Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Pope in Angola

Probably this is old news to many, but I wanted to belatedly link to the BBC’s article “Pope Warns Angola of Witchcraft.”

In it, the Pope is quoted as saying,

“In today's Angola, Catholics should offer the message of Christ to the many who live in the fear of spirits, of evil powers by whom they feel threatened, disoriented, even reaching the point of condemning street children and even the most elderly because - they say - they are sorcerers."

It’s interesting to me that as witchcraft beliefs have spread through southern and central Africa “over the last few years,” as the article says, the phenomenon is echoed by an exponential increase in western novels about witchcraft in medieval Europe and colonial America. Something is drawing western novelists to explore the lives of people living in such abysmal conditions that they seek a scapegoat (a witch), at the same time that people across the world are still LIVING that reality.

In the last paragraph, the article notes the Pope’s shameful refusal to support condom use in combating HIV/AIDS, which is such a tragic epidemic and, I might note, a trigger for witchcraft persecutions. Just as medieval people blamed the plague on Jews poisoning the wells, some Africans blame the spread of AIDS on “witches.” The case of the young girl burned to death in Papua New Guinea a few months ago may have been a result of such an accusation.

Here is the BBC article in full.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found it disappointing that the Pope spoke out so eloquently about witch beliefs, but refused to reconsider his own reactionary views on contraception. So I have to conclude that his advice will not mean an end to superstition, but merely replace one dogma with another.