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Interview with Dr Florence Oloo

November 2, 2009

Tags: Pope Benedict XVI
Interview with Dr Florence Oloo

Interviewer: What is your role in the Synod? What specific contributions can you make – as an African, a woman, and an academic?

Florence Oloo: To my surprise, I was appointed to the Synod by the Holy Father, Benedict VI as an expert. It is a honour and privilege to be working in this Synod; something I would never have dreamt of in my life. My experience as an academic and educator coming from an African country has been very useful to me in the various contributions I have been able to make. Moreover, being a woman in my position has given me a unique opportunity to share my experiences.

Interviewer: Now that you have taken part in several Synod sessions, can you say what challenges the Church is facing in Africa? What can Christians do specifically to help the continent develop fully? Can you give any examples?

Florence Oloo: Africa as we all know, because we read in the press and some of us experience it, has a good number of challenges. Some of these challenges include bad governance, hunger, poverty, disease and corruption – to mention just a few.

These are challenges which we Africans have to fight from within. The Church in Africa has grown in leaps and bounds in the past 15 years which is really good news but of course this brings its own issues. We Christians need to be living a deeply Christian life, get imbued with the social doctrine of the Church so that we can really be leaven in the society where we live. One such area is in public and private governance, together with all the questions of justice and charity. Justice and charity are not practiced in the abstract but towards specific people, and hence in society.
Christians in other countries can help in many different ways.

Strathmore University students in Kenya
Strathmore University students in Kenya
Firstly, with their prayer, which is something that everyone can do. Some can help through their work; others, by giving donations; by helping educational projects which, without a doubt, is what lays the foundation for sustainable, independent development.

Interviewer: The Pope has traveled to two African countries recently, and now has convoked this Synod. In your opinion, what are Benedict XVI’s hopes for Africa?

Florence Oloo: Pope Benedict told us in the opening Mass of the Synod that Africa has an enormous spiritual ‘lung’. This sums it all up. At the same time, he warned us of toxic viruses that could attack this healthy lung in the form of materialism and fundamentalism. May Africans not succumb to these viruses through our lukewarmness, superficial spiritual life, or mere imitation of others.

Interviewer:You are Deputy Vice Chancellor of a university that was started under the inspiration of St Josemaria’s message. Is there one particular lesson from this saint that is especially attractive to Africans? Can you illustrate this with an example?

Florence Oloo: St. Josemaria has always been an inspiration and continues to be so for us. He taught us some basic truths that are very dear to the Africans – a deep respect for the Divine, respect for life, living in solidarity with others especially the less fortunate. I could mention many other examples.

Florence Oloo is Deputy Vice Chancellor of Strathmore University, Nairobi, Kenya. Strathmore University provides all-round education in an atmosphere of freedom and responsibility.

Entretien avec Florence Oloo sur YouTube

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