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In the discourse surrounding the African Church as the beacon of hope for the global Catholic Faith

In the discourse surrounding the Church in Africa as the beacon of hope for the global Catholic Faith, Fathers William Orbih and Francis Okeke find themselves in distinct perspectives, as illustrated by their respective lecture titles "Critiquing Narratives of Hopelessness in Africa" and "A Broken Church: A Déjà vu of Hope." This apparent divergence masks a fundamental similarity—both scholars emphasize the significance of resistance, manifest through protests, criticisms, and literary expressions, in shaping the prospects of the Church in Africa.


Addressing an audience of over two hundred young Catholics at the Church Life Africa (CLA) 2023 Conference, Fr Orbih champions the reevaluation of prevailing narratives of despair concerning Africa. Instead, he urges attention to the pockets of resistance that illuminate the continent's trajectory. He highlights instances such as the ENDSARS protest, the courageous challenge of hegemony and corruption by youths, and the literary defiance of figures like Chinua Achebe. He emphasizes that resistance is not solely about solutions, but a declaration of identity and agency. It signifies the emergence of engaged minds and active individuals who take charge of their destinies, fostering a sense of ownership and empowerment.


Fr Orbih elucidates, “Passive people are not resistant." He underscores that the outcome of protests need not solely be success; their existence testifies to a people willing to shape their futures independently. He critiques the colonial roots of Christianity in Africa, asserting that the identity crisis among African Christians stems from the religion's association with colonialism. He encourages his audience to challenge the status quo of colonial Christianity and work toward a revitalized, culturally relevant expression of faith.


On the contrary, Fr Okeke underscores the importance of self-criticism within the Church's fabric. He contends that for the Church in Africa to materialize as the hope of the global Catholic Faith, it must adopt a self-critical stance, actively addressing issues and concerns raised within its ranks. Fr Okeke advocates a shift toward a Church that doesn't solely emphasize infrastructure, but also the well-being of its congregants. He calls for equitable remuneration for employees and an intentional incorporation of African cultural traditions into the liturgy.


Fr Okeke paints a narrative of transformation within the African Church, employing the literary techniques of exposition, conflict, climax, and denouement. He envisions a future where the Church evolves from its current state of influx and exodus to a community of committed, honest worshippers. He emphasizes that the path to hope for the Church lies in embracing dissent, nurturing the few but genuine followers, and collectively steering towards resolution.


In conclusion, the dialogue between Fr Orbih and Fr Okeke encapsulates the essence of resistance as a catalyst for hope within the African Church. Their discussions prompt a reevaluation of established paradigms, advocating for the active engagement of both individuals and the institution in shaping a resilient and vibrant faith community.

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