NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) — Roman Catholic leaders in Africa are celebrating the church’s progress and steady growth across the continent as they meet in Kampala, Uganda, this week to mark the 50th anniversary of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.

Established during Pope Paul VI’s 1969 first-ever papal visit to Africa to give its churches a forum to address local and global concerns with one voice, SECAM once consisted of fewer than 50 clerics. The symposium now brings together some 400 delegates from 40 national and regional bodies, including cardinals, archbishops, bishops and priests.

Since 1969, church membership in Africa has more than quadrupled, reaching 178 million, from 40 million, and Roman Catholicism is one of the fastest-growing and most vibrant faiths on

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