Catholics across Africa are seeking a revitalized church under Pope Francis that is “true to its call to the Gospel and not a power structure,” the archbishop-president of one of the continent’s national bishops’ conferences said.
“We don’t need a power structure,” said Archbishop Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, head of Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa archdiocese and the country’s conference of bishops.
“That’s why the Papal States were given away,” Souraphiel said, referring to the vast Italian landholdings controlled by the papacy until the 19th century. The Vatican should be a “moral voice in the world [that is] credible, whether here in the States or in other parts of the world,” he said.
Souraphiel spoke Oct. 25 in an exclusive interview with NCR during a luncheon hosted by the Washington nonprofit Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. The archbishop toured several U.S. cities in late October to garner support for a planned new Catholic university in his archdiocese, which encompasses Ethiopia’s capital.
Souraphiel said Pope Francis is drawing particular praise from Africans for his focus on migration issues, especially his statements regarding the Italian island of Lampedusa.