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Africa – INSeCT’s Research Program

Conferences in Africa, that deal with INSeCT’s Research Program

  1. A conference in Abidjan, March 17-19, 2015; 400 attendees.
    Theme: “Vivre ensemble dans un environnement multiculturel : le denier des universités.” Two papers were devoted to the issue of the role of women in interreligious dialogue.
  2. Symposium in Cotonou, Benin, 26-28 May, 2015; 300 attendees. Theme: “The Role of Women in Society: African Women on Peace-Building, Cultural Dialogue, & Building Democracy.” The President of Benin presented at this Symposium.
  3. A Conference took place in March 15-17, 2016, on the theme: “The Role of Women in Peace-Building and Evangelization”.

Contact person: Gaston Ogui Cossi (gasog2005@yahoo.fr)

Pan-African-Women

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Reports from African Theologians

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Reports from African Theologians


Dr. Nontando Hadebe
St. Augustine College
Johannesburg, South Africa

“Catholic – Theology then and now” reflections from African Perspective.

It may seem presumptuous to make a claim for “African Perspective” given the diversity within the continent but I take this liberty from the development of African theology particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa as justification for this claim of a common theological framework that is Catholic, ecumenical and diverse. The development of African theology took two different trajectories enculturation and liberation. In recent years particularly in the last decade these two streams were integrated as theologians realized that enculturation without transformation of the material conditions of African life was a contradiction of the fundamental holism found in cultural belief systems and similarly liberation without enculturation reduced culture to ‘aesthetic value’ without relevance to material reality of people. Bujo’s comment summarizes the need for the integration as follows: ‘How can a theology done in and for Africa so persistently close its eyes to the immense wretchedness and misery which is all around us? Can a nation develop culturally, while being politically oppressed and economically exploited to such a horrifying degree, while its people, faced with starvation and many other catastrophes is struggling for its very survival’ He too concludes that theology cannot take “such a one-sided interest in culture that is little concerned with the liberation of the People of God from their misery.[1]

This theological development is also connected with revitalization of Catholic Social Teaching and Vatican II. The theology of evangelism has integrated both these aspects as the focus was on the transformation of the whole person, i.e. spiritual and material conditions. Thus the integration of culture with liberation became a central feature of theological discourse. Women theologians in particular continue to bring to the theological discourse experiences of African women that expose oppressive elements in both religion and culture. The participation of Catholic women theologians in the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians, which is both ecumenical and inter-religious has contributed to a gender inclusive liberation theology. The mission of The Circle was defined as: “To undertake research and publish theological literature written by African women with special focus on religion and culture”( www.thecirclecawt.org). The initiative of bringing both women and male theologians reflecting on the impact of Vatican II on the African continent led by Orabator is another example of this development in theology. These are some of the fruits of the integration of cultural and liberation theologies in the past decade.

The future of theology needs to build on these developments and one development that I would like to highlight is the consultative process that is reflected in the initiative by Pope Francis to send questionnaires on family life in order to understand the experiences of Catholics across the world. A theology of the future needs to bridge the gap between the teachings of the church and the concrete experiences of people. In this regard I would like to refer to the slogan of the South African government which says “Batho Pele” which is a Sesotho phrase which means “people first” in others words the prioritizing of the interests of the people as part of the ethos of the government public sector. Batho Pele is also said to mean “We belong, we care, we serve”. www.etu.org.za Some of the principles that are part of Batho Pele that can be integrated into a theology of the future in Africa are consultation, access to information, openness and transparency. The increasing gap between the rich and poor, corruption, misuse of resources, ethnic conflicts, poverty and mismanagement of resources that reduce the lives of the majority to abject poverty constitutes a violation of the dignity of the lives of Africans. The common good therefore requires that their interests be prioritized. This is more than a preferential option for the poor or advocacy on behalf of the poor, a Batho Pele theology requires participation of the poor and accountability to them so that they become part of the theological process that affects their day to day life. Such a theology would be diverse in order to capture the multiple realities of people and yet united to creating a common theology where all interests are given priority. In a context where sexual minorities are criminalized on one hand, the role of theology for the common good is to include their voices in this multi-focal discourse so that no group is excluded. Theology needs to be truly grassroot not just for grassroot. A theology of the future needs to be Batho Pele.

The challenges that represent a threat to Batho Pele theology is the consequences of a profound change in the culture of theology as a discourse among theologians on scripture and tradition. The inclusion of the voices of the people and their diverse claims, challenges is a significant threat to ‘ordered theological’ discourse and training of seminarians. However change as has been noted is always accompanied by risks and these have to be mitigated against on all levels.

  • [1] Bujo, B. 1990. African Christian Morality at the Age of Inculturation p. 125-6 Nairobi:Pauline Publications

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Prof. Gaston Ogui Cossi
Catholic Univ. West Africa
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

La théologie en Afrique occidentale : acquis, menaces et perspectives

L’activité théologique a connu, en Afrique occidentale, ces dix dernières années, un essor et un rayonnement teintés de promesse et d’inquiétude : promesse de fécondité et d’engagement prophétique mais aussi inquiétude d’une main mise institutionnelle sur une production intellectuelle qui se veut pourtant fruit de l’Esprit de liberté.

Dans cette succincte communication, qui prend en compte les acquis et les menaces de la théologie en Afrique de l’Ouest de ces dix dernières années, nous focaliserons notre réflexion sur des options théologiques significatives que sont la théologie de l’inculturation, la théologie du développement et la théologie de l’interculturalité.

1.     La théologie de l’inculturation : ses acquis, ses menaces et ses promesses

S’il est vrai que l’option fondamentale pour l’inculturation fut prise aux premières heures de l’émergence de la théologie en contexte africain et confirmée par le premier Synode des Evêques pour l’Afrique (1994), c’est le 10e anniversaire de ce Synode (2004) qui offrit aux théologiens africains l’opportunité d’un bilan critique de cette réalité qui est désormais une des marques caractéristique de la théologie en Afrique noire et plus spécialement en Afrique occidentale.

De plus en plus, la théologie de l’inculturation a pris la forme d’une théologie anthropologique dans laquelle l’homme est mis au cœur du débat théologique comme objet et sujet de la cogitatio fidei intégrant le discours classique dont seul Dieu était l’Objet et le Sujet.

Cette initiative qui est désormais le fer de lance de la théologie en Afrique occidentale a connu une incidence ecclésiologique très concrète que consacre la terminologie Eglise-Famille de Dieu qui a vu le jour au Burkina Faso et a été assumée par la Conférence Episcopale des Evêques de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (CEREAO-RECOWA).

Toutefois, force est de constater que la théologie de l’inculturation est loin d’être la prunelle de l’œil de tous les évêques de la sous-région ; certains parmi eux demeurent encore réfractaires à cette option théologique tandis que d’autres la combattent purement et simplement. Nous n’en voulons pour preuve de ces menaces à la théologie de l’inculturation que la déclaration du feu Bernardin Cardinal Gantin à la plage de Ouidah (au Bénin) en Avril 2008[1].

En dépit de ces réticences, voire de ces persécutions, dont elle est l’objet, la théologie de l’inculturation continue de s’affirmer comme une des voies possibles de traduire en langage africain la réalité de l’incarnation du Verbe dans la chair qui n’est rien de moins que l’humanisation de Dieu dans une culture pour toutes les cultures.

La théologie du développement qui a vu le jour dans cette décennie semble jouir d’un meilleur accueil au sein de la hiérarchie de l’Eglise qui se veut Famille de Dieu en Afrique.

2.     La théologie du développement ou théologie existentiale

Cette théologie tire sa légitimité des paroles de Jésus en Matthieu : « Donnez-leur vous-mêmes à manger. » (Mt 14, 16). La théologie du développement se veut une théologie qui n’est plus simplement théologie du salut des âmes mais plutôt théologie du salut de l’homme (corps et esprit) dans sa situation sociale, politique et économique. Cette théologie vise à redonner à l’homme africain victime d’une paupérisation anthropologique des raisons de croire et de vivre.

Il s’agit ici d’une conversion épistémologique de la théologie classique en une théologie devenue plus existentiellement et donc plus anthropologique. Celle-ci s’ouvre sur une sotériologie incarnée et prend en compte la dimension historique de l’homme. La théologie du développement n’est rien de moins que cette cogtatio fidei qui débouche logiquement sur une action pastorale visant pareillement à mettre l’homme debout.

Cette théologie trouve sa concrétion dans l’orientation pastorale « Parole et pain pour tous et par tous » qui intègre une vision unitaire du salut de l’homme : la « parole » se rapportant au salut spirituel et le « pain » au salut historique pour l’homme, deux dimensions à tenir ensemble.

Il reste vrai que la théologie selon la méthode ascendante, démarche couramment suivie et qui nécessite une contextualisation anthropologique, expose au risque d’une approche réductrice de la res theologica. La théologie rencontre, en ce sens, une question cruciale qui est celle de la sorcellerie et de l’articulation de la foi chrétienne avec la Religion Traditionnelle Africaine (RTA). Cette question que pose la sorcellerie à la théologie est aussi une question d’ordre épistémologique : que recouvre en vérité ce phénomène ? Serait-elle une science ou plus exactement une super-science ? Comment situer l’imaginaire sorcelleresque par rapport à la question du mal telle qu’elle s’est exprimée dans la révélation vétéro et néotestamentaire ?

Par ailleurs, si la religion est l’âme de la culture comme l’a exprimé le cardinal Joseph Ratzinger dans son discours à Hon Kong, qu’est-ce qui dans la Religion Traditionnelle Africaine en constitue l’âme ? L’effort d’expression de la foi par le biais de la RTA est-il un réel effort d’inculturation ou plutôt le lieu d’un syncrétisme qui ne dit pas son nom ? En d’autres termes, quelle est aujourd’hui la pertinence d’un discours en contexte africain qui n’intègre pas ces questions existentiales auxquelles nos peuples sont continuellement confrontés ?

La théologie du développement pose en dernière analyse la question de sa pertinence avec la théologie dite « universelle ». Autrement dit, comment élaborer cette théologie afin qu’elle libère sa pertinence non seulement pour l’Afrique mais pour l’Eglise universelle ? La contextualisation de la théologie du développement est-elle une fermeture ou a-t-elle un espace d’ouverture sur les autres théologies du monde ? Autant de questions qui ne trouvent de réponse satisfaisante que dans la théologie de l’interculturalité qui semble avoir nos jours, le vent en pourpre.

3.     La théologie de l’interculturalité, nouveau questionnement à la théologie de l’inculturation

S’il est vrai que c’est aussi avec le cardinal Joseph Ratzinger que l’inculturation a connu un tournant décisif dont l’interculturalité est la résultante positive, c’est plutôt la mobilité des symboles culturels qui constitue une des clés herméneutiques de la compréhension de ce concept dans la plupart des pays africains francophones subsahariens. En effet, c’est un fait dans nos traditions socio-culturelles qu’aucun symbole culturel ou religieux n’est exclusivement l’apanage d’une communauté culturelle déterminée. Même si telle ou telle communauté a des raisons de désigner comme sien tel ou tel symbole, celui-ci peut circuler d’un univers à un autre sans poser de problème à personne. Ainsi par exemple, le panthéon vodun des Fon du Bénin est quasiment constitué des mêmes divinités que le panthéon orisha des Yoruba. Même la croix de Jésus a sa place au cœur de ce panthéon.

Ainsi l’option préférentielle pour l’interculturalité, tout en assumant le projet de l’inculturation, devient, en définitive, l’une des meilleures voies du combat pour la vérité qui ne se vit réellement que dans une perpétuelle remise en cause de soi et acceptation des autres dans leur différence. En effet, vue sous cet angle, l’interculturalité émerge comme la dénonciation de la monoculture sous quelque forme que ce soit.

C’est le lieu de se poser, avec Alphonse Ngindu Mushete, une question dont la réponse pourrait être d’une importance capitale pour la théologie de l’interculturalité : « Ne pourrions-nous pas enrichir un peu notre esprit de cette sève épaisse qui circule dans [les veines de ces religions] et en même temps leur apporter les moyens de la vivifier ? »[2] Et un peu plus loin le même auteur suggère : « Le Christianisme doit aborder ce fond traditionnel avec un esprit ouvert, avec la disposition de le changer et d’être changé par lui. »[3] Au-delà donc des manipulations abusives dont elle est souvent l’objet, la mobilité des symboles religieux peut devenir le lieu où les hommes sont appelés à faire l’expérience d’une relation réellement interculturelle transformant les communautés en communion[4].

Pour capitaliser l’apport de la mobilité des symboles culturels dans la théologie de l’interculturalité, il ne suffira pas de prendre au sérieux les symboles culturels mais également le fait religieux épuré des manipulations de toute sorte. C’était bien la conviction d’Oscar Bimwenyi-Kweshi qui préconisait : « Il serait souhaitable que ceux des Africains qui, justement indignés du mauvais usage du religieux dans le drame de leur peuple, loin de chercher le salut de ce dernier dans l’amputation de sa dimension religieuse, prônent le discernement, la vigilance épistémologique et culturelle, afin de mener l’Afrique à l’épanouissement intégral. »[5]

Toutefois, comment développer une telle théologique de l’interculturalité à l’ère de la mondialisation sans se laisser piéger par ce courant idéologique qui n’a pas que des valeurs positives ?

C’est le lieu d’une autre vigilance qui permettra au théologien d’éviter aussi bien le risque d’un enferment mortifère dans le particulier que d’une dilution éthérée dans l’universel.

En somme autant la décennie finissant a été, en Afrique spécialement francophone subsaharienne, le lieu d’une floraison théologique avec des acquis et des menaces certains, autant les dix prochaines années nous semblent porteuses de grandes promesses pour l’activité théologique dans la sous-région. Ainsi tout en luttant, dans le futur (comme dans le passé) contre tout syncrétisme de mauvais aloi, il faudra à la théologie en contexte africain favoriser le dialogue interreligieux, comme lieu privilégié de l’édification d’une vraie foi et d’une paix sincère, profonde et durable. En ce sens, une attention particulière devra être accordée à la Religion Traditionnelle Africaine (RTA), patrimoine commun aux adeptes de toutes religions reconnues en Afrique.

Le relativisme qui a marqué la fin du 20e siècle dans presque tous les domaines du savoir ne manquera certainement pas d’exercer, au 21e siècle, son influence sur la théologie. La survie de la foi en Afrique, comme partout ailleurs, dépendra de la fidélité des théologiens à l’Esprit qui crée toute chose nouvelle tout en préservant de l’erreur.

Gaston Ogui Cossi, Professeur de théologie systématique

Université Catholique de l’Afrique de l’Ouest/ Unité Universitaire d’Abidjan

Délégué de l’Association des Théologiens Catholiques du Bénin.

  • [1] Pour plus d’information sur cette déclaration lire Gaston Ogui, « L’inculturation à l’ère de la nouvelle évangélisation. Comment transformer un défi identitaire en un levier kérygmatique ? » in Revue de l’Université Catholique de l’Afrique de l’Ouest N° 40-41 (2013) p. 31-47.
  • [2] Alphonse Ngindu Mushete,  « L’Inculturation du christianisme comme problème théologique » in Combat pour un christianisme africain. Mélanges en l’honneur du professeur V. Mulago, coll. « Bibliothèque du centre d’études des religions africaines » n° 6, Kinshasa, Faculté de Théologie Catholique, 1981, p. 18.
  • [3] Ibid., p. 19.
  • [4] Cf. Gaston Ogui Cossi, « Appropriation chrétienne du fait religieux en l’homme africain », in Christianisme et humanisme en Afrique. Mélanges en hommage au Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, Paris, Karthala, 2003, p. 120-121.
  • [5] Oscar Bimwenyi-Kweshi, Discours théologique négro-africain. Problèmes des fondements, Thèse de Doctorat en théologie, Louvain 1977, p. 273.

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Sr. Dr. Teresa Okure, SHCJ
Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA)
Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Brief Report on Endeavors of Theological Associations in Africa

This submission gives a little insight into the activities of Catholic Theological Associations in Africa. I believe the Africans who will attend the INSeCT conference in Brazil will do justice to the issue. This submission is in lieu of my participation which cannot take place for logistic reasons.

1.    Association of African Theologians, Associação dos Teologos Africanos, Association des Théologiens Africains (ATA)

The Association which had already existed in the seventies was re-launched in 2009, and held its first General Assembly in 2010. Since 2012 it has evolved a Strategic Plan, a triennial research programme (2012-2015) for publication on the following issues

Dictionary of African Theology; Studies on Women Empowerment & Governance; Journal of African Theology and Miscellanies.

I cite here in full the description of the Association and its programme to date as articulated by the Association:

Our association is a family of researchers in African theology and close disciplines. In this regard, the article 12, 1 §a stipulates that: “The Ordinary Members of the Association have to publish at least once within a two-year period in the publications of the Association”. So, the main aim of ATA is to build a reflection and publication platform which helps us to assume more our mission of research in view of the renewal of the Church and societies in Africa and in the world. In this frame, after the 2010 conference in Nairobi, the Executive Committee of ATA organized two workshops in 2011 (Abidjan) and in 2012 in (Cotonou) in view of launching a triennial research programme (2012-2015). Ordinary members, other members, scholars who applied or not to be members of the ATA are all kindly called to participates in the triennial research programme.

This scientific project is related to

  1. Miscellanies to be offered to His Excellency Mgr Anselme T. Sanon on the theme: “De la Tierce Eglise, ma Mère à l’Eglise-Famille de Dieu: Royaume de Dieu et Fraternité” / “From the Third Church my Mother to the Church as Family of God: Kingdom of God and Brotherhood”, from March to September 2012,
  2. Publication of a Dictionary of African Theology, from 1st January 2013 to 20th May 2014. This research will be done with the cooperation of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) Evangelization Department,
  3. Publications on Women Empowerment and Governance, from 1st November 2014 to 31th December 2015,
  4. Publication of the ATA Journal of African Theology, October 2013, October 2014, October 2015,
  5. Miscellanies in honor of Rev. Profs Charles Nyamiti (Tanzania/Kenya) and Theophilus Okere (Nigeria), 2014/2015.

Source: Executive President REF/NYS.PE.ATA/31.12.2012.02; ATA                                                 Research Programme (2012-2015)

Note: Item no. 1 of the Strategic Plan has already been executed. Item no. 2 is very close to publication, if it has not already been published. Item no. 4 is in progress.

2.    Panafrican Association of Catholic Exegetes/Association Panafricaine des Exegetes Catholiques (PACE/APECA)

This is the oldest extant Catholic theological (specifically biblical) association in Africa. Initiated by Bishop, now Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this Association celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012. Its aim is to do scientific biblical research within the context of the African Continent. Its history and many publications can be found on the web << http://www.apeca-pace.org/english/actvities.html >>. The Presidents of the Association of PACE have always been bishops exegetes, by election, not by Statutes.

3.    Theological Colloquium on Church, Religion and Society in Africa (TCCRSA)

A 3-year Theological Research Project in the Currents of the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II

This is three-year project initiated by Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, SJ. Strictly speaking it is not an Association, but its aims “to create a process” that will generate “new ideas in theological reflection, study and analysis in Africa” within “the currents of the 50th anniversary of Vatican II” are closely related to endeavors by theological Associations in Africa. Since xxx mentioned him as suggesting possible participants from Africa to this conference, I cite further extracts from the description and time-line of the project, though he may attend the conference himself.

Overview

TCCRSA is envisaged as a 3-year theological research project to create and sustain a new and innovative methodology and process of theological reflection and study at the service of the African Church and the World Church. Over a 3-year period (2013-2015), the Colloquium will bring together a community of approximately 50 African catholic scholars doing theology or using Roman Catholic theological/ethical (re)sources in their academic disciplines to identify, analyze, study and envisage a wide variety of issues for the African Church and society. Each year TCCRSA will focus on a broad theme, as follows:

Year 1 (2013): African Theology in the 21st Century: Identity and Profile; Contexts and Models

Year 2 (2014): The Church we Want: Theological Voices from within and outside the

Church at the Service of Ecclesia in Africa

Year 3 (2015): An Agenda for Vatican III: Ideas, Issues and Resources from Africa for the World Church. This third and final Colloquium is scheduled to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of Vatican II (1962-1965)

Methodology

Format and Composition: Each Colloquium will create a forum for conversation and listening, presentation of commissioned papers and responses, and joint working/research sessions among participants. Participants will be drawn from three broad categories: 1. The Theological Academy; 2. Ecclesial Hierarchy; 3. Civil Society/Practitioners

The Colloquium will aim for a Pan-African participation and representation of linguistic composition (French-speaking, Portuguese-speaking and English-speaking); gender composition (women and men), geographical composition (North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa: east, west, central and southern), generational composition (established theologians and young/new scholars) and ecclesiastical composition (lay, religious, clergy, ecclesiastic). It will also include African theologians in the Diaspora.

. . . . .

Put together, over a 3-year period and continuing, TCCRSA will realize the following specific goals and objectives: 1. Create and consolidate a new community of African scholars at the service of Church and society. 2. Critically identify, explore and study emerging ideas and issues in theology in Africa. 3. Generate a new set of materials and resources for theological education in Africa through the 3 published volumes. . . . 4. Initiate and experiment a new way of doing theology that is conversational, cross-disciplinary, collaborative and multi-generational. 5. Create a platform for constructive theological conversation, engagement and interaction between theologians and the hierarchy/leadership of the Roman Catholic Church in Africa and beyond. 6. Build the capacity, reinforce the confidence and enhance the methodological competence of a new/young generation of African theologians.

Source: Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, SJ; Convener and Principal Researcher (numbering format is edited because of space constraints)

4.    National Biblical and Theological Associations

In addition to the above continental Catholic theological and biblical associations or projects, there are many national associations in the different countries. I mention two from my Nigerian context.

  • The Catholic Theological Association of Nigeria (CATHAN); which was launched in 1985 and holds its meetings annually. The Association is open to clergy, religious and laity. Its aims and activities can be found on its website www.cathan.org.ng.
  • The Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria (CABAN). This Association is now in its seventh year. It aims at doing scientific biblical research with the mind of the church as called for in Verbum Domini: The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of Benedict XXVI, on the Synod on the Word of God. CABAN came to birth in the year of this Synod and has as its motto “Alive and active” (Heb 4:12). The story of its birth and identity are published in its maiden publication: Alive and Active: Images of the Word of God in the Bible; edited by Teresa Okure, Luke Ijezie and Camillus Umoh; Acts of CABAN, Vol. 1 (Port Harcourt: CABAN Publications, 2012), “A Reflection on the Birth of CABAN” by Teresa Okure, pp. 173-189.

The Association commits its members to do up to date, life centered scientific biblical research, but in language accessible to non-biblical experts. In addition to the first volume of its Acts, the Association has addressed the following themes: Paul: Embodiment       of the Old and New Testaments (2009; Acts Vol. 2; published 2013); “Good Citizenship and Leadership in the Bible” (Acts Vol. 3, 2010); “Culture and Development in the Bible” (Vol. 4; 2011); “Material Wealth and Divine Blessings in the Bible” (Vol. 5; 2012); and “The Bible on Faith and Evangelization” (Vol. 6; 2013). The theme for 2014 (to be held in       October 21-24) is “The Bible on the Family”. Vols 3-5 (2010-2012) will be published in the         next few months, and that of 2013 before the end of the year.

To conclude: In their research endeavors, biblical and theological associations in Africa take into serious consideration the inevitability of culture in the received texts (the Bible, creeds, dogmas, even Canon law) and their interpretations. This awareness liberates the researchers to listen with new ears, read these texts with new eyes and discern what is truly gospel in the texts and traditions and what in them is from inevitable time-bound culture and thus free to do their own reception of the gospel without being trapped and conditioned by receptions of other people in other cultures. They are encouraged in this approach by Dei Verbum 15 which notes that certain things even in Scripture are culturally conditioned and therefore not universally normative. Our yardstick (canon) and solid ground for doing authentic Christian theology and exegesis is Jesus, God-Word Incarnate (John 1:1-2, 14) “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6); who alone gives ultimate meaning to Scripture and all life-centered theological activities (John 5:39). Vatican Council II likewise emphasizes the inevitability of culture in proclamation and mission (Ad Gentes 22).

Further, we understand theology fundamentally, not as our word about God (“faith seeking understanding through philosophical discourse”) but as God’s word about us, concretized in Jesus, God’s gospel and pure self-gift to humanity, given totally without reserve and without recall in the Eucharist and the Paschal mystery asking only for a response in love; and entrusting to us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18-19). God’s word about us gives light to and controls our word about God. Pope Francis’ invites the Church to walk along these lines in his “programmatic” agenda for the Church in the twenty-first century, Evangelii Gaudium.

Teresa Okure, SHCJ

President, Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria

Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA)

Port Harcourt 500001, Nigeria

Email: tokure@shcj.org

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African

African Catholic Theology: An INSeCT Project

During the last twenty-five years the number of Catholic theologians in Africa has increased dramatically as the general population of Catholics has grown from approximately 39.7 million to 116.6 million (between 1970 and 1998). However, there are limited opportunities for African theologians to disseminate their work among themselves, which is necessary to foster the further development of their own theological voices and traditions. Although there is growing interest worldwide in the scholarly contributions of Catholic theologians from the various regions and academic settings in Africa, their work has not received the public attention it deserves. These problems must be addressed in order to foster communication and collaboration among theologians in Africa and to promote opportunities for theologians around the world, Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox, to learn from their colleagues in Africa, a world of many living cultures and faiths, as they wrestle with various theological, social, and pastoral challenges.

The International Network of Societies of Catholic Theology (INSeCT) is seeking to respond to this situation by establishing a site on its webpage for posting short essays by Catholic theologians from Africa on doctrinal, moral, and practical topics, as well as brief descriptions of approved dissertations by African theologians.

Manuscripts are to be submitted to the president of INSeCT (Dr. Bradford Hinze at bradford.hinze@marquette.edu) who will distribute them to members of the African Catholic Theology editorial board from regional centers in Catholic Theology in Sub-Saharan Africa. Board Members include Elochukwu Uzukwu and Justin Ukpong from Nigeria, Teresia Hinga from Kenya, Stuart Bate from South Africa, Léonard Santedi Kinkupu from Kinshasa, Congo, and John Mary Waliggo from Uganda. Entries will be accepted in English or French and should be 15 to 20 pages long.

INSeCT would also like to identify The New Generation of African Catholic Theologians. We are asking those who have received their doctoral degrees since 1990 to send to the president of INSeCT their name, where they are from in Africa and where they are teaching, the institution where they received their doctoral degrees, the title of their dissertation, and a brief (100 to 200 word) description) of their dissertation. This information will be posted as a part of the African Catholic Theology project.

African Theology

by James C. Okoye, CSSP

African theology, or what some call African Christian theology, is that theology which reflects on the gospel, the Christian tradition, and the total African reality in an African manner and from the perspectives of the African worldview. The total African reality, of course, includes the ongoing changes in the culture. Some prefer to speak of theologies because they see much diversity in African culture and religion; others see a fundamental similarity in the religious experience and in the nature of the emergent issues. Discussion of African theology usually considers the scene in Sub- Saharan Africa, leaving aside the Coptic tradition in Egypt and Ethiopia. Until recently, it was usual to distinguish three currents of this theology: African theology, black theology in South Africa, and liberation theology.

Submitted Papers