The New Evangelization - Africa


The Church in Africa and her evangelizing mission towards the year 2000: 'You shall be my witnesses'


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' (Acts 1:8)".

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 Bishops.

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 reflection process.

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 unfailing assistance.

Jan P. Schotte, C.I.C.M.
General Secretary


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 consider:

I. The Ancient Churches in Egypt and North Africa;

II. The Church in Africa, South of the Sahara, in the 15th and 16th centuries;

III. A New Period of Evangelization.


I. The 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 today?".

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 centuries.

North Africa

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 invasions.

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 following: 

- 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:

- 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.

II The Church in Africa South of the Sahara

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 Island.

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 Africa". 11

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 itself.

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 activity.

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 evangelization.

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 Africa.

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 nationsas 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 salvation".22

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 the Eucharist".27

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 evangelize.

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 effectively".48

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 Christ".50

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 mission.

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 too'".57

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 Christian life.


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

II Inculturation

III. Dialogue

IV. Justice and Peace

V. Means of Social Communications

I. Proclamation of the Good News of Salvation

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.

II. Inculturation

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 proclaimed".59

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.

III. Dialogue

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 Ecumenism".62

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 [1974], 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 Kingdom".67

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 emphasised.

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. 1, 286-287.

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.

8. Ibid.

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 (1957), 232.

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.

38. Ibid.

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.

41. Ibid.

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

(1957), 228.

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 (1989), 453-459.

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, 3.

66. Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 31: AAS 68 (1976), 26.

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 (1976), 35.