.- Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, spoke this week of the deep faith of many Africans noting how the laity in Africa are “very conscious of their being part of the Church.”
In an interview with Vatican Radio, the cardinal said, “The laity in Africa really feel they are part of the Church.”
He noted how a strong Catholic identity has resulted in social action on the continent. “Many good things exist because lay people are present in society, politics, education, and medicine,” he added.
“Another positive element is the number of young people from many African countries that are responding to the priestly and religious vocation. This is significant. Many countries speak of a boom, a surge in vocations unprecedented in history,” the cardinal stated.
Cardinal Arinze also mentioned the challenges Africa is facing, such as “justice, the respect for human rights, for women, the care for the poor, for children, and for all those who have no one to speak for them.”
Another challenge, he said, was that of convincing politicians that religious considerations should have their place in politics, “not because the Church dictates laws for politics, but rather in the sense that Christian social teaching regarding laws, respect for others, justice, the meaning of service to society, is certainly valid. And not only for Sunday morning,” Arinze said emphatically.
The Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Nigeria native also underscored that the institutional Church “should contribute, certainly not with political formulas, but rather with the conversion of the human heart. The Church cannot remain in the sacristy, because the joys, challenges and sufferings of the people are also the joys, challenges, and sufferings of the Church.”
“Many people consider the Church to be the voice for those who have no voice, an institution—perhaps the last of its kind—in which they can trust,” the cardinal added, “which constitutes a great responsibility and represents thus a great challenge, because the people trust as much in the Church as in the people who direct it, whether they are clergy, laity, or religious; they should all be aware of this great responsibility,” he said.