Catholic leaders to meet in Nigeria

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Over 150 Catholic Bishops from across West Africa will gather in Abuja for a plenary meeting of the Regional Episcopal Assembly

Photo: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

More than 150 Catholic Bishops from across West Africa will gather in Abuja for a plenary meeting of the West African Regional Episcopal Conference.

Participants will discuss, among other topics, efforts to promote regional security and good governance. The Catholic Church has a significant presence in Africa. According to Vatican data, about 20% of Catholics live in Africa. The Church, on the other hand, reported a growth rate of 2.1% in 2020 on the continent, its highest rate in the world.

With the spread of Catholicism stagnating and shrinking in Europe and America, the Church has refocused its evangelistic efforts in Africa. This should contribute to the longer term trend of the spread of Catholicism on the continent and as such will increase the political and cultural influence of the Church on regional developments.

In host country Nigeria, for example, a country that has seen one of the largest increases in Catholicism in Africa, humanitarian aid and Church support for government efforts to fight Boko Haram have led to the election of Catholic deputies to parliament and increased influence in provincial politics. Additionally, a new religious stratification in the country between Christians and Muslims has heightened sectarian tensions, contributing to a near doubling of violent crime since 2017.

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