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The Dual Reality of Salvation and the Church in Nigeria

Gabriel T. Wankar

This book proposes an approach to the connection between salvation theory and ecclesial spirituality in Nigeria, indicating how the factors of economic, political, and religious co-existence are related, with implications for a deeper understanding of salvation. Considering African Synods I and II, the author proposes a paradigm shift toward a new pastoral option for the Church in Nigeria in the program for seminary formation, which prioritizes strengthening of ecumenical/interreligious structures of dialogue and collaboration as a process of rapprochement to enable an emancipatory praxis to come to existence for the Church’s ministry and witnessing to "become flesh" in the reality of people’s lives. This entails a deeper spiritual and practical understanding of religion, couched in terms of dialogue that translates into alliances and cooperation for the common good based on ties common to all religions and, most importantly, the possibility of forming synergies with civil society organizations in pursuit of the common good.

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Chapter 3. Interpreting the Church in Action: Icons and Martyrs

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· 3 · INTERPRETING THE CHURCH IN ACTION Icons and Martyrs This chapter reviews the responses of the Catholic Church and other church bodies to the ferment of liberation that permeated Latin America from the late 1960s to present, comparing it with the experiences of parts of Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. It will illustrate the significant new social orientation of the Catholic Church towards the historical reality of Latin America in the past few decades, which I characterize as an active interpretation of the mission of the Church as the body of Christ in history.1 The majority of the population of Latin America, which was once considered predominantly Catholic, is distinguished by the experience of entrenched poverty and injustice.2 In response, the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) inspired a spiral of changes in religious practic- es, belief systems, and political institutions across the region.3 These changes altered the contours of that society and inspired new understandings and inter- pretations of the Christian Gospel. A combination of intra- and extraecclesial pressures compelled the Catholic Church to question its role as a pillar of sup- port for oppressive regimes and the oligarchy in most of Latin America.4 Paul E. Sigmund notes the change in the Latin American Catholic Church from hierarchical to pluralistic orientation, in which there were, introduced a variety of political ideas, ideologies and movements based explicitly on the Christian message.5 This new way of thinking sparked striking innovations, from Interpreting the Church in Action 86 THE DUAL REALITY OF SALVATION...

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