African Catholic Church tested by scandals

2011-11-17 12:51
Rome - When he arrives in Africa on Friday, Pope Benedict XVI will be welcomed by a fast-growing Church struggling with sex and corruption scandals and rivalry from evangelical Christians and Voodooism.

The pope will revisit the themes raised during the synod of African bishops in 2009, when he had called for peace, reconciliation and justice.

The continent has the world's fastest growing number of Catholics - rising by eight million between 2007 and 2008 alone - and often sends its dynamic priests to work in increasingly deserted churches across the secularised West.

But the African Church is also riddled with scandals, from child abuse to extramarital relations, collusion with those in power, and ill-gotten fortunes.

African priests have also been known on occasion to be involved with practices that do not sit happily with the Catholic Church - from exorcism or animal sacrifices to Freemasonry.

In Benin alone, two bishops - including the Archbishop of Cotonou Marcel Honorat Agboton - have been dismissed for sex and corruption scandals.

Ahead of his three-day visit, Benedict has denounced ritual killings in witchcraft practices - a widespread problem in Africa where albinos are often singled out.

The pontiff has also asked those involved in conflicts, such as the strife dividing the Ivory Coast since 2002, not to be afraid to shed light on crimes committed.

He recently called for a cessation to violence between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, where radical Salafists rival mainstream Islam.

The Church "does not want to be a substitute for the state, but can - through its numerous institutions in the education and health sectors - bring comfort and care", he said.

True conscience

Rural depopulation and the promotion of an identity beyond ethnic borders in Africa is seen as a chance for the Catholic Church to reinforce its role as "protector of the weak".

It also hopes to become a "new family" for many, stepping into the void left by weakening community structures, said Mario Giro from the Sant'Egidio community - a Catholic group active in peace-building initiatives in Africa.

According to a Vatican source, the Church feels it has a duty to help Catholics develop a "true conscience" in a region where bad governance abounds.

Competition among religions is fierce in this poverty-struck region.

Many disappointed Catholics have converted to Pentecostalism, which "offers the full package, while the Church only offers a few Hail Marys", said a Beninese religious commentator.

"We need a second evangelism, which would help those baptised not to allow themselves to be attracted by those selling illusions," said Father Ballang, head of the French-speaking African department at the Vatican Radio.

In the meantime the Church is dedicating a lot of its time to improving education and is the main institution engaged in caring for those with Aids, even though it is officially opposed to the use of condoms.

Benedict's first visit to Africa in 2009 was overshadowed by a controversial comment when he said the distribution of condoms "aggravates" the Aids crisis and spoke of sexual abstinence as the only solution.

- SAPA
Read more on:    roman catholic church  |  pope benedict vxi  |  africa  |  religion
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
10 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 40% on outdoor accessories!

Tents, sleeping, day packs and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Month End Madness Sale!

Save up to 60% on across a wide range of goods from books to electronics, DVDs and many more. Sale end 31 January 2015. Shop now!

Valentine’s Day gifts – 14 Feb!

Gifts to spoil him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off fragrances

Get 30% off fragrances for him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off All Textbooks

Save up to 30% off an extensive range of prescribed textbooks for all major universities and FET colleges. Shop Now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Spontaneity and bright ideas are emphasized today but there is a tendency to be too impulsive and you may want to keep a handle on...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.