Archbishop Hon Tai-Fai on the Church in Africa

hon tai-fai.JPG“Women make up more than 80% of the active members of the Church in Africa. One of the many challenges facing the Church on the continent is how to better integrate them, and their vital role, especially in the process of decision making”, says Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, Secretary General of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelisation Peoples. 

The Archbishop is one of the key note speakers taking part in the 17TH Plenary Assembly of AMECEA, currently underway in Nairobi, Kenya.

AMECEA is an acronym for “Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa” It gathers representatives of the national episcopal conferences of the eight countries of Eastern Africa, namely Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Djibouti and Somalia are affiliate members.

The assembly from June 27 to July 7, 2011, coincides with the body’s golden jubilee and is focusing on the theme: “AMECEA family of God celebrating a golden jubilee of evangelization in solidarity.”

On his first trip to Africa, the Secretary General of Evangelisation, spoke to the head of Vatican Radio’s English for Africa program, Fr Moses Hamungole, about his impression of the Church in Africa: 

“My first impression is one of a great experience of family, the bishops and delegates, their great affection one for another. I am also very much impressed by the Eucharistic celebration here. People really participate, I was amazed and pleased by the songs and way the people animate and celebrate the liturgy. I was also talking to some of the bishops and cardinals and I find that some of the pastors have a very great concern for the people around them. I understand also that there are considerable challenges here, but with their specific kind of optimism they deal with things. Of course I came here to join their celebration for their 50th anniversary and I notice that when bishops are together of one mind and one heart, then they can achieve many things”.

Q: What would you see as the challenges that need to be addressed, from what you have heard during the plenary? 

“From speaking to the bishops, obviously, the major challenges remain the situations of war, instability and also some things that are coming from abroad, I would even go as far as to use the word poisons, like abortion, contrary to African culture, but also emerging here. So these would be the big challenges. But again speaking to the bishops I realise that there are other things too; the stability of the clergy; the need to form better leadership; the participation of the laity; the role of women in the Church. They have to address this issue because women make up more than 80% of active participants in the life of the Church, they need to discuss their role in decision making, how they can be invited or get them involved”. 

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