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September 16, 1990     Arkansas Catholic
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September 16, 1990
 

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In Africa- ,Pope's visit highlights Church's John Thavls ambivalence relationship with Songea, Tanzania (CNS) - Praising Allah is not unusual in Tanzania, but it is normally done in mosques - not at a papal Mass. When Pope John Paul II came to the Catholic enclave of Songea in southern Tanzania, he went out of his way to offer "the hand of friendship and love" to the area's Muslim minority. The local bishop, introducing Islamic dignitaries to the pope, had just fmished explaining how Muslims had chipped in to pay for the papal visit. "They, too, believe in one God, whom they call Allah," the bishop said, and the Muslim section erupted in cheers and high-pitched ululating, a form of greeting. The episode highlighted the Church's ambivalent approach to Islam in Africa. While many local Catholics seem to get along well with Muslims, the Vatican recently warned of a po- tential "collision course" between the two religions in Africa. tion groups in Africa, financed by oil- rich Middle Eastern countries. The fear is that a more aggressive strain of Islam will slowly seep into black Africa. The outline for the upcoming Afri- can synod, written at the Vatican on the basis of meetings with African bishops, sounded a warning bell on the issue in June. It said Islam was an im- portant but difficult dialogue partner and spoke of a worldwide Islamic plan to refashion African society "according to Islamic principles." The document suggested that the bishops keep better track of Islamic propagation, its ties to the government and its "external sources of support." Vatican officials frequently voice concern about an Islamic "threat" in Africa. This reflects the view that Islam is the Church's main competitor in evangelizing a continent where a third of the black population still follows traditional, animist beliefs. When the pope travels in sub-Sa- haran Africa, however, he sees a more optimistic picture, and he stresses co- "When it comes to proselytizing, the problem can be on both sides. We sometimes feel too afraid and feel that it is our sole right to evangelize," Bishop Louis Lebulu, president of the Tanza- nian bishops' conference, said. He said that despite what the African synod report says, he has experienced "no problems" with Muslims in his diocese. Said one African priest who works at the Vatican: "The Islamic invasion of Africa is a Western fantasy. That there is a Muslim plan for evangelizing Africa is very true. But let's not forget that African Islam is very different from that of the Middle East." "Just look what happens on there trips: Muslims come to the pope's cer- emonies," he added. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, Ni- geria represents a nightmare scenario from the Catholic point of view. There, Muslims make up half the population and Christian about 40 percent. In 1979, a limited form of Islamic law was adopted, over strong Christian protest, and in 1985 Nigeria joined the Orga- nization of Islamic Conference. Religious intolerance grew, erupting in riots at universities and villages. Today, tensions still simmer, and the bishops are still insisting on a secular state. Its political influence aside, Islam has A m~ Two bo.s 0ra. 0ur,ng a Burundi. Pope John Paul II rece _ visited this African nation, where 60 percent of the population is Cath011c' should be undertaking on behalf of the East," he said. a monP~1 "Neither East nor West has on charism, courage or wisdom. This eW terprise demands equal sacrifice and the commitment of both East and West." J There is special concern at the Vatican about new Muslim evangeliza- operation over conflict, had less success evangelizing Africa than Aboard the plane carrying him to his Christianity. Although statistics vary, "Toussaint," from page 1 He was later freed and bought the fee; dom of Juliette Noel, whom he marrie , 10-day visit to Africa, the pope said he most show that Christianity has grown in 1811. : His owner, John Berard du pith0 ] tolerantthught andAfriCanveryMUSlimSrespectfulWereof "verytheir about1980. 30 percent faster than Islam since died on a return visit to Haiti, i: Christian brothers. "If there is a model Toussaint then secretly supported the , Pithon family for 20 years It was #g fr Christian'Muslim cexistence' it is European [1/luslims that he would put on his valet unif precisely this one," he said. Addressing Muslims in Dar es Sa- Could benefit from t serve the meal fr which he had "i laam, Tanzania, the pope praised rela- Toussaint's parish was St. peterT s,: ]] Church, where O'Connell is pastor. dons between the two religions, which British Catholics area is now Manhattan' 1 each represent about a third of the population in Tanzania. He said In those times the olalY t ~.~,otS~Vh~.,,',P~h Christians and Muslims had a "firmYorkshire, England (CNS)- Catholics in Free Market Analysis foundation on which mutualrespect Britain could be of particular help to Eu- consolation mav have been J and cooperation can be built, ropean Muslim communities because of . ". ~, Before the trip, a.Vatican publication their experiences as a minority, said Car- mn'acles of faith and I had expressed worry about Tanzanian dinal George Basil Hume of Westminster, Indeed for the thousands Muslims who, through financing from England." Iran and Egypt, were nowable to build "One of the particular problems faced viCtllTIS of AIDS, AlzheimerS s by some of these Islamic communities is that I schools and offer tern tin " scholar- their loyalty and national allegiance is 6624 Forblng Rd., LR 72209 P g (1/2 Blk west of Univ.Ave)ships "to young Christianswho are in sometimes questioned, the cardinal said. s danger of losing the faith. "It is perhaps important to recognize that this is not a new problem, at least in this ttlt .~t~ S ~ ~[cuntry'" Cardinal Hume said" "Fhe lyalty [ of the Catholic community was, after all, "----~'-~--~ under suspicion in the 16th, 17th and even 18th Centuries, as was that of Irish Catho- t lics in the last century, and he saw a corresponding i of i .-.. He said he saw potenfia2 for a dialogue blacks at Toussaint's former place ] t N )USI I and "a genuine relationship between British worship, oqisI "' STEAK HOUSE Catholics and Muslims. Toussaint, who died in 1853 at Speaking of a newly unified Europe, he bfiried in the yard of Old St. patOC~io (&) Aaron Ross, ~ I tl I said Christians must have unity among the former cathedral located .,.~ Owner RED CO themselves. Manhattan s Little Ital section. L.. Y _a v, ~l'he churches cannot call on others to body is exhumed, it will be reinterrg~O~ lay aside differences and work for a better the crypt of the present St. patC:pi " Serving the best prime- rib for over l 6 years.. ." [ world ifwe are unwilling to do so ourselves," Cathedr with the former archbiSh t 3 blocks west of NLR Holiday Inn. [ said Cardinal Hume. ~///1~)] Open 5:30-10:00 pm Monday-Thursday [! lil[~ I He added that it was not Western there, O Connell said. , ,he t Europe s task to rebuild East European O'Connell said he was grateful ,~d,, !] ] media had shwn high interest regar" 5:30- 10:30 pm Friday & Saturday countries, recently freed from Communist ing Toussaint, but added that ( "I am convinced it would be a distortion of the intensity of that interest, tla a to: to imagine that the rebuilding of Europe humation probably will not be oPc and its evangelization is a task that the West reporters.