AFRICA/GUINEA - President of the Episcopal Conference. "We are a young and dynamic Church"

Friday, 21 June 2024 local churches   bishops   migrants  

Conakry (Agenzia Fides) - "The Church in Guinea is a young but at the same time dynamic Church" says Raphaël Balla Guilavogui, Bishop of N'Zérékoré, President of the Episcopal Conference of Guinea, who granted an interview to Fides.

Excellency we are talking about a young but dynamic Church. Can you explain what this means? - "We are a young and vibrant Church: in 2027 we will joyfully celebrate 150 years of evangelization in Guinea. Although we are a minority community, our impact is significant. Of the 13 million Guineans, 10% belong to different Christian denominations, and Catholics represent a little more than 6%. Despite being a minority, our community is dynamic and constantly growing. In the last year, we have enthusiastically welcomed the appointment of three new bishops, bringing the total number of bishops for our five dioceses to six. Of these six bishops, two have been recently appointed. These are the diocese of Guéckédou, erected on June 29, 2023, led by Monsignor Nobert Tamba Sandouno (ordained on November 12, 2023) and that of Boké, erected on February 22 of this year, whose bishop, Monsignor Moïse Tinguiano, was ordained on April 27. The third newly appointed bishop is Bishop François Sylla, coadjutor archbishop of Conakry, ordained on June 8 of this year.

Guinea was evangelized by European missionaries, but is now moving forward thanks to the local clergy?
Guinea was evangelized by the congregation of the Spiritans, who were the first to set foot there in 1877, followed by the White Fathers (Missionaries of Africa) in 1914. Currently, the clergy is made up mostly of local priests, some 214 diocesan priests. We also have a good number of priestly and religious vocations. –

Is it a dynamic Church also on a social level?
The Church has a social role that everyone appreciates, especially in the field of education. From the beginning, the Church has played an important role at the social level by creating schools, training centers, health clinics, etc. Currently, the Church has several schools run largely by religious men and women, in which the majority of students are Muslims. The Church welcomes everyone.

Many young people leave Guinea to seek their fortune in Europe, what is the Church doing about it?
On a social level, the Church is also involved in the information and training of young people who attempt the adventure of clandestine emigration, through the Catholic Organization for Human Promotion (OCPH)/Caritas Guinea, explaining to them the risks and difficulties they will have to face. The theme of this training is "Free to Leave or Stay". It is necessary that young people are well informed and aware of the risks, especially since there are people who return after trying to reach Europe. In this sense, we are creating centers to help former emigrants returning to Guinea to reintegrate into society. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 21/6/2024)