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.

Where's my vuvuzela

At last, the FIFA World Cup kicks off today, vuvuzelas and all and with Ireland having been robbed of iwhat had appeared to be its rightful place in South Africa, the quadrennial (biennial, if you include the European championships) question arises as to whether Irish soccer fans can countenance supporting  our English neighbours. Due to the post-colonial angst still pervading the Irish psyche due to the centuries of English subjugation, the question is raised time and time again. Certainly considering the high levels of support that English Premier League teams, particularly Manchester United and Liverpool, have in Ireland it is a legitimate question to ask. An outsider arriving could be forgiven for thinking that it should make no difference whether Wayne Rooney or Steven Gerrard are representing their country or their respective clubs. Of course, the football gods could be mischievous enough in this world cup and pit current enemy number one France against the ol' enemy England at some point in the tournament. Who to support then could be an interesting dilemma for those avid fans who feel compelled to choose sides. Actually, the question should be which of the two countries’ exit at the hands of the other will ensure record amounts of the black stuff are drowned in joyous merriment across the land. I ask this question, because several years ago, I was accosted by an irate and inebriated woman who took it upon her sorry self to express her displeasure at my ‘absolute cheek’ to wear the bright red ‘away’ England jersey. I was certainly taken aback to say the least and even though I was aware of the long arduous history between the Irish and the English I did not think this woman’s reaction was called for. Anyway, it should be interesting to see how both teams progress.