Pope Benedict XVI recently visited Ouidah, Benin to address the public and unveil his most recent exhortation entitled Africae Munus. Upon reviewing the decree and the Pope’s accompanying commentary, the Orisa Community Development Corporation found some of the Pope’s remarks and portions of Africae Munus deeply disturbing, reminiscent of the Catholic Churches’ early rationalization for Christianizing Africa and a startling reminder of the rootedness of negative views on African indigenous religions, including the Orisa tradition. Among other comments, Pope Benedict voiced opposition to the “syncretism” of Catholicism with indigenous religious beliefs, and used descriptive terms such as “occultism” and “evil” in reference to African religions. The tone and tenor of those remarks were devaluing of traditional forms of worship, and implied that the legitimate access to God appears to be the exclusive authority of the Catholicism and Christianity that the Pope represents.
The Orisa CDC, and the orisa devotees it represents, takes exception to these comments and finds the consistent negative portrayal of indigenous traditions worldwide disrespectful, unjust and lacking in humanity. We are drafting a formal response to Africae Munus and Pope Benedict’s remarks which we will release in the coming weeks. We will keep you updated as we progress and hope that we can count on your support as we seek to promote and uphold our traditions. We ask that you notify your networks of our intentions and contact us at info@OrisaCDC.org if you or your organization would like to lend your voice to this effort.