Church Fights Witchcraft?


This article from Zenit news service would lead you to think the Church is fighting witchcraft in Africa, right? Well, when I read the article it seems to be saying almost the direct opposite. They are fighting a “belief in witchcraft.” The German bishop “noted that belief in witchcraft is heightened by a prevailing fear in society.” How to overcome fear and superstition? He says, “the first battle is convincing family leaders of the need for literacy.”

One thing’s for sure, if they can’t read and they don’t have movie theaters, then Harry Potter can’t be blamed.

To read the whole article . . . .

ZE07092507 – 2007-09-25

Church in Central Africa Fights Witchcraft
Parishes Try to Instill Habit of Forgiveness

KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, SEPT. 25, 2007 ( On top of the many problems faced in Africa, the Church in the Central African Republic is battling against the idea that suffering and natural disasters are caused by witches.

Bishop Peter Marzinkowski of Alindao spoke with the group Aid to the Church in Need about the lingering belief in witchcraft. About one-quarter of the country is Catholic, one-quarter Protestant.

The prelate explained that many of the people have “no natural explanation for death, sickness or natural disasters.” The people always look for a scapegoat who must, in their view, have caused the misfortune through witchcraft, he said.

Accusations of witchery can be hurled at anyone, Bishop Marzinkowski explained, and the accused can sometimes be killed as punishment.

Even Christians are sometimes guilty of thinking in this way, the German-born bishop added, given that the faith is not yet deeply rooted and “at the least difficulty they relapse back into their traditional way of thinking.”


Bishop Marzinkowski said that the Church continues to preach the Gospel, and especially tries to instill the Christian concept of forgiveness.

“We must help the people to acquire a new image of God and man,” he said.

The 68-year-old prelate explained that many parishes exclude people who have accused someone of witchcraft until they come to retract their accusations.

The bishop noted that belief in witchcraft is heightened by a prevailing fear in society.

The social support system is in ruins, he said, and state-run institutions such as schools and hospitals are no longer running.

He said the money that should be flowing in to development aid is mostly used to pay back the debt the country has incurred with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. “The repayments are strangling the country,” Bishop Marzinkowski lamented.


The prelate detailed the Church’s struggle to promote education, noting that the first battle is convincing family leaders of the need for literacy.

“We cannot proclaim the Gospel while being indifferent to everything else,” Bishop Marzinkowski said. “A society in which there is no education cannot develop.”

Anyone who calls himself a Christian must feel a sense of responsibility for his neighbor, Bishop Marzinkowski emphasized.

The episcopal motto that he chose at his ordination is “solidarity creates joy and life.” Putting this motto into practice, he said, is “the duty of every Christian.”


  1. Solidarity creates joy and life? I’d have thought that an “episcopal motto” might be something that mentions God, but what do I know? It seems to me that in their commendable desire to promote education and literacy and also to discourage the sins of slander and private vengefulness, this particular bit of the Church is ignoring the possibility that there might be people in the neighborhood who ARE messing with spiritual powers they shouldn’t be touching. In which case, their message ought to be something more like: keep praying, and rejoice– you now belong to the side that won the battle.

    One of my pastors was a missionary in rural Ghana for twelve years, and he tells how you could distinguish Christians from animists by their footprints… there were certain places, certain bushes, etc.,m that were considered to be numinous but not in a good way. The animists would detour around such risky spots, while the Christians would just walk straight past them.

  2. Arabella Figg says

    Occultic shamanism is a powerful thing amongst uneducated, indigenous peoples. And you can blame crumbling social structures, debt and the World Bank all you want, but this kind of dark stuff predates modern civilization and political/economic woes by millennia. It’s always thrived on fear.

    I like that the church is trying to instill healing through forgiveness. I admire anyone attempting to work in Africa or any Third World country; the suffering there is boundless.

    And the well-fed kitties look at me with pitiful eyes when the food bowl is down to a couple kibbles!

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