Chris Blattman

Forces of previous colonialism unite against new threat

vatican

Pope Benedict opened a special meeting of bishops about Africa with an attack on a new kind of colonialism. From Reuters:

“There is absolutely no doubt that the so-called ‘First’ World has exported up to now and continues to export its spiritual toxic waste that contaminates the peoples of other continents, particularly those of Africa,”

“In this sense, colonialism – while finished in the political sphere – hasn’t really ended,”

Then, apparently without irony:

The Pope said evangelisation was “urgent” in Africa – though the Catholic Church is already growing faster there than in any other part of the world, nearly trebling in size to 150 million followers over 30 years.

The Catholic Church does much of the best development work on the continent. And I don’t begrudge a faith its evagelization. But for the Church to position itself as anti-colonial is a bit rich.

12 Responses

  1. 1. Jean Joseph Leandre says
    As history is written, is evolved, it is obvious that it became really difficult to recruit a Catholic Priest after the hurricane pedophilia wrecked the Catholic Church. As we know, Africa is one of the continents where the Catholicism had suffered one of his biggest lost and this continent has been during the past decades nearly neutralized by Islam. Like an army in time of peace soldiers don’t think about war; consequently, given the nature of the international system, generals are always thinking about new strategies to thwart any surprising attack. In this regard it is not implausible, as a strategic matter that the Pope is trying to fortify the Catholicism in order to create Christian bedrock against the Tsunami of Islam. Don’t forget an affirmation of anything is a denial of something else.

  2. As history is written, is evolved, it is obvious that it became really difficult to recruit a Catholic Priest after the hurricane pedophilia wrecked the Catholic church. As we know, Africa is one of the continents where the catholicism had suffered one of his biggest lost and this continent has been during the past decades nearly neutralized by Islam. Like an army in time of peace soldiers don’t think about war ;cpnsequently, given the nature of the international system, generals are always thinking about new strategies to thwart any surprising attack. In this regard it is not implausible, as a strategic matter, that the Pope is trying to fortify the Catholicism in order to create a Christian bedrock against the Tsunami of Islam. Don’t forget an affirmation of anything is a denial of something else.

  3. The racial superiority has its roots in the early Christian times and has been used to spread the idea of racial superiority over a supposedly inferior race. It has been said in the Christian mythology that peoples of Europe, Asia and Africa were the descendants of Noah’s three sons: Japheth, the originator of Greeks, Gentiles, and Christians, Shem, the originator of the Jews and Arabs, and Ham the progenitor of the Negroes. In the Christian mythology Japheth, the father of the Europeans, was accorded superiority over Shem, which meant Asia and designated primarily the Jews, and over Ham meaning Africa and referred to Africans. From this conception emerged not only the notion of racial superiority but also the idea of religious superiority attach to Europeans faith and under which every human creature shoul conformed; Christianity.
    What we are witnessing today is simply a renewal of an historical heritage. Centuries ago, the Treaty of Westphalia or the Peace of Westphalia (1648) ended the possibilty of the unification of Europe under a single authority. Pope Benedict VIII declared: ” Indeed we declare, say,pronounce and define that is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” Therefore it is not without reason that the Catholic church new form of colonialism is preached by another Benedict Pope, this time in Africa.

  4. The idea of racial superiority has its roots in the early Christian times and has been used to spread the idea od racial predomonance over a supposedly inferior race. It has been said in the Christian mythology that peoples of Europe, Asia and Africa were the descendants of Noah’s three sons: Japheth, the originator of Greeks, Gentiles and Christians, Shem, the originator of the Jews and Arabs and Ham the progenitor of the Negroes. The Christian mythology accorded superiority to Japheth, the father of Europeans, over Shem, which meant Asia and designated primarily the Jews, and over Ham meaning Africa and referred to Africans.
    What we are witnessing today is simply a renewal of this heritage. Centuries ago, the Treaty of Westphalia or the Peace of Westphalia (1648) ended the possibility of the unification of Europe under a single authority. Pope Benedict VIII declared: ” Indeed we declare, say. pronounce and define that is altogether necessary to salvation that every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” Therefore it is not without reason that this new form of colonialism is preached by another Benedict Pope

  5. This post raises an interesting question: is it fair to compare religious organizations (or other other cultural entities) to economic organizations (economic entities) when speaking of neo-colonialism? I am not intending to provide an answer to that question but some points to think about:
    – religion is a business– requiring “capital” in terms of both souls and money
    – religions and foreign economic entities both claim to bring salvation from a destitute state
    however
    – as mentioned, religious development brings tangible benefits in daily life, beyond the monetary and into the psychological realm

    Though, if evangelism leads to heated or violent cultural divisions, is it not just as bad as economic colonization?

    Thanks for the post, many interesting things to think about.

  6. the more interesting subtext here is the identity of those exporting the “spiritual toxic waste” that the Pope dances around but never clearly names – chiefly, if not in whole, proponents of Pentecostalism. equally interesting is the notion that rhetorically at least the Pope seems to be positioning the Roman Catholic church as indigenous and therefore it as a part of Africa is now subject to these colonizing forces. quite an attempted reversal of roles especially when Pentecostalism tends to be more comfortable with an initial round of syncretism – building or co-opting traditional beliefs – rather than supplanting them as the Roman Catholics did before them. In part the Pope is simply stating what anyone who has driven through an African village in the last 5 years knows anecdotally – the Roman Catholic congregations are dwindling and there is a “new” denomination on every corner. If you’re interested in Africa, or South America for that matter, and you’re not paying attention to the rise of Pentecostalism you’re driving blind – just ask the Pope.

  7. This article is more than true. ” Colonialism is the subjudication by physical and psychological force of one culture by another- a colonized power- through military conquest of territory and stereotyping the relation between the two cultures”. How could someone insinuating that colonialism is over? The third world country is still under the dictate of the first world country economically and politically. Being independant on paper doesn’t mean that your colonization period is over.

  8. As far as ‘authenticity’ goes, the Catholic Church really cant be beat; services are done by local staff, with local money, in local languages (the same for protestants, and Muslims, too), and people go to church conferences without per diems or sitting fees. I doubt many of outside actors — condom-distributing NGOs, or whoever — can claim the same, making the church ‘local’ by comparison.

  9. The church isn’t trying to colonize any part of Africa, so it’s fair to say they are anti-colonial. Likwise whoever is exporting the “spiritual toxic waste” isn’t interested in colonies either so its is a bit absurb to call that colonization. If that counts then I suppose England tried to colonize the U.S. with The Beatles.

    1. I think the “new colonialism” refers to the a POWER STRUGGLE and not the the actual building of colonies. The Catholic church is basically saying, “there are other religions taking a large part of the population…let’s get ’em!”

      …also, if you look back in history…it is by far more than NOT fair to call the Catholic church anticolonial. Latin America didn’t make itself mostly Catholic. But, again, this type of new colonialism is about control and not actual colonies.

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