Many Catholic priests and religious have risked their lives trying to protect the defenseless civilian population of the Central African Republic, a country which, sadly, has never truly known peace. In the 57 years since it gained independence, this country – one of the poorest in the world – has suffered one military coup after another.
“You are the hope of this 2000-year-old Church of ours: being young in faith, you must be like the first Christians and radiate enthusiasm and courage…You will also be a leaven of missionary spirit for the older Churches.” Saint John Paul II
In Africa, the number of Catholics is growing faster than the Muslim population. The Catholic Church is also growing at a faster rate than other Christian denominations: since 1980 Africa’s Catholic population has more than tripled to 200 million. But, above all, the growth and enthusiasm of the faith in Africa is a beacon of hope for the continent and the world at large.
Zambia, a landlocked country in southern Africa, is fortunate in enjoying a degree of stability – unlike many other African countries. Nevertheless, the country still faces serious challenges, including poverty, poor infrastructure and an alarmingly high rate—12 percent—of HIV/AIDS, which has resulted in numerous children becoming orphans.
Ethiopia is an ancient Christian country. “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” So says the Ethiopian to Philip in the Acts of the Apostles (8:36). This spontaneous decision, just a few years after the death of Jesus, marks the beginning of Christianity in Africa, and Ethiopia is the first country in sub-Saharan Africa in which Christianity put down permanent roots.