By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tAfrican Catholicism’s explosive growth and vitality are real, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana said this morning during the opening session of the second Synod for Africa, but also in a sense deceptive.
t Turkson, the relator, or general secretary, of the synod, pointed to four specific challenges:
•tThe fact that the church “hardly exists in large parts north of the equator,” meaning that it’s largely concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa;
•t“The fidelity and commitment of some clergy and religious to their vocations,” perhaps a veiled reference to scandals such the one that erupted last May in the Central African Republic, when Archbishop Paulin Pomodimo resigned after a Vatican investigation revealed that several priests were living more or less openly with women and the children they had fathered;
•t“The loss of members to new religious movements and sects” – which, in today’s Africa, is likely a reference to the rapid expansion of Christian Pentecostalism – as well as a tendency for young Africans to lose their faith when they relocate to Europe and North America;
•tNeed for “a conversion that is deep and permanent.”