The Church in Africa reflected on its last 50 years and pondered where it is headed at a three-day international conference last week.

The Feb. 15-17 conference focused on the theme “Evangelization, theology and salvation in Africa”. It was organized by the Catholic University of West Africa (Université Catholique de l’Afrique de l’Ouest/Unité Universitaire d’Abidjan) in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. It was sponsored by the Regional Bishops’ Conference of West Africa.

The conference marked the 50th anniversary of a conference held in Paris in 1956, which launched the beginning of modern-day African theology.

The participants reflected on the last 50 years and identified prospects regarding enculturation and evangelization in Africa and the rest of the world.

The secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Guinean-born Archbishop Robert Sarah, issued a message for the conference. He commended the meeting, saying that it testified “to the dynamism of your university and its determination to increase the quality of the life of the Church in Africa and Madagascar.”

“The questions posed by African priests already half a century ago, reveal awareness of the challenge of faith experienced by Africans, conscious of being both Africans and Christians,” the archbishop wrote in his message.

“The emerging Church in Africa and especially in the black world, is a challenge for all the baptized to announce and share the Good News, and a call to undertake a specific and inculturated discourse to explain the reasons for the faith and the sanctification of all Africans,” he continued.

“Our vocations as baptized Christians make us missionaries for the world in which we live,” he said.

Archbishop Sarah encouraged a renewed commitment to evangelization and suggested a few questions for the Church of Africa to ponder. They included: What have you done with your baptism? What are you doing about your faith in Jesus Christ? What will be your new missionary impulse in the difficult context of our continent?