(CNS photo/Grant Lee Neuenburg, Reuters)

July 20, 2022

Pope Francis prays that the Holy Spirit might inspire the Pan-African Catholic Theological & Pastoral Network, and calls this week’s gathering of theologians, religious men and woman, laypeople and bishops in Nairobi to “discern what God is telling us today” a “sign of hope.”

Coming together to discern what God is telling us today is already a sign of an outgoing African Church, Pope Francis says.

In a video message to the Pan-African Catholic Theological and Pastoral Network published on Tuesday, the Pope praised the encounter, saying it “is a sign of hope that theologians, laity, priests, men and women religious, bishops have taken the initiative to walk together.”

The Holy Father expressed his delight at hearing about the Second Pan-African Catholic Congress on Theology, Society and Pastoral Life being held at the Catholic University of East Africa in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi from 19 to 22 July.

“Coming together to discern what God is telling us today, not only to meet challenging needs with certainty, but also to make African dreams come true – social, cultural, ecological, and ecclesial dreams – is already a sign of an outgoing African Church.”

The Pope told them to continue their efforts.

Impressed by Africans’ faith and resilience

Pope Francis recalled his visits to Africa, and said he has consistently been impressed by “the faith and resilience” of these peoples.

“As I commented during my trip to the Central African Republic in 2015, ‘Africa always surprises us.’ Bring out the best of you in these reflections so that the result will be a surprise, so that that African creation that surprises us all can be born.”

The wisdom of the African ancestors, he stated, “reminds us of this important call that ‘mountains never meet, but people do.'”

The Holy Father invited the Congress’ participants to continue together, accompanying, growing, and helping one another.

“May a wisdom theology, as you propose,” the Pope urged, “be the good news of mercy for the poor and nourish people and communities in their struggle for life, peace, and hope.”

Before giving his blessing, Pope Francis concluded by praying that the Holy Spirit might inspire them and that “paths might emerge from this Congress that the Church needs: paths of missionary, ecological conversion, peace, reconciliation and transformation of the whole world.”

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

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