to UPA allegations
RECENT statements published in Rome have criticised the Portuguese Hierarchy in the Angolan dioceses for treating the African clergy as "second class" priests. The memorandum, distributed to the Vatican Council Fathers, came from Leopoldville in the Congo, and was promulgated by the rebel UPA movement which instigated the uprising of 1961.
A statement has now been issued by Archbishop Alves de Pinho of Luanda, Angola, in which he flatly denies the memorandum's assertion that the African priests are known as "auxiliary clergy". Those who have lived in Angola for many years, he says,. can bear witness that they have never heard such an expression.
In support of his contention that African and European priests live on an equal footing, the Archbishop declares: "The two chief members of the Curia, the Vicar General and the Chancellor, are both African priests. In the Metropolitan Chapter, three of the Canons are Africans, one of whom is the Dean, and four are European. Of five religious professors in state schools in Luanda, three are European and two are African."
Professors and staff in the seminary arc in roughly equal racial proportions. The same is true of the students. African and European seminarians have always been educated in the same seminaries in Portuguese Africa. All schools, in fact. are fully integrated.
While the salaries and expenses paid to native clergy is very low, says the Archbishop, this is because of the poverty of the archdiocese. and the European and African clergy receive exactly the same African candidates to the priesthood have firet preference when it comes to choosing those who are to be Sent to Rome for higher studies, their expenses are mostly paid by the Portuguese Government.
The memorandum also charged that the Hierarchy had not condemned any abuses in Angola. The Archbishop repliee by pointing to a number of statements and pastoral letters issued by the Bishops. (He could also have pointed • to a long series of episcopal satements in Portuguese Africa, extending over many years, some of which have played a direct part in the correction of abuses in the labour system. These improvements have been evidenced by the findings of the International Labour Organisation's 1962 enquiry).
Finally, the Archbishop states: "From my last pastoral visit, before I came to 'Rome for the Council, to the regions where there had been disturbances, I can testify that the population is returning to its normal way of life. I was warmly received. '
He adds that the terrorist UPA started activities in Northern Angola in 1961 with the murder of an Italian Capuchin priest and an African teacher who was with him, Another Italian Capuchin was murdered shortly afterwards, as also were other Catholic teachers and catechists.
AJOINT Pastoral emphasising the role of the laity in the Church, and dealing with the responsibilities of Catholics in the newly-developing countries, together with the urgent need for informed Catholic Action, has been published by the Bishops of the Upper Volta Republic. Dealing with the role of the laity, the first part of the Pastoral stresses that "the responsibilities of the faithful are not the same as those of members of the clergy. Nevertheless, they have other duties, which are no less important for the building up of the body of Christ. If they should fail therein. the Church would suffer thereby just as much as if the priests performed their duties inadequately". The second part of the letter attaches particular importance to the role of Christians in the towns "tit a time when class distinctions arc becoming more and more manifest".
"In our newly independent countries in Africa," the Bishops say, "men from the wealthier classes have most of the political and economic responsibility. Only they have completed the studies which enable them' to shoulder these responsibilities in modern civil isation.
"They must work out how to Organise their country politically. socially and economically as a function of the real common good. This in its turn demand first of all that the living standards of the poorest, and especially that of the rural population, be raised."
Quoting several passages from Mater et Magistra, the bishops add: "A last point summarises all the rest: there should be a community apostolate".
The pastoral ends with an urgent plea for an organised laity. "Just as the clergy are organised as a complete 'whole' " the bishops conclude, "so the Christian laity needs to be built up to fill its place and play its part in the same spheres . . . The role of Catholic Action is to make an apostolic community of laymen united with:their priests and to the hierarchy."
The letter. which runs to 100 pages, is accompanied by a questionnaire intended "to aid personal reflection and group study". About 151,000 of the country's 3,500,000 inhabitants are baptised Catholics, and there are a further 62,400 catechumens.
MISSIONARY Sisters of the Order of St. Paul of Chartres, which was banned from Choquan hospital in South Vietnam by a secularist government in 1905, have now returned to the country, and six nuns have taken over the management of the hospital.
The hospital, which is situated in the middle of a huge built-up area at the junction of Saigon and Choquan, cares for lepers, mental patients and sick prisoners. It dates from the beginning of the French occupation.
THE number of Catholics in
African territories under the jurisdiction of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith more than doubled between 1949 and 1961. Figures released in Rome by Fides news service showed that in 1949 there were 10,999,552 Catholics in these areas and in 1961 the figure was 22,048,376.