The Catholic Church in Africa: Vibrant, Young, and Resilient | William L. Patenaude | CWR
An interview with Allen Ottaro, national coordinator for MAGiS Kenya
Allen Ottaro, 28, lives in Nairobi, Kenya. A parishioner at St. Paul’s Catholic University Chapel in the Archdiocese of Nairobi, he studied Environmental Planning and Management at Kenyatta University. Mr. Ottaro is the national coordinator of MAGiS Kenya, an Ignatian young adult ministry, and has worked with the African Jesuit AIDS Network. He is also a cofounder of the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa. Mr. Ottaro has attended the past three World Youth Days and looks forward to July’s event in Brazil. He recently spoke with William L. Patenaude for CWR about the Catholic Church in Africa, especially the role of faith in the lives of the continent’s young people.
CWR: After Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation and during the conclave, many in the mainstream media and within the Church hoped for an African pope. How did the election of Pope Francis of Argentina speak to the Church in Africa?
Ottaro: Many people in Africa share similar realities as those in Argentina. The Church in Africa was praying together with the Universal Church for the cardinals as they listened to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And together with the Universal Church, Africans are rejoicing and giving thanks to the Lord for Pope Francis. The images of (then) Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio washing and kissing the feet of those living with HIV and AIDS in his Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and his commitment to the poor, to peace, and to the protection of creation is already making a very strong impression about our own responsibilities as people of faith.
CWR: In general, tell us about the Church in Africa—its strengths and challenges—including how its role varies throughout the continent.