Truly Christian and African: Notre Dame theologian Paulinus Odozor’s new guide

Rev. Paulinus I. Odozor, C.S.Sp. Rev. Paulinus I. Odozor, C.S.Sp.

The election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, as Pope Francis almost two years ago is only 1 illustration of how the Catholic Church has grow to be significantly less concentrated in Europe and North America than in the southern hemisphere. Almost half of the world’s billion Catholics dwell in Latin America, and the Catholic Church in Africa, property to the greatest seminaries in the planet, is growing at an yearly fee of a lot more than 3 %.

University of Notre Dame theologian Rev. Paulinus I. Odozor, C.S.Sp., is mindful of this shift in the Church’s center of gravity and alludes to it as he introduces his new guide, “Morality Really Christian, Actually African: Foundational, Methodological, and Theological Concerns,” not too long ago published by the University of Notre Dame Press.

He also is conscious of how this kind of shifts affect the way theology is accomplished. “Every theology is contextual. Our very lives, shaped by the cultures we inhabit, are the contexts in which we are addressed by God’s revelation,” he stated recently, “but our theology must not be ‘context-bound.’”

A Nigerian priest and a member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1999, Father Odozor specializes in moral theology, Christian ethics, the history of moral theology, theological inculturation, African Christian theology and the theology of marriage.

In “Morality Actually Christian, Truly African,” Father Odozor examines problems, some of them neuralgic, arising from the enculturation of Catholic moral discourse in a religiously pluralistic African circumstance. “My hope,” he writes, “is that theologizing in this kind of an open way, as I try to do right here in this guide, will assist to bring the church and the entire theological community into conversation about Christian ethics (moral theology) in the African context so that what goes on in that element of the Christian community will be of curiosity to all as a ‘Christian theological point,’ and not just as an ‘African factor.’ I believe that what goes on in the recent African church and theology should be of wonderful curiosity to the theological local community elsewhere, given the prospective of this emerging church and its recent and growing influence on the rest of the church.”

Father Odozor acknowledges and respects the critical distance that African theologians should hold from the European culture that colonized, exploited and despoiled the peoples and traditions of Africa, but insists that “African theology demands to rethink the queries about God, because the God of Jesus Christ is genuinely new in African culture just as He is new in each and every other culture.”

As Father Odozor sees it, this “God problem” is crucial to the even more growth of a actually Christian and African moral theology. “Christianity shares some blame for the God problem in Africa and for its attendant results due to the haphazard evangelization in the region of God language,” he writes. “In a bid to plant the faith in Africa, Christian missionaries rapidly dislodged African divinities from their groves or swiftly baptized them with Christian names with no a corresponding modify in the that means they mediated. It is my view, therefore, that the location to begin to do Christian theology in Africa these days is in the area of God language. It is right here we need to get started the dialogue with African traditional religion.”

To hear Father Odozor speak of it, that dialogue ought to be lively. “Our theology must lovingly and critically paint an image of Jesus Christ,” he mentioned lately, “through the lenses and with the brushes that our cultures offer. And that portrait need to indicate anything of the Father Jesus describes, who is universally loving, the Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son or the Vintner who pays laborers so irresponsibly. That God will shock any culture.”

Contact: Father Odozor, 574-631-6583,

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