Vibrant Catholicism Grows in Africa

John ArmstrongRoman Catholicism

Catholics have long had a deeper and more developed sense of social responsibility than evangelical Protestants. They actually have a tradition and papal encyclicals since the late 19th century have addressed such issues seriously.

When I discussed growing African Christianity with several Catholic brothers at Mundelein Seminary in November I was amazed at their comparisons of how the longer, slower development of Catholicism in Nigeria was producing a much more fruitful Christian interaction with culture there than the work of charismatic and indigenous evangelicals. While evangelicals grow in number the Catholic Church is teaching and preparing priests as deeply formed thinkers and leaders for the future.

The Wall Street Journal reported in “What’s News” (January 17) that southern Nigerian Catholics have to prove that they are registered to vote in April in order to continue taking communion,according to a local paper report. As odd as this may sound to American Christians I am personally not surprised by this report at all. African Catholicism is not only vibrant and growing, but frankly maturing in unusual ways. In the next several decades I fully expect the Catholic Church to engage African culture and to make some profound differences in terms of freedom, education and development. There is a clear and strong convergence between Reformed Protestantism and modern Catholicism that intrigues me as one who is an ardent Kuyperian and Reformed minister.