The African continent: humanity’s spiritual “lung”

The African continent: humanity’s spiritual “lung”

Staff of the Africa Faith Justice Network, along with others

Pope Benedict XVI used these words to describe the great spiritual heritage of African peoples for themselves and all of the world. At the beginning of the twentieth century there were only two million Catholics in Africa. Today, the continent numbers 147 million, with an impressive number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and numerous conversions to Christianity. The first Synod on ‘The Church in Africa and her evangelizing mission’ and the second Synod of the continent on ‘The Church in Africa in service to reconciliation, justice and peace’ dealt in very serious manner and with great commitment with the fundamental questions that worry and torment the whole Church and the African peoples.

The Xaverian Missionaries are working in Africa since the early 1950’s, beginning in Sierra Leone, and moving on to Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, and Mozambique. From the United States, along with our prayerful support of our work in Africa, we also take up the commitment lauded by the second African Synod for reconciliation, justice, and peace through an important organization called the  AFRICA FAITH AND JUSTICE NETWORK. We are organizational members and one of our priests, Fr. Rocco Puopolo, served as Executive Director and  now as board member.

The executive director of AFJN is Fr. Aniedi Okure, OP. The staff includes: Mr. Bahati Jacques, Fr. Barthelemy Bazemo M.Afr., and Mrs. Homan-Smith. The Board of Directors number 17 lay and religious missionaries from around the country. They invite interns to assist them throughout the year.

As Catholics, we are concerned about two fundamental ways in which we live in solidarity with the poor: through charity and justice. Charity attempts bring relief from great hardship, and justice gets at the reasons why that hardship exists and works to mitigate it terrible effects on others. In this way the Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) is a community of advocates for responsible U.S. relations with Africa. AFJN stresses issues of peacebuilding, human rights and social justice that tie directly into Catholic social teaching. AFJN works closely with Catholic missionary congregations and numerous Africa-focused coalitions of all persuasions to advocate for U.S. economic and political policies that will benefit Africa’s poor majority, facilitate an end to armed conflict, establish equitable trade and investment with Africa and promote sustainable development. Download a brief history of AFJN here.

AFJN covers a number of important campaigns and we are all encouraged to join them, as well as to take advantage of the tools they offer that help bring more justice to Africa and allow us as Americans to live out our vocations as global Catholics. These campaigns include, just governance in the face of corruption, land grabbing from the poor, restorative justice, peace and reconciliation in the Central African Republic, among others. These efforts not only include advocacy work in Congress, but also organizing key groups on the ground in various parts of Africa. 
Here are some ways you can get involve: 

3 thoughts on “The African continent: humanity’s spiritual “lung”

  1. Hi- I would like to request prayers for the victims of rape and abuse by members of the Catholic Church. Many of them were children when they were attacked or abused. This is also an ongoing crisis, with new victims each year, worldwide. I will remember them and their stories forever, but for the healing to truly take place, it will take the voices and efforts of many. To paraphrase a poem by an Indian schoolgirl, "Too many Catholics, in too many countries, speak the same language– of silence." Thank you.

  2. Thank you for your prayer of healing for young victims of abuse by Catholic leaders. It is certainly a terrible thing and something we all must prevent by any means. We would like to join you in that prayer.

  3. I received that same anonymous comment on my blog. Though I deleted the comment from the combox I decided to use it as the focus of a well researched (in my humble opinion) article on the abuse crisis that our world (not just any one church) faces. I think you (“Anonymous” or anyone else) will find it to be an open, honest and fair look into the real crisis of sexual abuse in our country.

    In Christ,
    Dave Manthei

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