culture or
cultures. Though independent of cultures, the Gospel and evangelization
are not necessarily incompatible with them; rather they are capable of
permeating them all without becoming subject to any of them.
The split between the Gospel and culture is without a doubt the drama
of our time, just as it was of other times. Therefore, every effort must
be made to ensure a full evangelization of culture, or more correctly,
of cultures. They have to be regenerated by an encounter with the
Gospel. But this encounter will not take place if the Gospel is not
Whenever he receives the bishops of Africa during their visits ad
limina apostolorum, or during his pastoral visits to Africa, Pope
John Paul II never misses the opportunity of urging them to face up to
the exigencies of inculturation which he sees as an essential and
indispensable task in the Church's evangelizing mission in Africa today.
28. Another important and indispensable task for the Church in Africa
consists in the dialogue which she is called upon to institute and to
foster with those who do not profess the Catholic Faith. "The
Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being
baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not
profess the faith in its entirely or do not preserve unity of communion
with the successor of Peter".60 Further, "those who
have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the
People of God".61
Since the plan of salvation includes all those categories of people,
the Church in Africa must engage in dialogue with them.
As regards the task of entering into dialogue with those who believe
in Christ but do not preserve communion with the Successor of Saint
Peter, the Second Vatican Council gave the following directive in its
Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church: "The ecumenical
spirit too should be nurtured in the neophytes. They should rightly
consider that the brethren who believe in Christ are Christ's disciples,
reborn in baptism, sharers with the People of God in very many riches.
In so far as religious conditions allow, ecumenical activity should be
furthered in such a way that without any appearance of indifference or
of unwarranted intermingling on the one hand, or of unhealthy rivalry on
the other, Catholics can cooperate in a brotherly spirit with their
separated brethren, according to the norms of the Decree on
The same conciliar Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church
demands that candidates for the priesthood should be "duly prepared
for fraternal dialogue with non-Christians".63 In Africa
this task is particularly crucial on account of the presence in the
continent of millions of people who are adherents of African Traditional
Religion. As she engages in dialogue with the adherents of African
Traditional Religion, the Church is convinced that "whatever
goodness or truth is found among them is looked upon by the Church as a
preparation for the Gospel".64
The task of engaging in dialogue with the numerous Muslims in Africa
is unavoidable by the Church in the pursuit of her evangelizing mission.
Concerning that task, the Second Vatican Council said: "Although in
the course of the centuries many quarrels and hostilities have arisen
between Christians and Muslims, this most sacred Synod urges all to
forget the past and to strive sincerely for mutual understanding. On
behalf of all mankind, let them make common cause of safeguarding and
fostering social justice, moral values, peace and freedom".65
IV. Justice and Peace
29. Social concerns have vital links with evangelization. Therefore,
as she pursues her mission of salvation, the Church in Africa cannot
neglect active involvement in the efforts to bring about justice
and peace. The crucial importance of this task for the Church's
evangelizing mission is thus illustrated by Pope Paul VI: "Between
evangelization and human advancement - development and liberation -
there are in fact profound links. These include links of an
anthropological order, because the man who is to be evangelized is not
an abstract being but is subject to social and economic questions. They
also include links in the theological order, since one cannot dissociate
the plan of creation from the plan of redemption. The latter plan
touches the very concrete situations of injustice to be combated and of
justice to be restored. They include links of the eminently evangelical
order, which is that of charity: how in fact can one proclaim the new
commandment without promoting in justice and peace the true advancement
of man? We ourself have taken care to point this out, by recalling that
it is impossible to accept that in evangelization one could or
should ignore the importance of the problems so much discussed today,
concerning justice, liberation, development and peace in the world. This
would be to forget the lesson which comes to us from the Gospel
concerning love of our neighbour who is suffering and in need (AAS
61 , 562)".66
V. Means of Social Communications
30. Because the Church is basically concerned with communicating
truth and life to the world, it follows that one of the very important
tasks to be undertaken by the Church in Africa is that of the use of the
media of social communications in her mission of evangelization. The
Second Vatican Council's Decree on the Instruments of Social
Communications, which marked the first time that a General Council
addressed itself to such an issue, noted that these media "can
contribute generously... to the spread and strengthening of God's own
Ten years after the end of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI
strongly emphasised the importance of the utilization of the media of
social communications in the Church's mission of evangelization.
"Our century is characterised by the mass media or means of social
communications, and the first proclamation, catechesis or the further
deepening of faith cannot do without these means, as we have already
When they are put at the service of the Gospel, they are capable of
increasing almost indefinitely the area in which the Word of God is
heard; they enable the Good News to reach millions of people. The Church
would feel guilty before the Lord if she did not utilize these powerful
means that human skill is daily rendering more perfect. It is through
them that she proclaims 'from the housetops' the message of which she is
the depositary. In them she finds a modern and effective version of the
pulpit. Thanks to them she succeeds in speaking to the multitudes".68
The Pope could scarcely be clearer than this in setting before the
Church her obligatory task of utilizing the media of social
communications for her mission of evangelization.
1. Cf. Jedin, H. and Dolan, J., Eds., History of the Church (London:
Bums & Oates, 1980), Vol. II, 337.
2. Ibid., 183; Cf. also Danielou, J., and Marrou, H., The
Christian Centuries (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1978), Vol.
3. "The Early Church in North Africa", New Catholic
Encyclopedia (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1986) Vol. 10, 502.
4. Jedin and Dolan, op. cit., 387.
5. Ibid., 206.
6. Ibid., 206-207.
7. Ibid., 613.
9. Cf. "Africa", New Catholic Encyclopedia, op. cit.,
Vol. 1, 173.
10. Cf. Jedin and Dolan, op. cit., 594.
11. Ibid., 591.
12. John Paul II, "Address to Priests, Religious and to
Seminarians during Official Welcoming Ceremonies in the Cathedral of
Notre Dame du Zaire"', (3 May 1980), L'Osservatore Romano:
Weekly Edition in English, 12 May 1980, 1.
13. Cf. Annuarium Statisticurn Ecclesiae (Vatican City:
Vatican Polyglot Press, 1986), 72, 74 and 83.
14. Cf. AAS 22 (1930), 111-115.
15. Cf. Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, De
relationibus in territoriis missionum inter Ordinarios locorurn et
Instituta missionalia: AAS 61 (1969), 281-287.
16. Cf. Omnis Terra, Pontifical Missionary Union (Rome),
English Edition, n. 200, July-August 1989, 400-401.
17. Sixth Plenary Assembly of SECAM, Yaounde, 1981, in The Voice of
SECAM, Accra (1987), 133.
18. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 45:
AAS 80 (1988), 577-578.
19. Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Fidei Donum (on the Present
Condition of the Missions, especially in Africa), 25: AAS 49
20. Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 17: AAS
68 (1976), 17.
21. Ibid., 18: AAS 68 (1976), 17-18.
22. Ibid., 19: AAS 68 (1976), 18.
23. Second Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (1985), Ecclesia
Sub Verbo Dei Mysteria Christi Celebrans pro Salute Mundi. Relatio
Finalis, II, B, 2.
24. Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 21: AAS
68 (1976), 19.
25. Ibid., 22: AAS 68 (1976), 20.
26. Ibid., 27. AAS 68 (1976), 24.
27. Ibid., 28: AAS 68 (1976), 25; Cf. Second Vatican
Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church Ad
Gentes, 6, 15.
28. Ibid., 24: AAS 68 (1976), 22.
29. Ibid., 14: AAS 68 (1976), 13.
30. Ibid., 15: AAS 68 (1976), 13.
31. Ibid., 13: AAS 68 (1976), 12.
32. Cf. Ibid., 21: AAS 68 (1976), 19.
33. Cf. Ibid., 22: AAS 68 (1976), 20; Cf. Second Vatican
Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church Ad
Gentes, Chapter III.
34. Ibid., 52: AAS 68 (1976), 40.
35. Ibid., 51: AAS 68 (1976), 40.
36. Ibid., 53: AAS 68 (1976), 42.
37. John Paul II, "Address to the Episcopal Conference of
Cameroon" (13 August 1985), L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition
in English, 9 September 1985, 4.
39. Paul VI, "Address to SECAM at Kampala" (31 September
1969): AAS 61 (1969), 575.
40. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Missionary
Activity of the Church Ad Gentes, 20.
42. Cf. Code of Canon Law: Can. 271, para. 1 and 2 and Can. 784
43. Cf. Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Pastoral
Guide for Diocesan Priests in Churches Dependent on the Congregation for
the Evangelization of Peoples (Rome: 1989), 4.
44. Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Missionary
Activity of the Church Ad Gentes, 39, 40,41.
45. Paul VI, "Address to SECAM at Kampala" (31 July 1969): AAS
61 (1969), 575.
46. Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Fidei Donum, 11: AAS 49
47. Cf. Doc. Cath. 1548 (1969), 858-867.
48. Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Decree on the Missionary
Activity of the Church Ad Gentes, 20.
49. Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 68: AAS
68 (1976), 59.
50. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Missionary
Activity of the Church Ad Gentes, 40.
51. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the
Church Lumen Gentium, 23.
52. Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Missionary
Activity of the Church Ad Gentes, 38.
53. Cf. Ibid., 39.
54. Cf. Ibid., 40.
55. Cf. Ibid., 41.
56. Ibid., 23.
57. John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles
Laici, 3: AAS 81 (1989), 398; Cf. Ibid., 33-35: AAS 81
58. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Missionary
Activity of the Church Ad Gentes, 22.
59 Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 20: AAS
68 (1976), 18-19.
60. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the
Church Lumen Gentium, 15.
61. Ibid., 16.
62. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Missionary
Activity of the Church Ad Gentes, 15.
63. Ibid., 16.
64. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the
Church Lumen Gentium, 16.
65. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Declaration on the
Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions Nostra Aetate,
66. Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 31: AAS 68
67. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Instruments of
Social Communication Inter Mirifica, 2.
68. Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 45: AAS 68