Vatican dicasteries are promoting a new forum in western Africa to examine African identity and culture in light of recent development and globalization. Through the initiative, organizers hope to continue to recreate the Church and the world through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Addressing these aims, the Pontifical Council for Culture, collaborating with the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, plans to host organize a forum in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in March 2011. The official focus of the encounter will be "Cultures, identities of peoples and development in Africa and the Black Diaspora."
The forum seeks principally to gauge the progress of African countries since many became independent 50 years ago and examine just how development and globalization have impacted the continent's peoples and cultures. According to the Council for Culture, in brief, it is "time for an analysis and course correction if necessary in the promotion and direction of 'development' in Africa."
The meeting will bring ecclesiastical, international and non-governmental organizations together to examine development strategies that remain centered on the human person. Organizers hope that the forum will also become a "permanent place of reflection, for concrete proposals for a cultural and educational engagement which will promote a subject concerned with 'development' in Africa."
"Decisive importance" is being put on beginning these reflections together with pastors and theologians of Africa, according to the organizing Vatican dicasteries, because the "Church is convinced that all development begins and centers around the Gospel message."
In this sense, the forum also seeks to promote "serious debate on 'Development and Culture'" in the vein of last October's Synod for Africa, during which Pope Benedict XVI spoke of a "New Pentecost for Africa."
In his reflection for the first general congregation of the 2009 Synod, the Holy Father asked for prayers for a new Pentecost, "that the Lord may bring about the outpouring of his Spirit now and recreate his Church and the world."
The first preparatory meeting for the international encounter will be held in the Ivory Coast next week.