Friday, 29 June 2012


"This is the new form of idolatry and even slavery, the worship of one's self, of one's physical attributes, the worship of one's intellectual attributes, the worship of one's material possessions, the worship of power and the worship of pleasures at any costs.

"Today, we live in a world where every minute of our lives is only for our own self-indulgence and self-aggrandisement. We seem to have become only selfish and self-centred, forgetting that there is something more to life than what is here and now. We even bring up our children to this way of self-indulgence and self-adulation."

Those were the words from the Archbishop of Accra, The Most Rev Charles Palmer-Buckle as he preached the homily on Sunday 24th July 2012 to thousands of Catholics gathered in the National Arena to celebrate 500 years of Christianity in Jamaica. The Jamaica Gleaner has a great article on the event dated Friday June 29th 2012 written by writen by Peter Espeut.

It was a good homily and a good day - a good way to celebrate 50 years of Independence, and 500 years of Christianity in Jamaica.

In a public lecture at the Institute of Jamaica the following day, under the auspices of the African-Caribbean Institute of Jamaica, the archbishop revealed that the Catholic Church was growing exponentially in Ghana and in Africa as a whole.

He advised that when he became a bishop, there were nine dioceses in Ghana; now there are 19, and one Apostolic Vicariate. There are several hundred Ghanaian young men currently in training as priests in his country, and he promised to send some to Jamaica to help out with our shortage.

He explained the dramatic increase in numbers in terms of the church's evangelisation strategy, using large numbers of well-trained catechists to spread the word and to teach in the outlying villages. The church has been successful in making the Word of God incarnate in African culture by Christianising traditional African rites of birth, circumcision and puberty. Catholic worship was fully African, with drumming, dancing and singing, as well as prayer and meditation. Archbishop Palmer-Buckle explained that they have moved to the next step, which is to Africanise their theology - not new in its essential content but new in its expression.

Africa has had dozens of Catholic political leaders, including Kwame Nkrumah, John Evans Atta Mills (the present president of Ghana), and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. In fact, Nyerere was a deeply devout man, whose cause for sainthood is being actively pursued in Rome.

Did you know that Marcus Garvey was a Catholic?

Peter Espeut is a sociologist and Roman Catholic deacon. Email feedback to

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