Manual Women and New and Africana Religions (Women and Religion in the World)

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Contents:
  1. Most Recent
  2. Religion: why faith is becoming more and more popular
  3. Religion: why faith is becoming more and more popular | News | The Guardian
  4. Titles in this series
  5. Religion: why faith is becoming more and more popular

The same could be said of our beds. Hyenas and leopards that roamed too near to us often disturbed our nights, and broke our much needed sleep. Meyer, , p. Resources, too, were scarce; for example, because there was no indoor plumbing, sisters had to walk to the river for water, so that it took half a day just to wash their clothes and other items.

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Despite their great sacrifices, the construction of a new cultural narrative disfigured African culture, fracturing the sociocultural fabric and changing the role of women in society. It has taken decades for women to define themselves and develop a voice in their differing cultural, educational and religious portraits. Understanding the role and place of an African woman in society provides a basis of understanding for what African girls had to leave behind to enter religious life in the newly-formed congregations. Conceivably, Western culture and religion altered the place of a woman in the society.

Traditionally in Africa, girls were socialized to become active producers culturally, economically, socially and politically. Unwritten cultural norms were observed and perpetuated through sharing lived experiences. For example, the life of every girl child was nurtured in preparation for marriage: she was to bring forth a family. Further, the purpose of a woman was not only to give life through child bearing, but also to nourish and protect her children tenaciously — she protected and nurtured her family. The traditional initiation rites conducted at puberty were the school of instruction that provided her with practical knowledge and competence leading her to take on new responsibilities as a mother, not only to her maternal children but also to the community.

It was typical that the role a woman played was that of an educator, transmitting knowledge and morals and introducing her children to the norms of the community. As a mother, her role was fundamental for the biological, physical, psychological, moral, social, and religious maturation of her children.

Sister Wirba posits that a woman was perceived as a counselor and an influential adviser to the husband, but was to remain silent and distinct in the public arena. Culturally, progress in age elevated a woman to the level of a consultant to the family and community. Elderly women were respected and were seen as people of integrity and enablers in the permeation and preservation of African values through oral literature, stories and songs.

They taught girls in the process of initiation which culturally every individual had to undergo. According to Ferraro , culture is everything that people have, do, and think as members of the society. African people had an organized social system prior to encountering European missionaries.

This encounter created a cultural paradigm shift, altering societal fabric — its norms, beliefs and practices.

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In addition, missionary encounters exposed African women to a new cultural complexity that changed the morphology, and the place and role, of women in society. Second, family ceased to be the center of religious and moral education; instead, catechism classes, school and churches were the places where teachings and values were inculcated. Scherer adds that, as a rule:. Seemingly, missionaries brought formal Western education, medical care and agricultural methods, to name but a few.

In relation to cultural concerns, Ross argues on the importance of creating a shared cultural cognition, which could lead to cultural awareness and competence. In this view, the Catholic Church introduced inculturation so as to foster dialogue by listening to both Christian and African cultures and to engrain aspects of African culture in liturgical practices.

Examination of cultural elements that can be engrained in religious life and practices is necessary. Second, when temporary vowed religious are taking perpetual vows, some institutes have integrated cultural rituals. This practice, though negated by some institutes, can be an area for inculturation — for incorporation of Christian and African values practices — as it entwines a sister with her culture and community.

Finally, sisters assume roles in their communities as teachers, nurses, and social and pastoral care agents; in these roles, they continue their responsibility as enshrined and practiced by the African woman to be a counselor, infuser of morals, healer, adviser and educator. Missionary intention in founding African orders.

Although the need for agents of evangelization was evident early on, there is no evidence that European missionary sisters welcomed African girls into religious life enthusiastically.

It is possible that cultural perceptions and the lack of formal education may have thwarted such considerations. In another example, Consolata Missionary Sisters came to Africa from Italy in ; however, they did not set up a novitiate in Africa until the s.

Religion: why faith is becoming more and more popular

It is not within the scope of this chapter to explain why recruitment of native people into the majority of European congregations did not take place prior to s; however, it is a compelling point. Perhaps racial undertones propelled by imperialism prevalent in the era could offer some inkling of a reason. Powerful symbol: witnessing through presence. Nonetheless, missionary sisters were routinely engaged in providing services to the local communities at orphanages, in village visitations, in teaching and in nursing Wirba, In these settings, they encountered girls who admired their ministry.

Their religious habits and the provision of healthcare had magical effects: theirs was a healing that won souls to Christianity.

Religion: why faith is becoming more and more popular | News | The Guardian

Girls desired to emulate her; they dressed like her and aspired to bring healing to the sick, and to reverse the high maternal and infant mortality rate, even though these girls lacked education and knowledge of nursing. Girls pleaded with her to welcome them to become Sisters.

Certainly, formation of religious institutes was an unintended consequence of missionary presence in Africa, albeit a worthwhile one. These examples illustrate the impact of the missionaries on African girls; through their presence, they heard the voice of God and persistently wanted to respond. This conviction can be described as an intense inner desire that is only known and experienced by the individual.

If these girls were worthy to receive the gospel, they consequently had a right to share in a call to Christian holiness. Challenges to espousal of religious life by African girls. Thus, conflict between religion and culture was mundane. As such, some parents resisted the baptism and Christianization of girls Baur, so as to maintain their cultural framework. The story of Edwina, a Tanzanian girl who wanted to enter religious life, illustrates this struggle. Her father caught up with her after she had eloped to enter the convent.

Why have you done this? Elderly sisters share touching and heartbreaking stories about how family severed relationships with them upon their entering religious life. To this day some African parents, though faithful churchgoers, repudiate religious life for their children.

Radical separation of these girls from their families was one of the toughest realities they had to endure as postulants. The stories of African women religious continue to unfold, calling researchers to embark on a historical journey to narrate this story. Western and African women missionaries have played a significant role in evangelization, whether they are acknowledged or not. The need to engage native women in missionary endeavor was timely when it finally began to unfold in the s.

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The attitude of the Church propelled the foundation of indigenous orders. The Church recognized that successful evangelization required the presence of natives; for the missions to succeed, this was conditio sine qua non. It was a new awakening, particularly for the African Church.

Titles in this series

Consequently, it shaped the role and place of Catholic sisters in the missions and foundations of indigenous religious in Africa. The Maximum Illud was the first church document to recognize and encourage the formation of native clergy and, by extension, Catholic sisters. Pope Benedict XV stressed in Rerum Ecclesiae that the church cannot be appropriately established in new territories unless an educated and properly trained native clergy are part of the process.

Certainly, the value of native clergy in instilling the faith in the minds of their people cannot be overstated. Pope Pius XI further emphasized the need for the formation of native clergy in his papal encyclical Rerum Ecclesiae , in which he asked:. How can the Church among the heathens be developed today unless it be built of those very elements out of which our own churches were built … unless it be made up of people, clergy, and religious orders of men and women recruited from the native populations of the several regions.

Rerum Ecclesiae , , You ought to consider the founding of religious congregations of men and women made of natives to be one of the principal duties of your holy office. Is it not meant that these newly born followers of Christ be able to follow a life of evangelical perfection if they feel themselves called to make the vow of religion? The directive signaled papal approval for the foundation of indigenous orders.

Missionary sisters stood at hand to direct formation programs. However, questions remained.

Religion: why faith is becoming more and more popular

Were the African girls ready and well prepared, educationally and spiritually, to enter religious life? Would missionary sisters accept these girls as full members into their congregations? These questions require further historical exploration. It is certain, however, that God works in, and through, those who are called to shape them into his disciples, but not without their cooperation.

Despite many hiccups during and in the process of the founding of indigenous congregations, religious life is thriving in Africa. Certainly, it is important to note that women religious are the largest body that sustains the Catholic Church in service, and it is a body that also supports the government by serving in remote areas while running ministries at the grassroots levels.

One category of social hostilities has increased substantially — hostilities related to religious norms for example, harassment of women for violating religious dress codes — driving much of the overall rise in social hostilities involving religion. By one specific measure, in , 91 countries experienced some level of violence due to tensions between religious groups, but by that number dropped to 57 countries.

These trends suggest that, in general, religious restrictions have been rising around the world for the past decade, but they have not been doing so evenly across all geographic regions or all kinds of restrictions. The level of restrictions started high in the Middle East-North Africa region, and is now highest there in all eight categories measured by the study. This big-picture view of restrictions on religion comes from a decadelong series of studies by Pew Research Center analyzing the extent to which governments and societies around the world impinge on religious beliefs and practices.

Researchers annually comb through more than a dozen publicly available, widely cited sources of information, including annual reports on international religious freedom by the U. State Department and the U. Commission on International Religious Freedom, as well as publications by a variety of European and UN bodies and several independent, nongovernmental organizations.

See Methodology for more details on sources used in the study. Due to the availability of the source material and the time it takes to code, each annual Pew Research Center report looks at events that took place about 18 months to two years before its publication. For example, this report covers events that occurred in The studies are part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, which analyzes religious change and its impact on societies around the world.

The previous reports have focused largely on year-over-year change, but this 10th report provides an opportunity for a broader look back at how the situation has changed around the world — and, more specifically, in particular regions and in countries — over the length of the study. Also for the first time this year, researchers have broken down the two main, point indexes used in the study — the Government Restrictions Index GRI and the Social Hostilities Index SHI — into four categories each.

The categories can help give readers a sense of what goes into the broader GRI and SHI scores, and they also are useful when comparing countries that have similar overall scores but very different situations within their borders. France scores low in the category of government favoritism, while Qatar scores much higher Islam is the official state religion, according to the constitution.

And while Qatar scores lower on government harassment of religious groups, France has higher scores in this category, which includes enforcing restrictions on religious dress. France continues to enforce a national ban on full-face coverings in public, and local authorities also impose various restrictions that mostly affect Muslim women.