Finding a Social Voice: The Church and Marxism in Africa

Finding a Social Voice: The Church and Marxism in Africa

Finding a Social Voice: The Church and Marxism in Africa

Finding a Social Voice: The Church and Marxism in Africa

Synopsis

Finding a Social Voice investigates how Postcolonial African regimes under varying degree of Marxist influence have interacted with the Catholic Church, and studies how the Church has grown through this interaction.

Excerpt

From the late 1960s until the mid-1980s, the influence of Marxist ideas expanded in sub-Saharan Africa. the Catholic Church saw this influence as likely to affect the accomplishment of its mission. Its pastoral efforts accordingly sought to deal with the Marxist thrust. in the late 1980s, Marxist influence in Africa declined sharply as Marxist political dominance in Eastern Europe collapsed. the Church's concern with Marxism then became less intense. Nevertheless, the Church's encounter with Marxist influence in the earlier decades constituted an important chapter in both secular and ecclesiastical history. the present book tries to record and analyze some significant elements of this encounter.

On the secular side, for reasons arising out of colonial history, the Church's weight in many newly independent African states was often disproportionate to the number of its members. in consequence, "marxizing" governments could not disregard the Church's views. It seems likely, then, that these views had an impact, although it is not readily identifiable, on the structures, policies, and methods that such governments adopted.

On the ecclesiastical side, the Church's pastoral response to Marxist influence was part of its coming to maturity. These were the years in which the churches in Africa were passing from missionary tutelage to indigenous control. Pastoral theologians and religious sociologists were pressing for "inculturation"--the insertion of liturgy, sacramental life, moral norms, and systematic theology into traditional cultures. Equally urgent, however, was the need to bring the Church's social perspectives to bear on the processes of political, economic, and social modernization through which traditional cultures were passing. the encounter with Marxism compelled the Church to deal with this facet of its mission.

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