Tuesday 15 June 2010

The Catholic Church In Africa

The news that an Irish-born Catholic Archbishop in Nigeria had resigned (The Irish Times - Tuesday, June 1, 2010) because he had been ‘unfaithful to his vow of celibacy’ led me to wonder whether the Catholic church in Africa had escaped the child abuse scandals that have plagued Ireland, the United States and several other countries around the world. 

The archbishop had also previously been accused of child sex abuse, an allegation he has denied. 

It is interesting that so far, there have not been any major eruption (comparable in scope in Ireland, the US, etc) of child sex abuse scandals in Africa, where the Roman Catholic Church probably has even more significant influence almost similar in some instances, to the kind of influence that the Church had in Ireland in year gone by. 

I believe that with the African congregations consistently shown to be very devout, loyal and by the same token, very deferent to the church hierarchy, this in my mind creates conditions where abuse could be rife especially amongst the rural poor. 

Even as a non-Catholic growing up in Zimbabwe, I was aware of how unquestioning the general populace was of the authority of the Church (to be fair, here I would include all the other major religious denominations too). 

Having been educated by the Christian Brothers in Zimbabwe for all my six years of second level education, I must say I received a really excellent all round education and had an altogether great experience (the CBCs in Southern Africa, which are mainly independent and private, are some of the best schools in the region). 

During those 6 years, I had the fortune to be mentored by some very dedicated and inspirational Irish Christian Brothers, amongst others and therefore would be the first not to make any generalizations. Still I wonder whether any abuses that may have taken place within the African church will ever come to the fore.

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