The Info List - African Pope

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The Catholic Church
Catholic Church
in Africa
refers to parts of the Catholic Church in the various countries in the continent of Africa. Christian activity in Africa
began in the 1st century
1st century
when the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Egypt
was formed as one of the four original Patriarchs of the East (the others being Constantinople, Antioch, and Jerusalem). However, the Islamic conquest
Islamic conquest
in the 7th century resulted in a harsh decline for Christianity in northern Africa. Yet, at least outside the Islamic majority parts of northern Africa, the presence of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church
has recovered and grown in the modern era in Africa
as a whole. Catholic Church
Catholic Church
membership rose from 2 million in 1900 to 140 million in 2000.[1] In 2005, the Catholic Church in Africa, including Eastern Catholic Churches, embraced approximately 135 million of the 809 million people in Africa. In 2009, when Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
visited Africa, it was estimated at 158 million.[2] Most belong to the Latin Church, but there are also millions of members of the Eastern Catholic Churches. By 2025, one-sixth (230 million) of the world's Catholics are expected to be Africans.[3][4] The world's largest seminary is in Nigeria, which borders on Cameroon in western Africa, and Africa
produces a large percentage of the world's priests. There are also 16 Cardinals from Africa, out of 192, and 400,000 catechists. Cardinal Peter Turkson, formerly Archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, is Africa's youngest Cardinal at 64 years old,[2][5] and was also one of several prelates from Africa
estimated as papabile for the Papacy
in the last papal conclave of 2013.


1 History

1.1 Ancient era 1.2 Islamic conquest 1.3 Modern era

2 Eastern Catholic Churches 3 Catholic Monarchs 4 Modern African papabili 5 Issues

5.1 Islamist persecution 5.2 Celibacy

6 See also 7 References

History[edit] Ancient era[edit] Many important members of the early Church were from Africa, including Mark the Evangelist, Origen, Tertullian, Saint Augustine of Hippo (from Hippo Regius
Hippo Regius
in what is now Annaba, Algeria[6]) and Clement of Alexandria. Churches in eastern North Africa, such as those in Egypt and Ethiopia, tended to align with the practice of the Eastern Church, but those to the West (the area now known as the Maghreb) were connected to the Roman Church. Three early popes were from the Roman Africa
Province. These were Pope Victor I
Pope Victor I
(reigned c . 189 to 199), Pope
Miltiades (reigned 311 to 314) and Pope
Gelasius I (492 to 496) and all of them were Christian Berbers. Islamic conquest[edit] The conventional historical view is that the conquest of North Africa by the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate
Umayyad Caliphate
between AD 647–709 effectively ended Catholicism in Africa
for several centuries. A prevailing view is that the Catholic Church
Catholic Church
at that time lacked the backbone of a monastic tradition and was still suffering from the aftermath of heresies including the so-called Donatist heresy, and this contributed to the earlier obliteration of the church in the present day Maghreb. Some historians contrast this with the strong monastic tradition in the Coptic Church
Coptic Church
of Egypt, which is credited as a factor that allowed Coptic Church
Coptic Church
to remain the majority faith in that country until around after the 14th century. However, new scholarship has appeared that disputes this. There are reports that the Catholic faith persisted in the region from Tripolitania
(present-day western Libya) to present-day Morocco
for several centuries after the completion of the Islamic conquest
Islamic conquest
by 700 A.D.[7] There are currently archaeological excavations in western Libya
that are focused on the remains of Christian churches dated from the 10th century. There is also evidence of religious pilgrimages after 850 A.D. to tombs of Catholic saints outside the city of Carthage, and evidence of religious contacts with Christians of Islamic Spain. In addition, calendar reforms adopted in Europe at this time were disseminated amongst the indigenous Christians of Tunis, which would have not been possible had there been an absence of contact with the Holy See
Holy See
in Rome. Jonathan Conant (Staying Roman, Conquest and Identity in Africa
and the Mediterranean, 439-700, Cambridge, 2012, pp. 362–370) reviews the evidence. He states that Islam
did not become the majority in Tunisia until quite late in the 9th century and the "vast majority until some time in the tenth," (pp. 363–64). Christians tended to live in towns and cities and often spoke African Latin, "al-Latini al-Afriqi", until "at least the 12th century" (ibid. p. 363). By 1076 there were only two bishops left in Africa. Pope
Gregory had to appoint a third in order to bring up the number to three to consecrate a new Bishop of Hippo Regius. The decline of Christianity was hastened in part by the destruction wrote by the invasion of the Banu Hilal, sent by the Fatimids
in Cairo
to punish the Zaid Sunni Islamic
Sunni Islamic
emirs. This resulted in the arabization of Tunisia up till then Berber and Latin speaking. In 1159-1160 many of the remaining Christians were evacuated by the Normans
to Sicily. It does look like local Catholicism came under enormous pressure around the time that the Muslim fundamentalist regimes of the Almohads and Almoravids
came into power, and the record shows demands made of the local Christians of Tunis
to convert to Islam. We still have reports of Christian inhabitants and a bishop in the city of Kairoun around 1150 A.D. - a significant report, since this city of founded by Arab muslims
Arab muslims
around 680 A.D. as their administrative center after their conquest. A letter in the Catholic Church
Catholic Church
archives from the 14th century shows that there were still four bishoprics left in North Africa, admittedly a sharp decline from the over four hundred bishoprics in existence at the time of the Islamic conquest. Modern era[edit]

A Catholic church building in Lagos, Nigeria
around 1917.

By 1830, when the French came as colonial conquerors to Algeria
and Tunis, local Catholicism had been extinguished. The growth of Catholicism in the region after the French conquest was built on European colonizers and settlers, and these immigrants and most of their descendants left when the countries of the region became independent. Eastern Catholic Churches[edit] The Latin Church
Latin Church
remains the largest throughout the continent. However, in eastern Africa, there has been an emergence of Alexandrian Rite Eastern Catholic Churches: the Coptic Catholic Church, the Ethiopian Catholic Church, and the Eritrean Catholic Church
Catholic Church
(2015). Catholic Monarchs[edit] Despite with prevalent republican governments in contemporary time, Africa
has a tradition of Catholic monarchs, such as in the kingdoms of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. Modern African papabili[edit]

Cathedral of Our Lady of Victories in Dakar.

In 1920 Hilaire Belloc
Hilaire Belloc
had proclaimed, "The Church is Europe, and Europe is the Church." However, according to Philip Jenkins, the 20th century saw major changes for the Catholic Church. By 1960, the College of Cardinals
College of Cardinals
had its first African, Laurean Rugambwa. By deliberate policy, John Paul II
John Paul II
selected many Cardinals from Third World nations, and by 2001 they made up over 40 percent of the body.[8] In 2002, Italian Cardinals made up just 15 percent of the College, a drop from 60 percent in the 1950s.[9] Jenkins saw the conservatism of Pope
John Paul II
John Paul II
as particularly attractive to Catholics in developing nations and likely to be a dominant force in Catholic politics for some time.[8] Francis Arinze, a Nigerian Cardinal and adviser to Pope
John Paul II, was considered papabile before the 2005 papal conclave, which elected Benedict XVI.[10] As Arinze was considered theologically conservative, Jenkins suggests he would have brought African "notions of authority and charisma" to the office, rather than democracy.[8] Jenkins states, "The prospect of a Black African pope understandably excites Christians of all political persuasions."[8] Even Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, three years before his own selection as Pope, labeled the prospect of an African pope as "entirely plausible" and a "wonderful sign for all Christianity."[9] According to Financial Times, an African such as Arinze would "boost the popularity" of the church, which is facing strong competition in Africa
from Pentecostal, Baptist, and Evangelical denominations.[11] The Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph
has said that an "African papacy is the logical outcome" given that the majority of Catholics now live in the developing world, and in particular, the Catholic Church
Catholic Church
in Africa
"has grown by 20 times since 1980."[9] In the papal conclave of 2013, Cardinal Peter Turkson
Cardinal Peter Turkson
of Ghana
was called "the most likely" candidate from Africa
and was considered the favorite to win the papacy before the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio in 2013.[12] Issues[edit] Islamist persecution[edit] Persecution of Christians
Persecution of Christians
by Islamists, such as Boko Haram
Boko Haram
in Nigeria, remains one of the hardest issues to solve for the Catholic Church
Catholic Church
in Africa. Celibacy[edit] Although Catholic priestly vow of celibacy is a general challenge for all priests in the Catholic Church, for instance because of cultural expectations for a man to have a family, Africa
presents particular problems in the subject. Early in the 21st century, as celibacy continued to come under question, Africa
was cited as a region where the violation of celibacy is particularly rampant. Priests on the continent were accused of taking wives and concubines. Isolation of priests working in rural Africa, and the low status of women, is said to add to the temptation. A breakaway sect of married previously Catholic priests in Uganda, called the Catholic Apostolic National Church, formed in 2010 following the excommunication of a married priest by Pope
Benedict XVI.[13] See also[edit]

List of African popes List of saints from Africa Roman Catholicism in Asia Roman Catholicism in North America Roman Catholicism in South America Roman Catholicism in Australia Roman Catholicism in Europe List of Catholic dioceses in Guinea-Bissau


^ The Catholic Explosion, Zenit News Agency, 11 November 2011 ^ a b Rachel Donadio, "On Africa
Trip, Pope
Will Find Place Where Church Is Surging Amid Travail," New York Times, 16 March 2009. ^ David Barrett, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 30, No 1, January 2006, 29. ^ Donadio, Rachel (2009-03-15). "On Africa
Trip, Pope
Will Find Place Where Church Is Surging Amid Travail". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-19.  ^ "Synod to Address Ethnic and Religious Divisions," America, 12 October 2009. ^ "Bona, Algeria". World Digital Library. 1899. Retrieved 2013-09-25.  ^ Last autochthonous Christians in the Maghreb
(in French) ^ a b c d Philip Jenkins (2002). The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-514616-6.  ^ a b c Bruce Johnston (April 5, 2002). "King-maker cardinal hints at possibility of African pope". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2008-04-20.  ^ Carroll, Rory. 2003, October 3. "The Guardian Profile: Francis Cardinal Arinze." The Guardian. ^ Andrew England (April 4, 2005). "Kenyans pledge to carry on papal projects". Financial Times. Retrieved 2008-04-20.  ^ Greg Watts (November 2, 2007). "A mission to speak out of Africa". The Times. Retrieved 2008-04-20.  ^ Lisa Miller (April 7, 2010). "The trouble with celibacy". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-04-09. 

v t e

Catholic Church
Catholic Church
in Africa

Sovereign states

Algeria Angola Benin Botswana Burkina Faso Burundi Cameroon Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) Central African Republic Chad Comoros Democratic Republic of the Congo Republic of the Congo Djibouti Egypt Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Ethiopia Gabon The Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) Kenya Lesotho Liberia Libya Madagascar Malawi Mali Mauritania Mauritius Morocco Mozambique Namibia Niger Nigeria Rwanda São Tomé and Príncipe Senegal Seychelles Sierra Leone Somalia South Africa South Sudan Sudan Swaziland Tanzania Togo Tunisia Uganda Zambia Zimbabwe

States with limited recognition

Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic Somaliland

Dependencies and other territories

Canary Islands / Ceuta / Melilla  (Spain) Madeira (Portugal) Mayotte / Réunion (France) Saint Helena / Ascension Island / Tristan da Cunha (United Kingd