The New Evangelization - Africa











Namibia -  State in S Africa: capital, Windhoek. Shares the history of South Africa. Their hierarchy was established 1994, but there is a shortage of priests. Catholics make up 20% of the population.

Niger - Republic in CW Africa: capital, Niamey. Their first mission was established in 1831. An apostolic prefecture was established in 1942, and the first diocese in 1961. It is predominantly Muslim. Catholics are .1% of the population.


Nigeria - Republic in W Africa: capital, Lagos. The Portuguese brought Christianity in the 15th century. There was some evangelization by the Capuchins in the 17th century. Systematic missionary work began in 1840. A vicariate was established  in 1870. A prefecture was set up for missions in 1911 in the northern (Muslim) part. The hierarchy was established 1950. A civil war was fought 1967-1970 (with the secession of Biafra). Bishops have spoken against imposition of Islamic law. Catholics are 14.8% of the population.


Rwanda - Republic in EC Africa: capital, Kigali. The Church in Rwanda recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, Catholicism being introduced there in 1900 by the White Fathers or Missionaries of Africa. The first mission was opened in the hills around Save in southern Rwanda, which today is the diocese of Butare. The hierarchy was established in 1959. There is a strong Catholic presence (48%), with almost 500 priests (secular and religious), more than 1000 women religious, and about 350 seminarians. The Church’s position is still uncertain, however, due to intertribal strife. A campaign is currently being waged by the government to discredit Church leaders, to weaken their influence, for not taking sides in the conflict, and being subject to a foreign power (Rome).


Sao Tome and Principe - Republic: two isles off the W coast: capital, Sao Tome. A former possession of the Portuguese, who started evangelization in the 15th century. Its first diocese was established in 1534. It was a major transport center for slaves till the mid 1800s. Catholics are 88% of the population..


Senegal - Republic in W Africa: capital, Dakar. Catholicism was introduced by the  Portuguese in the 15th century. There was incidental mission work in the 16th and 17th centuries by Jesuits and Capuchins. A vicariate was put in charge of the Holy Ghost Fathers in 1779. Evangelism became more effective with the erection of the Senegambia vicariate in 1863. The hierarchy was established in 1955. The country is mainly Muslim. Catholics are 5% of the population.


Sierra Leone - Republic on the W coast: capital, Freetown. Christianity was introduced by Protestant missionaries. Catholicism followed in 1858, through the work of the African Missions Society, joined by the Holy Ghost Fathers in 1864. Catholic missions concentrated on education. The hierarchy was established in 1950. Most of population follow traditional African religions, but there is a large Muslim segment. Church leaders suffered when democratic government was ousted by rebels late in the 1990s. The rebels were defeated in 1998. Catholics are 3% of the population..


Somalia - Republic on east coast of Africa: capital, Mogadishu. Country has been Muslim for centuries. Catholic pastoral activity limited to immigrants. When schools and hospitals nationalized in 1972, some foreign missioners departed. Just 100 Catholics in a population of 9 million.


South Africa - Republic: capitals, Cape Town (legislative), Pretoria (administrative), and Bloemfontein (judicial). Christianity was introduced by the Portuguese, who discovered the Cape of Good Hope in 1488. The Boers, who founded Cape Town, drove the Catholics out. There was no Catholic missionary work till the 19th century. After initial opposition by the British, a bishop established residence in 1837, to evangelize white immigrants and Bantus. The hierarchy was established in 1951. Under apartheid, some Church leaders were arrested, tortured, and deported. Since apartheid ended, Catholic leaders have spoken against increased violence and worked to combat growing AIDS problem. Catholics are 7% of the population.


Sudan - Republic in NE Africa: capital, Khartoum.  It is the largest country on  the continent. Christianity was introduced from Egypt in the 6th century. Under Arab rule, it was gradually eliminated in the north. Evangelization in the south began in the 19th century, resulting in 40,000 Catholics by 1931, with further progress till 1957, when the republic was established. In 1962, restrictions were put on religious freedom, and foreign missionaries expelled. In 1971 some missionaries were allowed back, and in 1974 the hierarchy was established. Fighting began in 1983 between the Arab Muslim North and the black Christian and animist South, which resisted Islamization. In 1984 Islamic penal codes were imposed. Recent policies deny Christians places of worship and the right to gather for prayer. Their churches, schools, and hospitals have been bombed, and Christian and animist children sold into slavery. Appeals to Europe, the US, and the UN have been fruitless. Catholics (all in the south) are 12% of the total population.


Swaziland - Monarchy in South Africa: capital, Mbabane. Catholic mission work was begun by the Servites in 1913. An apostolic prefecture was set up in 1923, and the hierarchy established in 1951. The state established diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1992. Catholics are 5.4% of population.


Tanzania – Republic on and off the East Coast: capital, Dar es Salaam. Union of former Tanganyika (E coast) and Zanzibar (island off E coast). In Tanganyika, the first Catholic mission was set up by the Holy Ghost Fathers, in 1868. The hierarchy was established 1953. In Zanzibar, Augustinians landed with the Portuguese in 1499.  Missionary activity continued till 1698, when the Arabs expelled all priests. There was no further mission work till 1863, when the Holy Ghost Fathers arrived. Zanzibar became point of departure for Tanganyika, Kenya and other parts of E Africa. A vicariate for Zanzibar was set up in 1906. Late in the 20th century, the Church has seen an increase in vocations, and has been active in helping refugees from Rwanda, Burundi, and Mozambique. Catholics are 29% of the population.


Togo - Republic on W coast: Capital, Lomé. Slave raiders have operated here for 200 years. The first Catholic missionaries arrived in 1563 from the African Missions Society. Divine Word Missionaries came in 1914, when an apostolic prefecture was set up. The Divine Word Missionaries (German) were deported after WWI, and African Missionaries returned. The first native priest was ordained in 1922. The hierarchy was established in 1955. Catholics are 28% of the population.


Tunisia - Republic on N coast: capital, Tunis. Ancient Carthage hosted early councils of the North African Church. St. Augustine went to school there. Carthage was devastated by Vandals in the 5th century, and invaded by Muslims in the 7th century. Few Christians remained till the 19th century. In 1843 an apostolic vicariate was set up, and the Archdiocese of Carthage in 1884. The Catholic population was mostly European until Tunis became a republic, when most Europeans left the country. The Archdiocese of Carthage became the Diocese of Tunis. Today’s Catholics are mostly foreign nationals, just .02% of population. The Church's social presence can be seen in schools and hospitals.


Uganda - Republic in E Africa: capital, Kampala. Catholicism was introduced by the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) in 1879. The Church suffered persecution from 1885 to 1887, when 22 Catholics (canonized 1964) and a number of Anglicans died as martyrs. Evangelization, though hindered by war, continued in 1894. The first native bishop was ordained in 1939, and the hierarchy established in 1953. But the Church was suppressed during the reign of Idi Amin (deposed 1979), and is currently hampered by guerilla activity in the north and southwest. In its social activity, the Church devotes much care to those suffering from the spread of HIV/AIDS. Catholics are 46% of the population.


Western Sahara - Region on NW coast, formerly a Spanish overseas province, now under Moroccan control. An apostolic prefecture was set up in 1954 for European Catholics. Non-Europeans are virtually all Muslims.  Catholics are just .057% of the population.


Zambia - Republic in Central Africa: capital, Lusaka. Evangelization by Portuguese priests, in the 16th and 17th centuries, had little lasting effect. Jesuits came to the south in the 1880s, and White Fathers to the north and east in 1895. The west was not evangelized till 1931. Zambian Catholics have welcomed tens of thousands of refugees from the region. Catholics are now 28% of population.


Zimbabwe - Republic in SC Africa: capital, Harare. Former Rhodesia. Attempts to introduce Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant, were made from the 17th century, but they bore little fruit until the establishment of British colonial rule late in the 19th century. Catholicism was introduced in 1879, with progress noted after 1893. The hierarchy was set up in 1955.  In 1969, Rhodesia declared independence from Britain under a new constitution assuring white rule. This was protested by prelates both Catholic and Protestant. After a civil war, the white regime was ousted in 1979. The first black bishop was consecrated in 1973.  The Church now devotes much care to AIDs victims. Catholics are 8.5% of the population.

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