Church kicked out African traditionalist ?heathen?

time, Zambia 2005/03/20


Church kicked out African traditionalist ?heathen?

IAM not sure whether Cardinal Wilfrid Napier is
in denial or whether he is deliberately trying to avoid responsibility
for what was done to the people of God (?Racism shock in Catholic
Church?, March 13).

Having been part of the same Catholic Church in
the diocese of Umtata under his metropolitan area of Durban, I
can give Cardinal Napier a few reminders about some issues of
racism with whose resolution he was personally involved.

The first concerned the church?s violation of the
customs of the African people, especially the tradition of circumcision
in the Maluti area (Matatiele and Mount Fletcher) of the diocese
of Umtata. The Basotho and amaHlubi people were excommunicated
when they were found to have participated in this custom. This
happened for many years until the church in that area created
its pseudo-circumcision called ?Christian circumcision? in the
1970s and 1980s.

In 1991-92 the issue turned violent when the church
circumcision group antagonised traditionalists. This resulted
in two men being killed and 15 homesteads burnt down. Some traditional
men within the church urged Cardinal Napier, then the Archbishop
of Durban, to intervene. I was one of the delegation that went
to his office in Durban.

A commission of inquiry was headed by him. However,
the commission?s report was rejected at a meeting in Kokstad in
1992, and Cardinal Napier decided to withdraw as he could not
stand the attitudes of these traditionalists and their chiefs.

The decision that people carrying out ?heathen?
customs would be excommunicated resulted in them living dual lives
? Christians in the open and traditionalists behind closed doors.

It is also common knowledge that black priests were
less privileged and were sent to the remotest areas of the dioceses
where facilities were inadequate or non-existent.

I appeal to the cardinal to say how far the Catholic
Church has progressed in implementing the recommendations of the
African Synod on Africanising the African church. ? Tsepo Matubatuba,

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