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-Pope Speaks Out Against Witchcraft in Africa

by Dr. D ~ November 21st, 2011

POPE BENEDICT XVI in Portugal

    (Image by Catholic Church via Flickr)

Pope Benedict XVI upon his arrival in Angola, Africa warned faithful Catholics against dabbling in traditional witchcraft. Particularly about the dangers of combining Christianity with traditional African magic:

“In today’s Angola, Catholics should offer the message of Christ to the many who live in the fear of spirits, of evil powers by whom they feel threatened.”

“If we are convinced that, without Christ, life lacks something, that something real – indeed, the most real thing of all – is missing, we must also be convinced that we do no injustice to anyone if we present Christ to them. Indeed, we must do this. It is our duty to offer everyone this possibility of attaining eternal life.”

Fact is that in Africa today, many Christians may attend church on Sunday but if one of their family members is sick they might go to the local witch doctor for help on Monday. The Catholic church in particular seems to lack the power or understanding to deal with sicknesses and traditional curses

One of the major problems facing the church in Africa is caused by a Western world view that seeks to be tolerant of other religions and doesn’t recognize the reality or power of the native traditions or take them serious. Western trained clergy consider folk religion and reliance on witch doctors as nothing more than superstition.

As a result, some mainline Christian churches including the Catholic church have declined in numbers and influence. Meanwhile, pentecostal and charismatic churches which do recognize the reality and power in folk religions and offer a viable opposition and alternative in all aspects including healing, and deliverance are increasing exponentially.

Michael Katola, a lecturer in Catholic pastoral theology expanded on the world-view problem from a Catholic perspective:

“Witchcraft is a reality; it is not a superstition. Many communities know these powers exist.”

“Many of our Christians seek deliverance, healing and exorcism from other denominations because priests do not realize they have redemptive powers. If we don’t believe in the existence of witchcraft as Satanism, then we cannot deal with it.”

Response: Personally I have had conversations with a  number of folks that have been missionaries to Africa. All of them learned to take seriously the demonic power resident in folk magic and religions. Also all of them believed that the power of the Holy Spirit demonstrated in Christianity was far more powerful.

Some found that one of the best ways to establish a new church in an African village was to actually confront folk religions by healing or delivering in the name of Jesus Christ some who the witch doctors couldn’t, particularly the poor who could not afford the traditional ‘cure’.              *Top

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