2009-10-13 16:01:39

Nigerian bishops ask for synod action against belief in witchcraft

(Oct.13,2009): Two bishops from Nigeria asked the Synod of Bishops for Africa to make a clear commitment to educating Catholics about the fact that, while the devil exists, witchcraft does not. "Suspected witches are abandoned, isolated, discriminated against and ostracized from the community," Bishop Augustine Akubeze of Uromi told the synod on Monday. (Oct. 12.) He said people have been known to accuse someone of being a witch just to settle personal squabbles. Bishop Akubeze said that while witchcraft "lacks any justification in reason, science and common sense," people continue to believe in it. He called on the synod to make clear the church's teaching that God is all-powerful and that he sent his Son to save all people from evil.
And Bishop Joseph Ekuwem of Uyo, Nigeria, said that across the continent people believe that "witchcraft is an evil force, capable of inflicting both spiritual and physical harm on a person." While Christians believe the devil does exist, the superstitions about witchcraft are so pronounced, that people see witches as having more power than God, he said. The bishop called for "an authentic catechesis, deeply biblical and theological, to be offered in seminaries, and for simpler versions of the church's teaching about evil and Jesus' victory over it, to be developed for the faithful. Bishop Ekuwem told the synod, "We have to teach our people and save them from the claws of false belief and terrible occult practices like witchcraft."

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