The Church We Want: African Catholics Look to Vatican III.

AuthorAdmirand, Peter
PositionAFRICA - Book review

Orobator, Agbonkhianmeghe E., ed. The Church We Want: African Catholics Look to Vatican III. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2016.

The world is a very different place since Vatican II (1962-65), the last global ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church. That council, in part, was meant to modernize the Church, opening it up to the world through deeper dialogue and partnership, ecumenically in terms of other Christians, and those of other or no faiths. Despite ongoing evaluation of its actual aims or successes (and failures), Vatican II helped fashion a Catholic ethos and culture that today is more engaged in dialogue with all peoples and cultures; it promotes human dignity and human rights; and it is more attuned to the political and economic engagement that springs from such truths. Also essential in reading "the signs of the times" was its call for the development and maturity of local churches, especially in the so-called third world.

In The Church We Want: African Catholics Look to Vatican III, eighteen articles were selected based on the wider work produced through a three-year research project involving African theologians, bishops, and other experts reflecting on theological and moral issues relevant to the Catholic Church in general, and Africa specifically, since 1965. Significantly, notwithstanding the book's title, which implies a certain level of uniformity, the voices in the book are not uniform. The book is divided into three parts, with the first part examining the effects of Pope Francis on the Church in Africa; the second part assessing and critiquing how theology is taught and implemented in Africa and the significance and impact of Church teaching in Africa; and the third part specifically looking toward Vatican III and highlighting areas in need of deeper discussion and soul searching, particularly the role and value ascribed to women.

Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator offers an informed and passionate introductory essay that provides the context and main themes of each essay. In addition, he offers a glimpse into the kind of inclusive Church he envisions, rooted in social justice and the care of the poor, while embracing the full role of women at all levels within the Church. Only men are ordained into the Roman Catholic priesthood and the subsequent higher levels of authority where the core decisions of Church life and practice are made. This...

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