Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blood Libel, Witchcraft, & Ratzinger's 2011 Visit to Africa

Here is a sampling of some of the Blood Libel style accusations against African Traditional Religions that have surfaced in the last three months:
It's enough to make one think that there must be something in the air. And, indeed, there is. The time is fast approaching for yet another Papal Visit To Darkest Africa, and the droogies are all creeping out from under their rocks to help Prepare The Way for bringing the Good News to the African Heathens.

It is clear that all of the above cited sources are reading from the same script as the Holy Father himself, who recently (October 30) addressed a group of visiting bishops from Angola. Here is the full text of an article from TheVaticanInsider.Com website reporting on this speech, under the very subtle title: Pope against "witchcraft" that affects children:
Three weeks from his second African trip in Benin, the Pope centers his attention on one of the worst plagues of the "sick giant" (Africa), "witchcraft", whose main victims are children and defenseless people.

According to UNICEF, tens of thousands of children in Africa are tortured and killed because of witchcraft. A terrible and little known fact. Unicef has emphasized the same points as the Synod of Africa, which in 2009 denounced “witchcraft” as a “social drama”: in poor households or those affected by catastrophes, often the culprit is sought out in those who are weakest, who are then tortured or killed.

The Pope does not limit himself to condemning these facts, but points the finger at tribal practices and witchcraft, a plague in Africa, which makes its victims among children, and calls on Christians and civil authorities to monitor and repress these attitudes with rigid laws.

It is urgent, the Pope said while receiving the visiting Angolan bishops on their "Ad Limina" visit, that a "joint effort" of the Church, civil society and governments be made "to counter the "scourge" of ritual “murder” of “children and the elderly" due to “witchcraft”. And denouncing the risks of traditional rites and customs, he urged the church to educate against "practices that are incompatible" with Christianity.

The condemnation of these phenomena occupied a large part of the Pope's speech to Angolan bishops today, in which Benedict XVI recalled that the Gospel is "the first factor of development" for Africa. He also warned about "the remnants of ethnic tribalism that is perceived in the attitudes of communities that tend to close in on themselves, not accepting people from other parts of the country."

The spread of the "scourge" of "witchcraft", the Pope argued, stems from the fact that "the heart of the baptized" is often "divided between Christianity and African traditional religions." "Being a regional problem,” he recommended, “a joint effort of the ecclesial community would be important to counter this calamity, trying to determine the deep meanings of these practices, to identify the risks for pastoral and social development, and to find a method leading to its definitive eradication, with the cooperation of governments and civil society."
Here are links to other coverage of the Pope's October 30 speech on African Witchcraft:
Also check out this old post of mine related to Ratzinger's 2009 visit to Africa: "Why not leave them in peace?"

And if you want to learn more about African Traditional Religions, check out my big page on Africa and African Traditional Religions at EGREGORES.