Geostrategic Competition of Non-State Actors in Africa: The Roman Catholic Church in the Fight for the «Continent of Hope»)


Ruslan Dmitriev, Stanislav Gorokhov


The Catholic Church of Africa understand the spiritual and material needs of Africans, which allows Catholicism to compete quite successfully with other religions for their souls and hearts. The Vatican takes into account that modern Africa is a continent with a huge and rapidly growing population, facing such serious challenges as global poverty and disease, corruption, economic instability, political crises. This explains the humanitarian focus of the Catholic Church on the continent, which offers Africans, along with spiritual support, educational and medical services. The Catholic hierarchs of Africa and the Vatican face a number of painful issues, the future of Catholicism on the «continent of hope» depends to a large extent on their solution. Africa consists of more than 50 independent states, and the Catholic Church needs to build correct relations with completely different political regimes on the continent – from the extreme left to the right and nationalist. Since the colonial times, the Catholic hierarchy, to a much greater degree than the Protestant churches organized according to the network principle, was distinguished by its political commitment. However, in modern Africa, the Catholic Church must remain above political fights, to affirm its status as an arbiter in conflicts tearing up African society. Despite a completely optimistic picture of the development of Catholicism in Africa, the alarming signal for Catholic hierarchs is the fact that with an increase in the share of Catholics in the population of the continent, since 1970 there has been a decrease in their share in the Christian population. This trend persists for all the largest Catholic countries in Africa. Thus, Protestantism so far wins in the competition with Catholicism for the African flock. One of the most effective ways to strengthen the authority of the Catholic Church remains regular visits of the pontiff to African countries. It is during these visits that the Pope can establish contacts with the governments of the countries at the highest level, as well as with representatives of religious, public circles, cultural and business figures, communicating to them the opinion of the leadership of the Catholic Church on the broadest issues – not only humanitarian, but also socio-political character. Moreover, the visits of the Pope, organized as pilgrimages, are not only of great political, but also religious and emotional significance for the population of the country he is visiting, attracting large masses of people to participate in this event.


Africa, Catholicism, Vatican, Culture Policy, Social Activities, Armed Conflict




1. African Bishops Want Action on Priests Who Remain in Europe. (accessed 30.06.2019)
2. Brown D., James P. Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics v. 2.0. (accessed 15.06.2019)
3. Den’ uzhasa: dzhikhadisty ubili 147 chelovek v universitete Kenii (Horror Day: Jihadists Killed 147 People at the University of Kenya). Pravmir. (accessed 29.06.2019)
4. Dmitriev R.V. Islamskii ekstremizm v raione basseina ozera Chad (Islamic Extremism in the Lake Chad Region). Mezhdunarodnye protsessy. 2017, vol 15, № 1 (48), pp. 92–107. ISSN 1728-2756. DOI: 10.17994/IT.2017.
5. Dossier-Statistiche – 2018. 2018_FIDES_ENG.pdf (accessed 05.07.2019)
6. Erasova E.N. Vatikan v sovremennoi Afrike: ideologiya i politika (Vatican in Modern Africa: Ideology and Politics). Moscow, Nauka. Glavnaya redaktsiya vostochnoi literatury. 1986. 136 p. ISBN 5-02-016385-6.