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    Celebrating 50 Years of Vatican II at Duquesne Symposium

    Challenges and Contributions of the African Church

    When Vatican II met, African bishops participated for the first time in the highest exercise of the Catholic Church's pastoral and teaching ministry. The groundbreaking event led the Church to reflect upon itself for the first time in nearly 2,000 years; to renew and unify the church, and to reach across the ecumenical aisle.

    Fifty years later, Duquesne University is examining the impact of this historic milestone on Friday, Sept. 28, and Saturday, Sept. 29.

    When Vatican II convened, 260 bishops came from Africa. Most were missionary bishops; only 61 were African natives. In the intervening years, the demographics of Christianity-and the Catholic Church-have shifted radically to the southern hemisphere. As a result, churches in Africa have contributed to and are helping to shape the future of the universal Church.

    "Very little of the conference is looking back," said Dr. George Worgul of Duquesne's theology department and the University coordinator for academic programs in Africa. "What began 50 years ago has now matured; we were interested in inviting people who could reflect on that."

    The free, two-day symposium on Challenges and Contributions of the African Church gives people a chance to hear African theologians and Roman Catholic Church leaders such as Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and other internationally known scholars.

    Fifty years ago, the perspective focused on what Westerners could bring to Africa. Today's shifting demographics illustrate that discussion is needed on "what contributions can Africa bring to the West, to the global Church," Worgul said.

    Symposium themes encircle peace, justice, the environment, marriage and family, all issues current and important in both hemispheres, Worgul said. "We have sent missionaries to Africa to help them, but people need to understand that there's a deep richness that has solidified and grown in Africa that can really enrich the West, including the whole understanding of family and connectedness that's present in the African community." 

    The schedule, available online at, includes:

    Friday, Sept. 28
    Power Center Ballroom

    10 a.m.: Why Celebrate 50 years of Vatican II; Challenges/Contributions of the African Church, with Professor Laurenti Magesa, Hekima College, Nairobi, Kenya and the Rev. Paulinus Ikechukwu Odozor, C.S.Sp., University of Notre Dame

    Wolf Auditorium, Bayer Learning Center
    1 p.m.: Interreligious Dialogue, with Professor Michael McCabe, Tangaza College, Nairobi, Kenya

    2:30 p.m.: Marriage and Family with Professors Benezet Bujo, University of Friebourg, Switzerland and David T. Ngong, University of Alabama 

    Saturday, Sept. 29
    Pappert Lecture Hall, Bayer Learning Center

    2 p.m.:Vatican II and the Challenge of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation in Africa with Cardinal Turkson   

    5:30 p.m.: Mass, University Chapel, with Cardinal Turkson presiding.

    Duquesne University

    Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic research universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. The University is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review for its rich academic programs in nine schools of study for nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, and by the Washington Monthly for service and contributing to students' social mobility. Duquesne is a member of the U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for its contributions to Pittsburgh and communities around the globe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges acknowledge Duquesne's commitment to sustainability.