Maryknoll, New York – The rapid growth of the Catholic population in African countries has been one of the key factors driving the shift of perspective within the church from Western Europe to what is called the Global South. Veteran Vatican reporter John L. Allen, Jr., has called the African continent “the most dynamic corner of the Christian map.”
Two new books from Orbis illustrate this dynamic growth, focusing on issues of both church and society. The Church We Want (August 2016) is the fruit of a 3-year research project, the Theological Colloquium on Church, Religion, and Society in Africa (TCCRSA). The colloquium brought together 60 distinguished scholars and religious who represented a broad spectrum of cultures and regions. Their goal: to develop, model, and sustain a new process and method of theological reflection and study, at the service of the world church. The original essays cover a broad range of topics—ecclesial structure, the bible and the church, the role of women, the gospel of the family, and urgent regional and cultural issues, including the impact of Pope Francis environmental encyclical, Laudato Si’.
In HIV and AIDS in Africa the contributors address the myriad socio-political and spiritual questions raised by the 30-year-long pandemic. As editor Jacquineau Azetsop puts it, “AIDS is altogether a physical, moral, and metaphysical evil that has challenged medicine and human society. How do Christians in Africa reach out to the infected, and how do their communities—especially the Small Christian Communities—provide support to those in need? What biblical foundations can believers draw on in their lives and work, in roles from caregiver to public health administrator? While focused on the particulars of their African context, these essays have resonance for theologians, academics, and health professionals alike.
This fall a series of presentations by the editors and contributors will take place at Boston College (Tuesday, September 20th) Duquesne University (Tuesday, September 27th) DePaul University (Thursday, September 29th) and Villanova University (Monday, October 31st), to which the public is invited.