Catholics in Africa need to constantly reclaim the faith that they received at baptism and not abandon the Church in search of other Christian Churches.
Nigeria’s Obiageli Nzenwa, a Medical Lab Technologist and Human Resource Management Consultant made the challenge to Catholic laypersons when she spoke to Vatican Radio in an interview. Obiageli was reflecting and re-echoing a talk she gave at an African Christian Theological Conference in Rome, recently. The Conference which brought together leading experts, scholars, and theologians reflected on the 20th-century origins of African Christian theology as well as its contemporary and future mission. The Conference was hosted and organised by the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture in collaboration with Fr. Paulinus Odozor, C.S.Sp. also of the University of Notre Dame.
Obiageli who lives in Abuja with her husband and their five children attended the Conference in her individual capacity as a devout Catholic and parishioner of the Archdiocese of Abuja.
According to Obiageli leaving the Catholic Church for another is not a real solution. She urged Catholics, in Africa, to persevere in their faith within the Church.
However, Obiageli was of the view that parish priests in Africa equally need to stay abreast of new issues facing the laity and be in a position to give comprehensive explanations on moral and pastoral challenges facing the laity.
Obiageli cites the problem of childlessness in Africa as a matter that is of great concern to many couples and families. As a result, many couples in Africa are turning to In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF). The irony is that many priests are unaware of this trend in spite of the Church’s long-standing rejection of reproductive technologies that manipulate human embryos. Some priests, she says, do not even know what the procedure is all about.
“I was really, really surprised to know that a lot of priests don’t even know what IVF is all about. If they do not know, and a parishioner comes to them with that kind of problem, I wonder what the priest would tell the parishioner. I am not going to speak for the Church, but these are the reasons why such conferences are held so that you listen to voices from the pew,” said Obiageli.
(Fr. Paul Samasumo, Vatican Radio/ Photo by Alessandro Sgarito, courtesy of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture)
Listen to Obiageli Nzenwa speaking to Fr. Paul Samasumo (09.22 mins)