AFRICA/NIGERIA - Overcoming the sin of tribalism: a challenge for the Church of Africa

Tuesday, 20 February 2018 religious minorities   ethnic minorities   evangelization   christianity   tribalism   local churches  

Ahiara (Agenzia Fides) - The well-known ethnic and tribal crisis that struck the Nigerian diocese of Ahiara "is just the tip of the iceberg", reports Ivorian theologian Donald Zagore, missionary of the Society of African Missions (SMA) to Agenzia Fides. The Bishop of Ahiara Msgr. Peter Ebere Opkalaeke announced his resignation from his episcopal office, following the refusal of priests and laity to welcome him as a Bishop.
Theologian Donald Zagore observes: "When in the Catholic Church, whose essence itself means communion, fraternity, unity, members are divided by ethnic and tribal issues, we must seriously ask ourselves the prophetic question: have we really understood the meaning of our time and our faith?".
"Unfortunately - he continues - we realize, day after day, that the blood of culture, ethnicity, of the tribe remains stronger and more important than the sacred water of baptism. The paradigm of the 'Church family of God' in Africa, often seems a meaningless discourse, which at times takes on the appearance of a farce. We are moving ever more from the 'Church family of God' to the tribal Church. It must be said with force that this attitude is anything but Christian", insists Fr. Zagore.
The missionary continues: "Tribalism is in no way characteristic of the Church of Jesus Christ. The only value remains the desire to serve God by submitting to His will. A will that is detected in terms of love and living together. Like Christ, we must categorically refuse to let ourselves be chained by the intertwining of tribal and ethnic bonds, we must be open to the universal, to every man and every woman, regardless of their cultural, racial or ethnic origins. In fact, as St. Paul says, "in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). Effective pastoral work is urgently needed in this direction", concludes the theologian. (DZ/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 20/2/2018)