KENYA: Cardinal Sarah to Headline Theological Symposium on Relevance of Missionary Mandate in Africa

By Paschal Norbert

NAIROBI, FEBRUARY 16, 2024 (CISA)Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect emeritus of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will be the keynote speaker in this year’s Tangaza University College Theological Symposium.

The highly anticipated two-day conference organized by the Dogmatic Department of the School of Theology of the Tangaza University College (TUC), will kick off on February 22 to 23 and is themed “Make Disciples of all Nations: The Missionary Mandate of Christ (cf. Mt. 28:19-20) in the Religious, Cultural, and Social context of Africa Today.”

According to organizers of the symposium, the theme is “poised to raise critical questions on the slackening of the missionary impetus, on the relevance of the missionary mandate in Africa, and on how to revive the enthusiasm to share one’s Christian faith with others in the hearts of Catholics.”

“The narrative emphasizes the contemporary role of Africa as a major player in spreading the light of the Good News globally. No longer confined to receiving missionaries, Africa has emerged as a dynamic force actively engaged in evangelization, even reaching Western nations. This shift in dynamics prompts reflection on the changing currents of global Christianity,” they stated in a press release shared with CISA.

The symposium, which promises to be a ‘convergence of theological minds’ will also include Most Rev. Philip Anyolo, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Nairobi, Most Rev. Maurice Muhatia Makumba, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Kisumu and Malawian Dogmatic cum Spiritual Theologian, Prof Clement Majawa among other distinguished African theologians from TUC.

The speakers will explore the rich doctrinal teachings and materials of the Catholic Church, examining how they intersect with the vibrant tapestry of Africa’s religious, cultural, and social landscape and also investigate the current situation within the Church, “addressing the complex interplay between religion, culture, and society.”

“The anticipated presentations range from Most Rev. Maurice Makumba’s exploration of the situation, threats, and opportunities for evangelization in AMECEA to Rev. Prof. Majawa’s examination of the challenge of occultic activities in Eastern Africa. Dr Mary Mukami Njoroge’s perspective on evangelization among the laity in East Africa adds another layer of depth,” reveals the organizers.

“The symposium clearly aims to encourage greater commitment to the missionary mandate among the laity, religious, and future priests. It also underscores the mission of the School of Theology to bring clarity and understanding to the challenges of evangelizing youth, families, and the fast-secularizing societies of Africa,” they maintain.

In an interview with CISA, the choice of the 78-year-old Guinean prelate as the main speaker at the symposium was influenced by his contribution to the understanding of faith and evangelization in both the African and Universal Church and his defense of the Catholic faith and Tradition.

In recent days, Cardinal Sarah has been a leading voice in rejecting the controversial Vatican declaration (Fiducia Supplicans) that allows clergy to bless same-sex couples saying “We do not oppose Pope Francis, but we firmly and radically oppose a heresy that seriously undermines the Church, the Body of Christ, because it is contrary to the Catholic faith and Tradition.”

On October 2, 2023, two days before the opening of Synod 2024, it was revealed that Cardinals Walter Brandmüller and Raymond Leo Burke supported by three other Cardinals, Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, Robert Sarah, and Joseph Zen Ze-kiun had presented a dubia” (questions; literally “doubts”) in July to Pope Francis, concerning the interpretation of Divine Revelation, the blessing of same-sex unions, synodality as a constitutive dimension of the Church, the priestly ordination of women, and repentance as a necessary condition for sacramental absolution in regards to the ongoing Synod on Synodality.

According to the cardinals, the pope gave an inconclusive response to the July dubia, a move which necessitated a follow-up dubia by the cardinals and to which the pope has not responded to.  This situation forced the cardinals to issue a “Notification to Christ’s Faithful,” publishing their questions to the pope ahead of the Synod 2023 so that Catholics “may not be subject to confusion, error, and discouragement but rather may pray for the universal Church and, in particular, the Roman Pontiff, that the Gospel may be taught ever more clearly and followed ever more faithfully.”