In DepthThe QuestionDebate: Should the Vatican be moved to Africa?


Posted on Thursday, 28 March 2013 11:37

Debate: Should the Vatican be moved to Africa?

By The Africa Report

Home to the fastest-growing Catholic population on the planet, Africa is a source of strength for the religion across the globe. Some suggest that the continent could play a greater role.


altYes I think that it is an advanced and very progressive idea. The Vatican is placed in a continent where Christianity is in decline, and in Africa Christianity is indeed growing. It would be an interesting move for the power of the church to be aligned with the continent that Pope Benedict said is "the continent of hope", and a chance to signify the fact that, as we all say from the Vatican, there is no culture that is privileged as far at the gospel is concerned. Every culture is fertile ground and the seed of the gospel can be planted and bear fruit, particularly in cultures that have been played down by our own prejudice. It could be a sign of confidence and trust in the African church, which is growing and has the enthusiasm that we no longer have and a sign of solidarity with them. We are still inheriting the monarchic model of authority from the Middle Ages. If there is a move to Africa, it should not be a move of this model of authority, that would be pointless. As it is now, it is centred in the hands of one person, the Pope. There should be a move from an autocratic way of exercising authority to a collegial way. It is a legacy of the past and not inspired by the values of the gospels. ●
Efrem Tresoldi, Priest at Comboni missionary and editor of Nigrizia, an African Catholic magazine



altNo The fact that the Vatican is based is Rome results from the history of Christianity, and it is symbolic. This is where Saint Peter's tomb is based. It can't be brushed aside, especially as this symbol means a lot in the African culture. The respect of ancestors is part of our culture. When an ancestor dies, where he rests becomes a sacred place. St Peter is the ancestor of the church. It is normal that for meetings we get together where he is buried. For sure, the dynamics of Christianity are very different in Europe and in Africa at the moment. While the number of worshippers is growing in Africa, it is declining in Europe. But it is maybe just an historic contingency, and no one can say the trend will be the same in the future. We can't change everything because of a situation that may be temporary. Beyond geographical distances, the church is one body, which means the vitality of Christianity in Africa is the vitality of the church as a whole. We need to move on from unnecessary discussions like whether the Pope should be African and pray that God gives the church the Pope it needs, no matter where he comes from and the colour of his skin. ●
Alexi Youlo, Bishop of Agboville, Côte d'Ivoire

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