Pope Paul VI lecture: A billion reasons to believe in Africa

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CAFOD saw another successful Pope Paul VI lecture on Friday 18 October, as Fr Agbinkhianmeghe E. Orobator SJ joined us at King’s College London with a talk entitled “A billion reasons to believe in Africa: The long march from ‘the hopeless continent’ to ‘the spiritual lung of humanity”.

BBC radio journalist Shelagh Fogarty returned to chair the annual lecture, and around 400 people attended. CAFOD Director Chris Bain opened the evening with a short speech reflecting on the last twelve months for CAFOD. 

Fr Orobator, who currently serves as the Provincial of the Eastern Africa Jesuit Province, focused on harmful stereotypes of Africa and the resilience of the continent in the face of such negative portrayals.

He identified reasons to be hopeful and showed what Africa brings to the world, without ignoring the challenges that face and undermine the continent’s march to progress. Religious intolerance and poor leadership are just two of the issues which still need to be tackled.

Fr Orobator concluded: “A crucial task facing the continent of Africa is to construct an image of itself and generate an agenda of development worthy of the belief, trust and investment of Africans and the global geopolitical fraternity.

“In spite of harmful stigmatization and stereotypical portrayal, Africa has defied formidable odds and demonstrated resilience and resolve borne on the courage and hope of a billion people.

“As should be clear, belief in Africa is first and foremost belief by Africans in Africa! The obstacles to progress are many. Yet the claim of a billion reasons to believe in Africa is not, as might at first be feared, fanciful and delusive; there is ground for a future full of hope.”

In his opening address, Chris Bain thanked the Catholic community for their continued generosity, which enabled CAFOD to spend £39m on our international work alone. He paid tribute both to the hundreds of Religious women and men who marched on Parliament and lobbied over 60 MPs to commit to the IF campaign, and the thousands of CAFOD supporters who were in Hyde Park for the rally.

"CAFOD’s church partners are some of the few humanitarian actors able to provide assistance on both sides of the conflict lines inside Syria, as well as alongside Caritas Lebanon," said Chris. "The Catholic community has once again been wonderfully generous raising over £2m."

Chris also looked forward to what's next for CAFOD's advocacy work. As well as continuing the change agenda begun with the IF campaign and keeping up the pressure for businesses to be transparent, and we'll also be influencing the development of a new generation of development goals to be agreed at the UN General Assembly in Sept 2015, and working to bring climate change to the forefront of the development agenda.

Thank you to all of you who came along and helped to make the evening such a great success.

Download the full text of Fr Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobaor's lecture>>

Watch the full lecture here:

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