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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

African bishops want action on priests who remain in Europe

Catholic bishops in Africa have voiced concern about a growing number of priests who fail to return home after training or ministering in Europe, in violation of Church norms.

“Many priests respect agreements by coming back after working in Europe, but we’re concerned about those who don’t,” said Fr Emmanuel Wohi Nin, general secretary of the bishops’ conference in Ivory Coast.

“Some Western bishops, lacking priests of their own, are allowing this to happen and saying nothing when our clergy stay on. We need solutions on both sides,” the priest told Catholic News Service.

A firm agreement is needed among bishops’ conferences on rules and procedures for African priests in Europe, he said. The problem was raised by Bishop Ignace Bessi Dogbo of Katiola, president of the Ivory Coast bishops’ conference, at a July meeting with his French counterpart, Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseille, and is expected to be discussed again in an upcoming visit by a French delegation to Ivory Coast.

“While it’s true we have plenty of vocations and a vibrant popular religiosity, this doesn’t necessarily mean our faith is stronger. We still have a lot of work of our own to do in building up our Church communities,” Fr Wohi Nin said.

Picture: A woman sits in St Joseph Cathedral in Bambari, Central African Republic, in this 2014 file photo. (CNS photo/Tanya Bindra, EPA).