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African Catholic Church Growing Rapidly
Yahoo ^ | April 15, 2005 | TERRY LEONARD

Posted on 04/15/2005 8:39:38 AM PDT by spetznaz

SOWETO, South Africa - Mass is so crowded at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church that the parishioners spill out into the courtyard, where they huddle close to the doors to hear and be heard.

Worship here is participatory and joyous, not a staid moral duty performed amid pomp and ritual beneath the stained glass of one of Europe's cavernous and magnificent cathedrals.

The Catholic Church seems young, active and relevant, growing at a rate so explosive — with nearly 140 million Roman Catholics in Africa — that it's a vital part of today's Christian expansion.

The next pope will inherit a vibrant African flock but will also face challenges in competing with Islam and Pentecostal Christian Churches, said Archbishop Pius Ncube.

The church is growing so quickly largely because it has sought to embrace what is good in African culture rather than trying to make Africans into Westerners, Ncube said.

"There is a vitality to the church in Africa. In Europe, a Mass is simply a duty you must go through," Ncube said. "Africans like to feel they are celebrating. They want to rejoice, ululate and dance."

At St. Joseph's the priest gives the homily in Zulu and draws boisterous laughter as his examples strike close to home. With no organ, hymns are sung a cappella while the congregation and choir sways and dances.

The number of Catholics in Africa has jumped about 150 percent since Pope John Paul II ascended to the throne of St. Peter in 1978. Churchmen and academics say the growth, the fastest in the long history of the church, promises in time to change the nature of the faith.

"The Church is based on Western traditions that will come under huge pressure after the African church comes of age," said Paul Germond, who teaches comparative religion at the University of the Witswatersrand in Johannesburg.

For decades Western Europe and North America have been seen as the financial base of the church even while the faithful slip from strict adherence to its teachings. Latin America, which is more than 90 percent Roman Catholic, has been viewed as a bedrock of the faith. But Africa has been seen as the growth market in the competition for souls.

St. Joseph's, parishioners say, is a model of what the Second Vatican Council had in mind when it replaced the Latin Mass with the local language and a testament to why the faith is growing so fast in Africa.

The red and tan ceramic floor tile at St. Joseph's is cracked and shattered, the white and orange walls are adorned with cheap modern prints depicting the passion of Christ and the windows are panes of white, yellow and green translucent glass in no discernible pattern.

But its parishioners appear passionately involved in the Mass.

"Since Vatican II, people can clap, dance and play the drums," said Alson Ntombela, 72, a member of the St. Joseph's congregation. "Africans are very spiritual. They like to glorify. The Catholic Church now reflects and accepts our culture."

Makhosonke Maseko, 30, a medical doctor, said he converted to Catholicism from the Presbyterian Church because Roman Catholics more than anyone else try to make religion relevant to Africans.

Ncube said when he became a Roman Catholic 45 years ago, he said there were only two or three African bishops. Now more than 80 percent of the bishops are African. Once most of the priests were Western missionaries, now Africa sends priests to Europe and America.

"Africa is a continent with a lot of troubles, with wars, strife, starvation, poverty and the AIDS crisis. That causes a lot of people to seek God," said Ncube.

He credits John Paul II with much of the success in Africa. The pope made 14 trips to Africa, more than to any other continent.

"He was a pope of the people when so many had been prisoners of the Vatican," said Ncube. "He was a blessing."

Churchmen and academics in Africa said they believe it's unlikely that the College of Cardinals, which begins voting in conclave on Monday, will choose an African pope. But Cardinal Francis Arinze, 72, of Nigeria is considered a possible contender, having risen to the No. 4 position in the Vatican at a time when fundamentalist Islamic and Protestant sects replaced communism as the biggest challenge to Catholic proselytizing.

Germond, the professor, believes the explosion of Christianity in Africa has come partly because the religion is how Africans accepted and made sense of the modern world.

When missionaries brought Christianity, they also brought education and health care. About 60 percent of the hospital beds in Congo now are in Roman Catholic facilities, he said.

"Christianity was entrenched by the education system. Many of Africa's leaders were educated in church schools and universities," said Germond.

But while the growth has been massive, Germond said it is difficult to produce precise figures.

"Africans are very pluralistic in religious beliefs. They can be Catholic and still attend Pentecostal services or go to traditional healers," said Germond.

Adapting the church to African culture is changing the nature of the faith, said Germond. For now the changes in how the faith is practiced are within Africa. But as the church's center of gravity slides south, Western traditions will come under increasing pressure.

"The church is the oldest institution in history. It manages change in a gradual way over generations," said Germond.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: africa; african; africancatholics; africanchristians; arinze; cardinals; catholic; christendom; church; conclave; pope
The most interesting thing is how priests are being 'exported' from South America and Africa to Europe. In essence the church (be it Catholic, Protestant, etc) is facing extinction in Europe (I remember how in Britain entire churches would be virtually empty, with only a couple of old people and their grandkids).

It is somewhat ironic that the very places where missionaries were heading to a few decades ago are now the ones sending missionaries.

1 posted on 04/15/2005 8:39:39 AM PDT by spetznaz
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To: spetznaz

Perhaps in my lifetime they'll move the Holy See to Brazzaville or Seoul, on the grounds that it's pointless to have the Catholic Church be headquartered in a place where there aren't any Catholics.


2 posted on 04/15/2005 8:50:47 AM PDT by SedVictaCatoni (<><)
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To: spetznaz

Your points remind me of a book I recently read that describes the rapid emergence of Christianity in third world countries. It is called "The Next Christendom: The coming of Global Christianity." It is well documented and an eye-opener.


3 posted on 04/15/2005 9:16:24 AM PDT by Cruz
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To: Cruz

Interesting. Would you mind sharing some titbits of info from it? Thanks.


4 posted on 04/15/2005 9:18:45 AM PDT by spetznaz (Nuclear tipped ICBMs: The Ultimate Phallic Symbol.)
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To: spetznaz; american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; ...

Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria

Catholic Ping - Please freepmail me if you want on/off this list


5 posted on 04/15/2005 9:55:07 AM PDT by NYer ("America needs much prayer, lest it lose its soul." John Paul II)
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To: SedVictaCatoni
>>>>>Perhaps in my lifetime they'll move the Holy See to Brazzaville or Seoul, on the grounds that it's pointless to have the Catholic Church be headquartered in a place where there aren't any Catholics.

Actually, there has been an uptick in Catholic practice in Italy during John Paul's pontificate. According to Cardinal Ruini, the level of religious observance in Italy approaches that of the United States. Not great, but better than much of the rest of Europe. An awful lot of Italians went to pay their respects to the Pope, you know.

6 posted on 04/15/2005 10:01:15 AM PDT by Thorin ("I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.")
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To: NYer; Coleus
Africa - Mass is so crowded at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church that the parishioners spill out into the courtyard, where they huddle close to the doors to hear and be heard.

Wish we had this problem in our churches.

7 posted on 04/15/2005 10:08:56 AM PDT by RepubMommy
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To: spetznaz

Europe is now considered pagan territory and is currently a hot missionary focus of many faiths, including cults.


8 posted on 04/15/2005 10:20:02 AM PDT by Ciexyz (Let us always remember, the Lord is in control.)
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To: NYer

I would be most pleased if Cardinal Arinze is elected Pope. Such a change that would be!


9 posted on 04/15/2005 10:21:16 AM PDT by Ciexyz (Let us always remember, the Lord is in control.)
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To: spetznaz

Yes you have to laugh at the irony of the situation. Europe is indeed in danger of becoming swamped under the tide of Islamic Imperialism, it is about time the Church responded. With African missionaries? LOL oh the irony ;-)


10 posted on 04/15/2005 10:22:51 AM PDT by Kelly_2000
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To: spetznaz

A great, great young man leading souls to heaven.

Father Bernard Mary Ayo Oniwe's

Father Bernard, OP (the Order of Preachers) was born in Nigeria in 1968. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dramatic Art from Obafemi Awolowo University. He received his Master’s degree in Theology from the Dominican Institute of Philosophy and Theology, an affiliate of Duquesne University, in Ibadan, Nigeria. He was ordained in 2000 at Ibadan, Nigeria as a Dominican of the Saint Joseph the Worker Providence. He is designated for ministry in the Diocese of Harrisburg and is assigned to serve here for three years.Nigeria is a former British Colony. Father Bernard grew up speaking and studying British English in school, as well as a native Nigerian tribal language. Father Bernard’s previous assignment was associate chaplain at the Chapel of Perpetua Light at Obafemi Awolowo University, one of the most prestigious in Nigeria. Prior to that, he served as associate pastor at Saint Dominic’s in Yaba, Lagos (a province in Nigeria).


11 posted on 04/15/2005 11:26:09 AM PDT by franky (Pray for the souls of the faithful departed.)
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To: spetznaz
African Catholic Church Growing Rapidly

Yes, on our (America's) dime.

12 posted on 04/15/2005 11:59:36 AM PDT by thegreatbeast (Quid lucrum istic mihi est?)
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To: Ciexyz

Agreed!


13 posted on 04/15/2005 12:42:15 PM PDT by Romish_Papist (Canonize Pope John Paul the Great as patron Saint of the unborn.)
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To: thegreatbeast

explain?


14 posted on 04/15/2005 2:01:32 PM PDT by mbraynard
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To: RepubMommy; 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; afraidfortherepublic; Alas; al_c; american colleen; ...
Africa is the future of our church and it's no secret that most of our vocations are coming from there. It's too bad the last 3 presidents and the UN, a pro-terrorism organization, allowed the slaughter of so many Catholics by Muslim extremists and other factions in Africa these past 15 years.
15 posted on 04/15/2005 3:47:02 PM PDT by Coleus (God Bless our beloved Pope John Paul II, Rest in Peace)
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To: spetznaz

The church can bring great political progress indirectly, as well as aid needy africans without corruption. My thoughts:
from wwww.neoperspectives.com
(hyperlinks removed)

Advisor: Reagan Threatened War over Poland (Update 4/8/05)

4/4/2004 Newsmax Despite the saturating media coverage of the Pope's death, this story remains largely untold. Pope John Paul II was the first non Italian pope in over 455 years, and possibly chosen by the Catholic Church for a reason:. he was a native of Poland, which at that time was a stagnating Communist satellite of the Soviet Union. Communists have always suppressed religion (the USSR, China, Cuba, and Cambodia have all massacred Catholic priests and worshipers) and Poland was no exception. Like all the populations of Eastern Europe, the Polish people hated their puppet government, yet feared the Soviet Army, which invaded and brutally suppressed popular uprisings in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. However, this time things were different:

It began on June 7, 1982 at a private Vatican meeting between President Reagan and Pope John Paul II. The two men were alone for 50 minutes and the subject of their discussion was Poland and the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. <> Reagan and the Pope agreed to undertake a clandestine campaign to hasten the dissolution of the communist empire …<> The clandestine U.S. support using the Vatican's Catholic network grew to $8 million a year during the mid 1980s. High tech communications equipment was smuggled in along with printing equipment, supplies, VCRs and freedom tapes. <> When the Russians appeared to be on the brink of an invasion, President Reagan's White House made clear the U.S. would not be acquiescent again. Judge Clark [Reagan's National Security Advisor] told NewsMax bluntly, "We in the Reagan administration were prepared to recommend the use of force if necessary to stop such an invasion." [In reality, we can't be sure how serious the Reagan Admin was about this, or its influence on the Soviet Policy, but the loss of Poland was the catalyst for the liberation of a billion people from Communist rule ] In the end, however, Soviet domination of Poland and Eastern Europe ended, along with the Soviet Union itself, without a shot being fired, thanks to the alliance between Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II – an alliance formed between two men who understood the evil nature of communism and knew how to bring it down.

Not that the Soviets didn't recognize the danger John Paul posed. The Washington Times reports: He spent his formative years in Soviet-run Poland under pervasive government spying. The Turkish gunman who shot him in 1981 was suspected of ties to the Soviets, a regime later brought down by forces the pope openly supported.

However, the most interesting part of the first story is this sentence: Following that [Polish Puppet Communist] government's outlawing of the Solidarity movement, which the Pope had publicly and covertly supported, Reagan suspended Poland's Most Favored Nation trading status, costing cash-strapped Poland some $6 billion a year in sales.

Why is this interesting? Because it is the exact opposite of what is being done today. As documented throughout this website, the United States, World Bank, IMF, UN, and other countries routinely give aid to the governments of countries which are plagued by authoritarianism and corruption. For example, the United States was once the largest grain donor to North Korea and the Taliban. If history is any indication, we can be assured that Reagan was denounced as being 'cold hearted' and 'cruel' to the Polish citizens (as well as being a warmonger). Of course, this is, again, 180 degrees from reality. Today the Polish people and government are among the most staunchly pro-American in all of Europe.

The best way to aid the citizens of poor countries is to threaten their governments, support and, if necessary, arm, democratic and property protecting opposition groups, and give aid to the people via separate organizations that are not controlled by the government. For example, in corrupt and socialistic Africa, the Catholic Church is a force for good:

The church's influence in Africa goes beyond its congregations. Catholic schools educate millions, counting several current leaders among their alumni. Church-run hospitals and clinics serve far more people than the Catholic population. Catholic charities make the church known even in villages without congregations.

And from another AP story:

When missionaries brought Christianity, they also brought education and health care. About 60 percent of the hospital beds in Congo now are in Roman Catholic facilities, he said.

Not everyone has praise for John Paul II. Iranian state controlled media ran critical stories about the Pope and Israel, along with their traditional anti-Semitic broadcasts.


16 posted on 04/15/2005 4:00:02 PM PDT by traviskicks (http://www.neoperspectives.com/foundingoftheunitedstates.htm)
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To: thegreatbeast

Poor you. Does the light shine in your world?


17 posted on 04/15/2005 4:53:05 PM PDT by cyborg
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To: thegreatbeast; mbraynard; cyborg
Yes, on our (America's) dime. ---thegreat.gnu.beast

I fail to get your point. Are you complaining that the tax payer is being 'burdened' by the growth of the African catholic church?

If that is the case you are mistaken. That is so far from the truth it is somewhat ludicrous. While billions are spent by the government in military aid to countries like Egypt, nothing goes towards building catholic churches in Africa (or anywhere else in the world for that matter). The only connection between taxes and Catholicism is that Catholic parishes in the US get tax breaks.

And if you mean that the American parish member, instead of the taxpayer, is giving dimes for (Catholic) church growth you are still wrong. While many protestant churches give a lot towards missionary/church-building activities (a big portion of protestant missionary funds come from this avenue), the American catholic church is not a major contributor to church growth around the world by any measure. Goodness, several Catholic parishes in the US are going bankrupt (and applying for bankruptcy protection and/or selling off church property) due to lack of giving.

And anyways, most churches in Africa (sepcially Catholic churches) normally ask for priests ....and then do the building and everything else through local fundraisers and free labor and materials. The only thing they ask for is a priest to be sent once the facilities are up.

However I guess ignorance is a great bastion for many, such as you, to seek shelter from.

18 posted on 04/15/2005 8:23:22 PM PDT by spetznaz (Nuclear tipped ICBMs: The Ultimate Phallic Symbol.)
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To: cyborg
Meditating Gnu
19 posted on 04/15/2005 8:24:56 PM PDT by spetznaz (Nuclear tipped ICBMs: The Ultimate Phallic Symbol.)
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To: TattooedUSAFConservative

The more I read about Cardinal Arinze, the more optimistic I am that he will at least receive consideration by his fellow cardinals.


20 posted on 04/15/2005 9:18:34 PM PDT by Ciexyz (Let us always remember, the Lord is in control.)
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To: RepubMommy

>> Wish we had this problem in our churches. <<

We do in Northern Virginia.


21 posted on 04/16/2005 9:28:28 AM PDT by dangus
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To: dangus

Good for another bump.


22 posted on 04/16/2005 9:32:47 AM PDT by Ciexyz (Let us always remember, the Lord is in control.)
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To: spetznaz; cyborg
And if you mean that the American parish member, instead of the taxpayer, is giving dimes for (Catholic) church growth you are still wrong.

Barbrastreisand. Collections for missions were regular part of our masses ever since I was a lad.
That said, I was speaking out of bitterness as to what has happened to the Church, particularly around here (MA) and I shouldn't have done so. Was it begign neglect or something worse? At any rate, the Faith was neglected here and we are impoverished both financially and in the number of the faithful.

23 posted on 04/16/2005 12:19:19 PM PDT by thegreatbeast (Quid lucrum istic mihi est?)
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To: cyborg

Cold!



:O)


24 posted on 04/16/2005 12:21:20 PM PDT by Petronski (I thank God Almighty for a most remarkable blessing: John Paul the Great.)
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To: thegreatbeast
No probs. I actually went too far in my response as well (mea culpa, mea maxima culpa). Although I am not a Catholic every year or so I go to visit family in St.Paul, Minnesota, who go to a Catholic church, and the scene there is pretty mush as it is in Europe. Many old members and very few young ones. I've often wondered what would have caused such a shift, but not to much avail. Might you have an answer?
25 posted on 04/16/2005 1:48:59 PM PDT by spetznaz (Nuclear tipped ICBMs: The Ultimate Phallic Symbol.)
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To: thegreatbeast; spetznaz; Petronski

Okay fair enough. I'll bet we can all agree that the state of the Roman Catholic church in America is pretty sad. I don't think having women priests, single priests marrying, girl alta servers, and other liberal machinations are the answer. I think the sex abuse cover ups had a lot to do with weakening the Church's authority and relevancy in people's lives.


26 posted on 04/17/2005 9:49:11 AM PDT by cyborg
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To: Kelly_2000

I find it interesting that the Church seems to be having more success in Africa than many other Western institutions, so yes black African Catholic missionaries being sent to Europe to stem the Islamic tide in France and elsewhere would be ironic eh? ;-)

How likely is a black African like Cardinal Arinze to be chosen THIS conclave? I'd think a Latin American pope might be more likely right now [increasing Protestant evangelism in Latin America may seem a more immediate threat to the Church to address with a Latin American Pope] but I think it may well happen eventually, and it would be quite ironic indeed if by that time Europe has become thoroughly Islamicized while Africa has become the bastion of the Church...hey maybe there's an sci-fi or 'alternate history' story in there somewhere; African Crusaders fighting their way NORTH to reclaim Rome for the Faithful? ;-)...lol.


27 posted on 04/18/2005 6:26:48 AM PDT by FYREDEUS
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To: spetznaz

Africa has traditionally been a conservative bastion of the Christian faith, whether Anglican or Catholic. I would be delighted if the next several Popes came from there.

Sky News ran an item about the oldest chapel in Africa, in Mozambique, established in 1552 by the Portuguese. Still well attended.

Regards, Ivan


28 posted on 04/18/2005 6:29:18 AM PDT by MadIvan (One blog to bring them all...and in the Darkness bind them: http://www.theringwraith.com/)
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