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Joseph Ratzinger and the Future of African Theology

The Center for Scriptural Exegesis, Philosophy and Doctrine at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in collaboration with the Benedict XVI Institute for Africa, welcomed 30 professors and graduate students for a conference “Joseph Ratzinger and the Future of African Theology. The conference was planned and directed by Dr. Matthew Levering and Fr. Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai. The three-day meeting, October 17-19, 2019, featured papers and discussion from the invited scholars, who came from Ave Maria University, Berea College, Boston College, Jesuit School of Theology at Berkley, Marquette University, Saint Louis University, Saint Mary’s University-England, University of Notre Dame, and University of Saint Mary of the Lake.
Participants came from Cameroon, China, Germany, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and in the United States from California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

Among the enormous body of material produced by Pope Benedict XVI/Joseph Ratzinger, his work on Christology, Revelation and Interculturality bear directly on the issues which African theologians are facing. Ratzinger offers a unique approach to culture and the encounter between cultures. His Holiness identifies how European notions of culture tend to be in opposition to religion, suggesting that culture is somehow distinct. In the African setting, culture and religion are integrally related. Hence, Ratzinger’s approach offers resources more fitting to the African context.

Fr. Paulinus Odozor, C.S.Sp. (University of Notre Dame) delivered the keynote address “One and the Same? Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI and African Theologians on God and God-language n African Christian Theology.” The invited scholars explored theme in the writings of Ratzinger which contribute to African theological development. Fr. Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai concluded the conference with an address on “Joseph Ratzinger’s Theological Reading of Political Power: Relevance for the Continent of Africa in the 21st Century.”

The scholars presenting papers during the conference included: Fr. Paul Adaja (Loyola University Chicago), Fr. Valery Akoh (University of Saint Mary of the Lake), Sr. Mary Reginald Anibueze, D.D.L. (Berea College), Fr. Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai (Boston College), Fr. Christopher Collins, S.J. (Saint Louis University), Fr. Emery de Gaal (University of Saint Mary of the Lake), Fr. Dennis Kasule (University of Saint Mary of the Lake), Fr. Josephy Lugalambi (Ave Maria University), Tegha A. Nji (Jesuit School of Theology/Santa Clara University), Dr. Joseph Ogbonnaya (Marquette University), Dr. Jacob Phillips (Saint Mary’s University-England), Fr. Aaron Pidel, S.J. (Marquette University).

Also scholars attending were Fr. Thomas A. Baima (University of Saint Mary of the Lake), Dr. Melanie Barrett (University of Saint Mary of the Lake), Dr. Jimmy Bickerstaff (Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota), Mr. Tony Famave (University of Saint Mary of the Lake), Mr. Zacks T. Gaiya (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), Fr. Sabelo Luthuli (University of Saint Mary of the Lake), Dr. Matthew Levering (University of Saint Mary of the Lake), Fr. P Paul Maina Waithaka (University of Saint Mary of the Lake), Dr. Xueying Wang (Loyola University Chicago).

The Center for Scriptural Exegesis, Philosophy and Doctrine is supported by the James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake.