Catholic theology is not just the concepts in force in the western Greco-Latin culture.Father Benezet Bujo, former professor of moral theology and social ethics as well as African theology at the University of Fribourg, recalls in his new book, “The Creed of the Church in dialogue with cultures”.
For the teacher from the Congo (DRC), there is indeed an African way of believing in the God of Jesus Christ, and therefore, there is indeed a Western Christianity and African Christianity: “Christianity that we lives is an interpretation of the Gospel of culture. the West has interpreted its culture so that European Christians to live the Gospel, while Africa received the Gospel already chewed by European culture! “.
The colonial legacy
Remember, he insists that foreign missionaries “working hand in hand with the colonial powers and the Gospel itself was proclaimed in this context soaked prejudice.”
Pope Paul VI was the first pope to visit Africa, and during his famous speech in Kampala , Uganda, in conclusion of the Symposium of Bishops of Africa, he launched July 31, 1969: “Africans, you are now your own missionaries! ” And insist: “You can and you must have an African Christianity.” Welcome support for all those who, like Professor Benezet Bujo, campaigning for Catholic theology is not just the concepts in force in the Greco-Roman Western culture.
Christianity that we live is an interpretation of the Gospel according to culture, and Pope Paul VI, the Second Vatican Council, had already been sensitive to the issue of dialogue with cultures (eg the encyclical “Ecclesiam suam”), recalls Fr. Benezet Bujo, former professor of theology at the University of Freiburg.
Recognized specialist in “African theology” expert invited by Benedict XVI in Rome the Synod on the Eucharist in 2005 and the Synod on Africa in 2009, Professor Bujo continues his work of explaining the Christian faith from the point of for cultivation of black Africa. For him, the colonial policy and the missionary period have not taken sufficient account of the importance of African culture.
Africans were forced to adopt the interpretation of the Gospel message without recourse to their own tradition and worldview, which was long considered “primitive” Western perspective.Blacks were thus forced into how to live, act and think Westerners.
Another way of thinking
In his new book, Professor Bujo, who has already published three volumes of the series”African Theology in the twenty-first century” to Academic Press in Fribourg, continues to seek to explain to the faithful Saharan African profession of faith that the liturgy their offers, especially in the Eucharistic celebrations on Sunday.
To do this, it seemed to him more appropriate to highlight the Apostles’ Creed, the Christian profession in use in the West, the Creed. In his eyes, the Nicene-Constantinople, later adopted at the 325 Nicene Ecumenical Council and completed at the Council of Constantinople in 381, then already marked by philosophical discussions from the Greco-Latin culture.
The Apostles’ Creed is closer to African culture
“The Apostles’ Creed is closer to African culture. He better come to the language and characteristics of African design, closer to that of the Bible. The Nicene-Constantinople contains many concepts of Greco-Roman philosophy that is not found in Africa it does not include, for example when it is said. “the same with the Father” (Latin: consubstantialis). the concepts of “nature and supernatural” does not say much the sub-Saharan Africans, says Professor Bujo.
“For the African, there is no supernatural dichotomy that nature, there is the man, simply. In the African conception, man can not escape from God, all creation is already giving ( and thus grace) of God. the Africans do not understand the Western philosophical concepts “Greek scholastics.” Thus, for the black African culture, to stay in this example, the nature is not corrupted and therefore it has no notion of original sin as in the West. ”
Western philosophical concepts are not included in Africa
Certainly, for the African, baptism makes sense, but not to fix nature. “For us, the failure of a single hommme can not corrupt all the ubuntu , understand humanity in its roots. So the child to be baptized is innocent, but he enters a world where his ancestors have left bad traces that do not promote a healthy atmosphere of ideal life, “says Benezet Bujo.
“Baptism gives the strength to face the difficulties inherent in the life of the three-dimensional community and get closer to the ideal of bumuntu as God wills since the creation.”
Regarding the mystery of the Trinity, the Professor Bujo highlights what he calls “mutual procreation.” “For Africans, we must start from the interpersonal relationship: it’s not ‘I think, therefore I am’, but we exist in relation to others, and therefore, we must engender each other!” This interpersonal relationship of generation / mutual childbirth, thinks Africans must meet in God to explain the three divine persons.
For the African man, notes Professor Bujo, the community is composed of three entities: the living, not the entire reality. They are preceded by the dead (2nd unit), honor, because they link the living to the afterlife. The dead can not live without the love of the living, and – third entity – the not-yet-born. They exist in the mind of God and can be linked with Christ who, from all eternity, was in the bosom of the Father. Father Bujo can rely in this case on the Book of Jeremiah (I, V) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, I have appointed you a prophet to the nations “.
“It is from there that we can develop a Christology: the Son of God, from all eternity in the bosom of the Father, before being in the womb of Mary …” insiste- he said. The “holistic” vision that the author proposes to the African public in his new book is based on the classic theological interpretation, but to query and fill it from the perspective of culture sub-Saharan Africa .
In his book, Benezet Bujo speaks of the God of the ancestors is not opposed to that of Jesus Christ. There are also plans to question the meaning of the realities as the Holy Spirit, the descent into hell, the Church, the communion of saints, the resurrection of the body, eternal life, etc. in the logic of rationality and African context.
Thus the Church, for example, can be entered only from the three dimensions that make up the African family community. Similarly the last judgment will not happen to use the African palaver that is so fundamental in subsahharienne daily life. It’s the same remission of sin where we will design the sacrament of reconciliation in stages, following the model of the African palaver. Professor Bujo does not know how some in Rome will react to his latest work, but notes that it has already written often, “but certainly not to the same extent!” JB
(*) Benezet Bujo “The Creed of the Church in dialogue with cultures – Is there an African way to believe in the God of Jesus Christ?” Academic Press Fribourg 2016, 232 pages.
Benezet Bujo, a former professor of the University of Fribourg
Recognized specialist in “African theology”, Fr. Benezet Bujo was professor of moral theology and social ethics of African theology at the University of Freiburg from 1989 to 2010. A connoisseur of the reality of the black continent, has already published, except his “Introduction to African theology” (Academic Press 2008), three volumes of the series “African theology in the twenty-first century – Some figures” published by Academic Press Fribourg.This collective work, the first two volumes published in 2002 and 2005 were reissued in 2014 and 2015, was supplemented by a third in 2013. All three are also available in English and Portuguese, the two other common foreign languages theology in Africa.
African theology dictionary
The Professor Bujo also involved in drafting the Dictionary of African theology, published by the Association of African Theologians (ATA), for which he wrote two papers on the African community and the African palaver. He wrote in 2007 a detailed position on the African concept of marriage in his book “Plädoyer für ein Modell von Ehe und Sexualität. Afrikanische Anfrage an das westliche Christentum” (Herder Verlag, Freiburg in Breisgau), also available in English . Although retired since 2010, Professor Bujo accompanying thesis as co-director some students at the University of Freiburg and in other high schools in Europe.
Priest of the Diocese of Bunia, north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Professor Bujo studied philosophy and theology in the Congo and Germany. He is author of several books on St. Thomas on intercultural ethics and African Theology.
Initially, the movement of Negritude
The movement of Negritude – including intellectuals like Aimé Césaire (Martinique) and Léopold-Sédar Senghor (Senegal) – and black writers were the first to criticize the “cultural colonialism”. African theologians followed suit not expanding the problematic area of the Christian faith.
Debates on “African theology” have already begun at the end of World War II after the publication of the book “Bantu Philosophy” Father Placide Tempels, a Flemish Franciscan missionary. Having started studying African culture on the ground, speaking of indigenous language, it was concluded that, for Africans, the most important was the action in life, which he called the ” vital force “. This concept refers to the interaction between individual and community action of the individual is vital to the survival of the community and vice versa.
Thus the debate was launched well before independence, mainly in French-speaking, especially with the collective work “The black priests Ask” (1956), and Lovanium University, particularly its Faculty of Theology founded in 1957.
The African theology appeared later in Anglophone Africa
In the 60s, Kinshasa has become the center of African theology, with personalities like Father Vincent Mulago Gwa Cikala Musharhamina, professor Lovanium. He founded the African Religions Studies Centre (CERA) and the magazine Cahiers African religions. First Congolese appointed professor at the University, including the Faculty of Theology of the University Lovanium, who was called the father of the “Bantu philosophy” died today (see study theology in Vol. I African Theology edited by Bujo / Ilunga, Academic Press 2002/2014). At the time of African independence, Kinshasa was the only Catholic Theological Faculty in all Africa!
Research on African theology has appeared later in the Anglophone world, especially with the Kampala-Gaba Catholic Pastoral Institute (API-GABA), Uganda, founded in 1967. (apic / be)