Nigerian Cardinal Says He’s One With Country’s Youth on Eve of Papal Dialogue

Peter Ebere Cardinal Okpaleke, the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia bishop, told Nigeria’s youth that he is ‘one with them’ in hoping for a “fruitful conversation” with Pope Francis on the eve of the virtual papal dialogue on Nov. 1.

Papal Dialogue with African Youth

In a report by ACI Africa, Cardinal Okpaleke said that he is looking forward to the African youth’s meaningful dialogue with the leader of the Catholic Church.

“I wish you a fruitful conversation with the Holy Father, and look forward to the renewal of the Church in Africa through your energy, creativity and resourcefulness,” Okpaleke said in his letter quoted by ACI Africa.

The Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTAN) circulated the Nigerian cardinal’s letter. PACTPAN reportedly organized the virtual event.

Okpaleke added how technology has allowed for effortless interactions among people from different countries.

The cardinal mentioned that youth from African nations “separated by time and space” can share their views and form a network using virtual channels. He added that such online activity would give the African youth chance to speak with the pope.

“On this occasion of the African Youth Digital Synodal conversation with the Holy Father Pope Francis, we thank God, who through the creativity of human beings, many of who were young people, gave humanity the virtual space where the young people, separated by time and space, come together, encounter and interact with each other with signs and sound, share insights, build bridges and networks for good,” Okpaleke wrote.

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Challenges, Opportunities for African Youth

The Nigerian prelate noted the challenges and opportunities the youth faces brought by technology.

Okpaleke said that the ‘possibilities brought by technological innovations’ make one wonder how young people could use their “imagination and ingenuity” to effect “new ends.”

The Nigerian cardinal lamented how the lack of quality education prevents many young people from realizing their potential and making their contribution to society.

“These technical possibilities challenge us to cultivate deep and life-giving values, to enthrone a civilization of love, to guide the use of new capabilities made possible,” Okpaleke noted.

Details of the Virtual Papal Dialogue

The same report said the virtual dialogue between Pope Francis and the African youth occurred on Nov. 1, All Saints’ Day. The youth participants were university students from nine African countries, including Nigeria and Kenya.

Sr. Leonida Katunge, head of Kenya’s national steering committee for the event, disclosed that they expected more than 3,000 African youth to participate in the papal dialogue. She bared that the participants were meant to form solidarity with Pope Francis in dealing with the challenges present on the African continent.

Aside from Nigeria and Kenya, the other African countries who participated in the virtual gathering were Cameroon, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Congo Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe.

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