Witchcraft destroying African church, experts warn

Warning that witchcraft is real and is destroying the Catholic Church in Africa, scholars from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa say that many African priests fear witchcraft or are ignorant of their power to confront the devil.

The Catholic Information Service for Africa reports that the University scholars expressed concern that the church continued to dismiss the dark arts as mere superstition, thereby unwittingly assisting the devil.

For this reason, Christians who suffer because of witchcraft are often dismissed by priests as being superstitious, the scholars say.

Because they do not get adequate help from pastoral agents, they seek the assistance of witchdoctors or join the mushrooming evangelical denominations that offer healing, exorcism and deliverance, they said.

Many African priests fear witchcraft or are ignorant of their own power to confront the devil, the scholars said, adding that Christians visit diviners and magicians to seek practical solutions which the church and science apparently do not offer.

The experts spoke here during a three-day symposium on the pastoral challenge of witchcraft organised by the Institute of Spirituality and Religious Formation at Tangaza College.

Michael Katola, a lecturer in pastoral theology at the University, said from the African perspective Christianity does not seem to have answers to all questions.

And while the church demonised traditional experts such as medicine-men and diviners, it has offered no equivalent alternatives, he added.

"We have many Christians who go to consult fortune-tellers when they want to start a project or when faced with problems," he said.

Africans are not any more superstitious than other peoples, he said. The problem is that the church has not come to terms with the African worldview which accepts the existence of evil powers, he said.

"It is important for the church to understand the fears of the people and not to attribute them to superstition."

"Witchcraft is a reality; it is not superstition," Katola said, adding that "many communities in Kenya know those powers exist in their midst."

Dissatisfied Catholics are swelling the ranks of the new evangelical movements, he said. "Many of our Christians seek deliverance, healing and exorcism from other denominations because priests do not realise they have redemptive powers," Katola said.

He said the responsibility of fighting witchcraft lies with the clergy, who should start by accepting the reality of the phenomenon. "If we don't believe in the existence of witchcraft as Satanism then we can not deal with it."

Witchcraft destroying the Catholic Church in Africa, experts say (Catholic Online, 9/2/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Ancestor Religion and the Christian Faith (Southern Africa Catholic Bishops Conference, Pastoral Statement, 11/8/06)

Tangaza College | Tangaza College: Institute of Spirituality & Religious Formation

No to witchcraft , yes to Christ: Southern African Bishops
Priest slams MP's classroom Satanism hysteria (CathNews, 17/8/06)

12 Feb 2007