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Pope Francis began a three-nation Africa tour last week, and for good reason. Africa has the fastest-growing Catholic population on the planet, which is projected to reach nearly 350 million by 2050.

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As America commemorates the 400th anniversary of the creation of representative government in what would become the United States, and the first documented recording of captive Africans being brought to its shores, it is also grappling with the ways the country justified slavery. Nowhere is that discussion more fraught than in its churches.

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As the country marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first slaves, historians are trying to find out as much as possible about Angela, the first African woman documented in Virginia. They see her as a seminal figure in American history — a symbol of 246 years of brutal subjugation that left millions of men, women and children enslaved at the start of the Civil War.

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