Skip to comments.Vatican seeks priests from Africa to re-evangelise the West
Posted on 11/21/2004 6:16:43 PM PST by ijcr
Plans to ease Britain's acute shortage of Roman Catholic priests by importing scores of African clergy are being discussed by senior bishops with the Pope's blessing.
The initiative to "re-evangelise the West" was raised at a Vatican-backed conference of 100 Catholic bishops and archbishops from Europe and Africa earlier this month.
The bishops, including representatives from Britain, debated the idea of a large-scale exchange of clergy between the booming Church in Africa and its ailing European counterparts.
Under the plans, African priests from parts of the continent where vocations are thriving would send priests to parts of Europe is desperate for clergy.
In return, a far smaller number of priests from Europe would be sent to Africa to help with a shortage of pastoral experience and trained teachers in their theological colleges.
Although there has always been a limited interchange on a local level, such an international scheme has never before been raised by Church leaders. It follows years of declining vocations and growing secularism across Europe, a problem dramatically highlighted by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the head of the Vatican's theological watchdog, at the weekend.
In England and Wales, there were only 18 priests ordained this year and in the diocese of Dublin there was just one this year and there is none due to be ordained next year. In contrast, Nigeria alone has about 5,000 men training to be priests.
Bishop Tom Burns, who was representing the bishops of England and Wales at the conference, said the initiative could become "a kind of reverse missionary effect".
He warned, however, that the plans were at an early stage and would have to be handled sensitively, beginning with dioceses strengthening links with their African counterparts.
The Bishop said clergy from Africa would have to be carefully selected and prepared before being sent to British theological colleges or parishes because of the culture shock. "It is something we would welcome for the right kind of people," he said. "But we have to be wary that dioceses don't just take anybody because they are short of priests and that the attractions of Western life do not confuse the issue.
"I don't think there are any real answers to the vocations crisis unless we are able to foster our own vocations and let our people feel that they have their own priests."
Archbishop John Onaiyekan, the President of the Council of Bishops' Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, said: "I believe priests from places like Nigeria can re-evangelise Europe. Just 150 years ago, it was Europeans who were doing the evangelising. Now we should have the two Churches doing the work - Africa and Europe."
At the conference, bishops said the zeal of Africans needed to be used to help overcome the malaise in the West. They also called on the world's wealthiest countries to help to rid Africa of mass hunger and tackle other issues from Aids to illiteracy. The scheme was strongly backed by Fr Addison Okpeh, a Nigerian priest who has been working at St George's Catholic cathedral in south London for four years.
Fr Okpeh, 43, said he had faced few problems adapting to British culture, though he still found it difficult to adapt to the climate and the restrained style of worship. "People talk of a culture shock but we live now in a global village," said Fr Okpeh from Lagos. "There are already many nationalities in London to whom we could minister, and our young priests could help to spread the idea that the priesthood is not just for the elderly."
No irony here, you reap what you sow.
I think second and third generation secularist will be ripe for evangelism either by Christians or Musllims. Secular socialistic thinking is ulitimately not a stable belief system.
one of the most inspired speakers I have lately listened to, was a Black African Catholic Priest. He had a Baptist gut and a Catholic brain (not that Baptists have no brains or that Catholics have no hearts - don't read to much into this statement)
It aint gonna work.
Why not? Jesus started with 12 men. None were from the nobility,nor men of letters,pop stars, movie actors or great leaders. All that he asked from them is that they have enough faith to fill a mustard seed.
Not on a massive basis. Selected African priests will be able to adapt to the culture, most will not.
Many African men are flocking to the priesthood because, frankly, nobody ever starved in a Roman Catholic seminary.
I don't have a full picture, but I think there are many Filipina and Indian nuns in Italy.
It's already working on a limited scale, in Ireland and here in the U.S. I've both read about and met numerous African priests working in LA, Dublin, Limerick, and even smaller Irish towns. Yes, there is culture shock at first - on both sides. But they get over it.
It might not work on a sudden, wholesale level - but I don't think the Church will proceed in that fashion anyway. I expect a steady escalation of imported priests in Europe and the U.S. And I think it will work out fine.
The other problem is that of the 'white man's burden'. It's not that they are seen as burdens necessarily. It's the flip-side. It that they see themselves as somehow intellectually or culturally inferior and are all too quick to adopt the norms, and the religious indifferentism, of the new host parish.
Not always. You can have those with an inferiority complex who are QUICK to adopt the unbelieving agenda of the local parishioners and priests. Worse - perhaps worse - you can get those sorts who take that ad hoc approach, anything goes, to permit themselves anything with which they were comfortable back home. Since there is a lot of 'syncretism', and superstition, heathenism, etc found in various 'third-world' parishes, they might feel free to open up with that, in some suburb of NJ, or Dublin.
And what's even worse - the parishioners, like mindless sheep, will simply go along. They are completely uncatechized. They can't answer the most basic questions regarding Catholicism. And also because of their own personal perversions prefer to say - who are we to judge? when such a priest begins to act, oddly.
The salvation of The Church is God, Himself. And traditional Catholics love and fear The Lord. It's not just anything goes. It's not - who are we to judge? It's, we know what Catholics believe. We judge our own actions. We criticize ourselves. And we don't tolerate what Our Lord refused to tolerate, and what His Apostles and clergy refused to tolerate in the early Church which was immediately racked with the first heresies, and first heretics.
The Church is still here. But you have to look for it. We all look ahead to the next Pope, to either take that final step into formal heresy, or to start turning things around for the better. It could still go either way. But if the local parishes are already lost to Protestantism, or just outright unbelief, then importing African priests isn't going to change that.
I'm predicting the next Pope will be either an African (Cardinal ARinze)or Indian (CArdinal Ivan DIas). ANd BOTH knwo about the dangers ofIslam and will fight it just as Pope JPII fought against communism
OF course it's going to work, I have tremendous respect for the faith of my African brethern
I will repeat. It aint gonna work.
All the wishful thinking in the world wont make this work.
Nope. The next Pope will be an Italian in his mid-to-late 60s. Arinze will be 72 in 2005.
But, Arinze will be fine, as he has expressed a strong preference for local acculturation in liturgical matters and deference to bishops' conferences.
Many bishops are anxious for the Church to become less centralized, and Arinze seems to favor that.
My priest is from Hatti... He was a little hard to understand at first as well but we love him... He is so humble and truly serves the lord with all of his heart..
"In return, a far smaller number of priests from Europe would be sent to Africa to help with a shortage of pastoral experience and trained teachers in their theological colleges."
The Anglican Church is going to be doing the same thing to the Episcopal Church USA, too.
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