By Paschal Norbert
NAIROBI, JULY 22,2022 (CISA)- The II Biannual Pan-African Catholic Congress on Theology, Society and Pastoral Life, which was held at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) from July 19 to 22 in Nairobi, Kenya, under the theme “Walking Together for a Vital Church in Africa and in the World,” came to an end today.
The five-day congress brought together several African Catholic and International theologians, scholars, pastoral agents and social justice leaders who deliberated on different sub-themes, which also formed part of their research units: gender mainstreaming of women in leadership, putting an end to child abuse and neglect in Africa, a vital church, Synodality, violence and conflicts and LGBTQ issues in Africa.
Rt Rev Sithembele Sipuka, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Mthatha, South Africa, and member of the board of advisors of the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTPAN) underscored the role of the congress as “to help us to effectively evangelize, to make people relate to God according to who they are as persons and as Africans so that they feel at home in being Christian and Catholic, and then together with them in the light of their discovered dignity, they get to address those things as true faith-filled.”
“The Congress is very important because in the process we have to listen to what is going on in the church today. Not only in the books. To bring all of us together and from all over Africa, is a great opportunity for our church to hear from the people of God, from their everyday life in our parishes and small Christian communities but also those people who are in the margins of the church,” explained Sister Dr Josée Ngalula, coordinator of the Synodality unit at the congress and the first-ever African woman to be a member of the International Theological Commission.
Sr Ngalula opined that the congress is an open opportunity for the researchers to listen to the realities of the people whose voices can’t be heard because they are far from the day-to-day involvements of the people.
“It is important at this moment of the preparation of the Synodality to gather all these researchers and to let our church hear what is going on with the people of God and what are the challenges, but also what are the appeals of the God; what God is saying today in Africa for Africa to have a better life, to have the life in abundance,” she said.
Mumbi Kigutha, the organizing secretary of PACTPAN and a member of the Precious Blood sisters of Ohio, moreover, intimated that the congress is to illuminate, know and believe that the spirit of God is at work in everyone. She also extended an invitation to like-minded individuals who want to join the network in that the network is a community of practitioners and welcomes everyone who identifies with the vision of PACTPAN.
“I think sometimes the impression that PACTPAN is a closed group is when people perhaps would go to our website and see that a lot of our members do have PhDs. The hallowed halls of academia have always seemed to be in a very exclusive class, but I want to tell people, no, we have members from all walks of life and we are open to people from all walks of life who want to live out the spirit of PACTPAN too,” she averred.
PACTPAN, which is currently based at the Center for World Catholicism and Inter-Cultural Theology (CWCIT), DePaul University, Chicago-USA, has a membership of over 200 active members made up of African scholars from very diverse fields and front-line pastoral workers also engaged in a variety of different ministries. The membership of the network is open and drawn from Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.