Bishops warn priests against witchcraft

Southern Africa’s Catholic bishops have warned priests to stop moonlighting as witchdoctors, fortune tellers and traditional healers, and to rely on Christ for miracles.

The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which represents bishops in South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana, said on its websites some priests were adopting the traditional African practice of calling on ancestors for healing.

The bishops ordered priests to “desist from practices involving spirits”, and to steer clear from witchcraft, fortune-telling and selling spiritual powers or “magic medicines”.

“The belief that ancestors are endowed with supernatural powers borders on idolatry. It is God, and God alone, who is all-powerful while the ancestors are created by him,” said the pastoral letter to priests issued earlier this month.

Many in Southern Africa turn to sangomas – or traditional healers – to cure illness, ward off evil spirits and even improve their sex lives.

Sangomas, who play a key role in rural communities but are also revered by many in towns and cities, call on ancestral spirits to heal and give advice.

Some Christian sects, like the South Africa-based Zion Christian Church, fuse traditional African beliefs about the power of the ancestors with orthodox Christianity.

The Southern African bishops said Catholic priests should instead heal in the name of Jesus Christ, and should tend to the soul, not just the body.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Reuters, via, UK
Aug. 16, 2006

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday August 16, 2006.
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