Die Website der afrikanische katholische Gemeinden in Nordrhein-Westfalen.


The African Catholic Immigrant and the Challenges

The African Catholic Immigrant and the Challenges of Remaining Catholic in Europe


It is the trend these days to hear the African immigrants in Europe (my focus is specifically on Germany) express their catholic identity in the following manner: “I was born a catholic but the European situation has made it impossible for me to attend the Roman Catholic Church”. Others indicate their loss of interest in or indifference to catholic values and tradition when they mention that: “my child is 8 years old and yet to be baptized, anyway he will do that when he decides”. Some of them even argue strongly the notion that all churches are the same and one can worship the same God everywhere. For them, denomination does not matter anymore; where they go for service on Sundays is of little importance. It does not matter any longer that they have not received the Holy Communion for 20 years.

The fact that they no longer understand the necessity of the sacrament of reconciliation is not disturbing any more. Their catholicity is reduced to their being born Catholics and to having catholic parents and roots at home. One is forced to consider this trend, address its causes and propose remedies. That is the subject of this study. I start with a description of what it means to be catholic. This is followed by a discussion of the catholic tradition in Africa. The challenges or should I say the obstacles responsible for the African catholic immigrants’ inability to practice their faith and the effects of such obstacles will be addressed. Finally, proposals and suggestions are made on how the African catholic immigrant can remain catholic even in Europe. The limited space I have for this write up does not afford me the opportunity for a detailed study. As a result, most of the discussions will be sketchy. In this regard, I plead for the understanding of the reader.

What does it mean to be a catholic? Catholicism is a rich and diverse reality. It is a Christian tradition, a way of life, and a community. That is to say, it is comprised of faith, theologies, and doctrines and is characterized by specific liturgical, ethical, and spiritual orientations and behaviors; at the same time, it is a people, or cluster of peoples, with a particular history (McBrien 1994: 3). In other words, Catholicism has its systematic theology; it has its body of doctrines; its liturgical life, especially the Eucharist; its variety of spiritualities; its religious congregations and lay apostolates; its official teachings on justice, peace, and human rights; its exercise of collegiality; and its Petrine ministry (McBrien 1994: 9). The point is that Catholicism is distinguishable. It can be defined, described and separated from what it is not. Such expressions as something like Catholicism, the same as Catholicism, similar to Catholicism, etc. become ubiquitous here. Catholicism is what it is and nothing else. Catholicism is so distinguishable that “there is a particular configuration of characteristics within Catholicism that is not duplicated anywhere else in the community of Christian churches” (McBrien 1994: 9). Take, for instance, its understanding of, and practical commitment to, the three basic principles of sacramentality, mediation, and communion which cannot be found in other Christian churches.

That the Catholic Church is sacramental means that she is a visible sign of an invisible grace (i.e. a visible sign of divine presence). This sacramental perspective of the Catholic Church makes her “a reality imbued with the hidden presence of God” (Paul VI), and allows her to see God in all things such as in other people, communities, places, the world at large, etc. (St. Ignatius Loyola). It is in and through the material realities of our life and environment that we can encounter the invisible God. The principle of mediation consists in the acknowledgement that “the encounter with God is a mediated experience rooted in the historical, and affirmed as real by the critical judgment that God is truly present and active here or there, in this event or that, in this person or that, in this object or that” (McBrien 1994: 11). That is to say that the sacraments not only signify the divine presence, they also cause what they signify. God actually achieves something in and through the actions of the sacraments. Again, the principle of mediation indicates that God’s dealings with us are not arbitrary but organized and structured.

The ministries in the Catholic Church are an indication of this. Of course, the evidence of the ministries does not limit God who is present to all and works on behalf of all, but indicates that there are moments and actions in which God’s presence can especially be felt, lived and experienced. The principle of communion implies that “even when the divine-human encounter is most personal and individual, it is still communal, in that the encounter is made possible by the mediation of a community of faith” (McBrien 1994: 12). Our way to God is a communal way. It is a way that emphasizes the communion of saints and people of God. We are not alone in belief. To be catholic, therefore, is to belong to this Christian tradition, to this way of life and to such a community of faith that uphold and recognize these distinguishing characteristics of the catholic faith. It is to be practically committed to the three basic principles of sacramentality, mediation, and communion as well as other principles of the catholic faith. It is to be “a kind of human being, a kind of religious person, and a kind of Christian belonging to a specific Eucharistic faith-community within the worldwide, or ecumenical, Body of Christ” (cf. McBrien 1994: 6).

It is to be “effected by the bonds of professed faith, of the sacraments, of ecclesiastical government, and of communion” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, n. 14). It is to be under the authority of the successor of St. Peter, the pope. The above picture highlights the fact that not every church or denomination can be catholic and not even every Christian will be catholic. Consequently, one cannot defend the thesis that all churches are the same since not all churches are structured in the same manner, characterized by the same body of doctrines, share the same beliefs, and recognize the Bishop of Rome to be “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity of the bishops and of the multitude of the faithful”, as the Catholic Church does. For a catholic, then, membership in the Catholic Church is indispensable if one is not to lose touch with one’s catholic roots, values and traditions. This membership, however, cannot be limited to registration alone, but is especially expressed through active participation in the life and activities of the Catholic Church. Catholic Tradition in Africa It is this active participation in the life and activities of the Catholic Church through membership and living of the sacraments that characterizes African Catholicism. The term African Catholicism is not an indication that there is an African Catholicism different from the universal Catholicism, but only an expression of the fact that there can be no universal church in the absence of local churches. So, African Catholicism describes “the unique expression and complex performance of the African church within Roman Catholicism” (Katongole 2011: 128).

In other words, the universality of Catholicism is lived in an African manner in African Catholicism. There is no denying the fact that the church plays a central role in the life of the African. An African Catholic theologian Katongole mentions that African Catholics live, work, and play within a religious environment. They are accordingly very much at home in a world of rituals, mysticism, sacraments, healing, exorcism, devotion, sacrifice, and prayer as a way of securing and sustaining the everyday interaction between the spiritual and material world. The full range of liturgical expression through music and dancing also bears witness to this reality of embodiment (Katongole 2011: 137). Embodiment here refers to the refusal to separate the realities of body and soul, the physical and the spiritual. Furthermore, he maintains that: “African Catholicism is not only a Sunday experience since it is as much about schools, health care, hospitals, development projects as it is about prayer and sacraments. This interaction between material and spiritual realities on a daily basis makes African Catholicism both dynamic and vibrant, and the catholic parish a hub, a meeting point of bodily and spiritual concerns and realities” (Katongole 2011: 137). So, the African takes his relationship with God to be a significant defining factor of his existence. That the church plays a central role in the life of the African can be seen in the fact that children’s baptisms, confirmations and wedlock are celebrated as and when due.

The youths have their places and roles in the church (umu mary – young catholic girls association; and umu youth – young catholic boys association) and are actively involved in living and practicing their faith. Christian mothers and fathers are organized and have their rules and regulations, and duties in the local churches. The case of the catholic women is worth mentioning. Katongole (2011: 137) identifies the Christian Catholic Women as “those devout women, looking after their homes and families, often in the absence of the husband, and managing to raise and educate the children. They are the pillars, not only of society, but also of the African church, in their care for the local church, in their involvement in its worship, in its leadership on the parish council, in their involvement in lay movements and associations, and even by their regularity in attendance”. It is, thus, unthinkable in Africa to see a catholic mother not attending the liturgical celebrations of the church or engaging in activities detrimental to the well-being of the church. It is mostly their visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and their membership and engagement in devotional activities of the Catholic Church that have sustained their families spiritually and brought blessings to their children. But this practice is waning here in Europe.

One finds mothers convincing their husbands to stay home on Sundays and take the children out on picnics, or refusing to attend liturgical celebrations on the pretense of not feeling well or because they are working. Some kick against devotions as waste of time and too much engagement with the spiritual. It is now difficult to find families that pray together, read the Bible together, and talk about God in the presence of their children. Even the prayers before and after meals are neglected. Thus, one loses touch daily with the catholic values and traditions. Again, in African Catholicism, the mothers constitute the beacons of morality given that it is difficult to witness a catholic mother dressing indecently to the extent of exposing her breasts in the public. It is unfortunate that some African catholic mothers in Europe no longer pay attention to such details. I cannot conclude this section without mentioning the fact that the religiosity with which the African approaches every aspect of his life is mostly missing in Europe. For example, the African Catholic wants to be prayed for during her pregnancy, at the moment of birth and after birth. She wants to be received together with her child on her first day in Church after birth (ikuba nwa n’ulo uka).

She loves to be visited at home by family, friends, and community members after birth in order to celebrate the goodness of the Lord. When she is sick, she does not simply believe in going to the hospital, she equally wants her pastor and church members to pray for her and offer masses on her behalf for divine healing. When she is visited by calamities, whether human or spiritual, she wants her pastor and the members of her community to pray for her and possibly visit her at home to cleanse her environment of the evil spirits responsible for such attacks. For the African, some sicknesses have natural causes while some others are the effects of spiritual attacks. When she is bereaved, she wants to be visited by relatives and friends who will stay with and accompany her during the period of her bereavement. The European might not understand this attitude to life and to the spiritual world, and might be helpless pastorally when confronted with such realities. Thus, when Africans lose sense of their catholic roots and tradition and forego visiting German masses, for instance, it is partly because these elements of their relationship to the spiritual world are missing in the German art of worship and European Catholicism. It is because they are confronted with challenges which tend to overstretch their patience, interest and zeal. It is to some of these challenges that I now turn my attention.

The Challenges The problem of space will not allow me to discuss the many challenges confronting African catholic immigrants in the practice of their catholic faith in Europe. I will rather mention four significant ones. The first is the language barrier. With Germany still our point of departure in this study, one cannot ignore the fact that most African immigrants are confronted with a language difficult to understand and hence are not able to follow the liturgical celebrations despite the similarities of catholic structures. At the point of arrival, the zeal to carry on with the catholic faith, traditions and values, especially regular attendance at Mass, is strong. But, owing to the difference in language, one finds oneself attending the liturgical celebrations and going back with nothing. The situation is such that one is unable to sing with others, respond with others, laugh with others when the priest says something funny, and appreciate the message of the gospel with others. The feeling of belonging to a worshipping community vanishes and one finds oneself alone and isolated in the midst of a community. Understandably, the interest to attend such celebrations will vanish with time.

A second and related challenge is the feeling of inferiority complex arising from being in the minority. People have narrated their experiences of having, at one point or the other, to struggle with the reality of being the only black person in a community of white people and how they were viewed more as intruders than as worshippers. Of course, a tremendous change of attitude is evident in citizen-immigrant relationship in the last decades but that does not in any way negate the fact that one feels more at home among one’s own people. The psychological and attitudinal implications of feeling alone in the midst of a community are often too much for some African catholic immigrants and can lead to decisions inimical to the practice of their catholic faith. The third significant challenge is the question of the art of worship which is remarkably different. The African is more expressive in his relationship with God given that he readily expresses his emotions, moods, and is given to celebration. He easily claps his hands, sings on top of his voice, dances to the music in the church and expresses his joy at being alive and being able to worship God. That is to say that the African celebrates his unique relationship with God made possible in Jesus Christ. So, any liturgical celebration devoid of these expressive elements becomes boring, unfulfilling, and unattractive.

The fact of economic considerations overshadowing religious ones constitutes another significant obstacle to the African catholic immigrant’s practice of his faith in Europe. The drive to be successful financially has resulted in many African catholic immigrants working on Sundays. Priority is now given more to working on Sundays than to going to Mass on Sundays. Naturally, the inability to overcome these challenges is not without its negative effects. The Effects In the event that the above challenges are not effectively met, the direct consequences include: a gradual but steady erosion of the consciousness of Catholicism; decline in the reception of the sacraments of the Church; and the strong influx to the Pentecostal churches.

The erosion of the consciousness of Catholicism is evident in at least two significant ways. First is the African catholic immigrant’s newly found love for the argument that all churches are the same and that it is, after all, the same God who is being worshipped and adored. This argument does not subsist, as I have taken time above to establish. Secondly, one encounters today a host of half-baked Catholics unable to introduce their children to their catholic faith, incapable of articulating and defending what they believe, and not in position to carry out the Christian mandate of preaching the gospel to the whole world (Mk. 16:15). This break in generational transmission of the catholic faith is the reason for the growing number of African immigrants’ children who believe in nothing and exhibit no love for catholic values and tradition.

The devastating effects on Catholicism can best be imagined. The second direct consequence we mentioned above is the decline in the reception and celebration of the sacraments of the Church. Children’s baptism has declined with parents leaving the decision for their children or avoiding taking such a decision till the last moment. Some African catholic parents are comfortable these days living outside wedlock, a tendency which most Catholics in Africa try to avoid. It is no longer strange to find African catholic parents who are yet to receive the sacrament of confirmation. Though the inability to receive these sacraments is not a religious crime in itself, one finds a shift in the religious attitude and consciousness of African catholic immigrants in contrast to their counterparts in Africa. The third direct consequence is the strong influx of African catholic immigrants to the Pentecostal churches. This trend is a cause for concern. Pentecostalism of African art in Europe is characterized by its lack of visible structures, established leadership, and body of doctrines. Economic reasons are often the motivation for the establishment of churches by Africans in Europe and leadership roles are sometimes assigned as a means of quieting dissenting voices.

It is not my intention to disparage the good works sometimes accomplished in and by these Pentecostal churches: they are at times the only possibilities for religious worship and service for African catholic immigrants. And it would be unrealistic to deny the fact that some of them have found fulfillment for their religious and spiritual needs in these churches. The point, however, remains that these churches should not be seen as the equivalents of Catholic Churches or as accomplishing the role and functions of the Catholic Church in the life of Catholics. For instance, they cannot celebrate valid sacraments and for the African Catholic, the valid celebration of the sacraments is strongly desired. African Catholics want to baptize their children, have them confirmed, and attend their weddings when the time comes. They want to be able to confess their failings, and attend Eucharistic celebrations with the hope of eventually receiving the Holy Communion. They want their sick ones to benefit from the catholic pastoral care of the sick, to be anointed by the priest and to be pastorally accompanied at their last moments. These roles cannot be validly and effectively accomplished in the Pentecostal churches. Whatever arguments one might proffer, the place and role of the Catholic Church in the life of Catholics of whatever origins cannot be taken up by the Pentecostal churches.

The search for solutions must be taken elsewhere and that is the subject of the next section. Proposals and Suggestions I have in mind two proposals which would go a long way in addressing the downward trend and indifferent attitude of African catholic immigrants to Catholicism. The first proposal refers to what the host community needs to do and the second consists in what the African catholic immigrants must contribute to such a revival project. The first proposal is this: the host community (in this case the Catholic Bishops Conference of Germany) needs to create room for a place in Europe where the African Catholic could live his African Catholicism. As we have pointed out above, African Catholicism is not fundamentally different from European Catholicism or Roman Catholicism, as the case may be, but is more expressive and comprehensive in contrast to the more reticent mode of European worship. Already, African catholic communities are being established in different Dioceses in Germany but because the German Bishops Conference is yet to officially acknowledge the existence and necessity of these communities, some Dioceses are withdrawn in their attitude towards these African catholic communities. There are, of course, exceptions. For instance, the pastoral care for foreigners in the diocese of Münster is commendable and constitutes an example of what the German Catholic Bishops can accomplish in this regard. Let it be observed that the reason for African catholic communities is not to isolate African catholic immigrants from German Catholics. It is rather primarily to strengthen the former in their faith and thus prepare them for meaningful integration in their host German (catholic) communities. Hence, the activities in the African catholic communities should not be limited to liturgical celebrations and pastoral care alone.

The possibilities for learning the German language, understanding the German state and how it functions, appreciating one’s obligations to the state, integration into the German catholic communities, etc. must be coordinated, organized, and effectively executed by African catholic communities. In other words, these communities must not only be able to undertake pastoral activities together with their German catholic hosts such as preparations for baptism and confirmations, pilgrimages, liturgical celebrations on feast days/anniversaries, etc. but they should also be in position to organize seminars on immigrants’ relationships to/with the state, government officials, insurance companies, school officials, etc. in an understandable language and manner. Thus, the duties and functions of African catholic communities must go beyond the religious to the political, psychological and behavioral attitudes of African catholic immigrants. It is no longer disputable that a deepening of the faith among African Catholics in Europe has become a matter of necessity. This can best be accomplished in and through African catholic communities wherein a more enthusiastic and expressive form of religious practice, the catechetical experience of sharing religious views through small groups, and the input of the catholic charismatic renewal which is of great importance to the African catholic will have significant roles to play. But it is not enough to have a place of worship where the African could worship and celebrate the Liturgy in an African manner. And this motivates my second proposal: the African must be ready to utilize such an opportunity. What do I mean by that? The growth of the catholic faith in Africa can be traced not only to the work of Western missionaries but also to the input of local evangelists who worked either as translators or catechists The important point here is that the catholic faith in Africa is defined by the self-sacrificing and hardworking attitude of African catechists in spreading the good news and the faith.

These African catechists are the unsung heroes of African Catholicism for most local congregations depend on the pastoral leadership of the catechist. Katongole’s observation in this regard is instructive. He implies that the image of the village catechist is that of one who “not only provides the necessary link between the community and the priest but is the recognized pastoral leader and in many ways the agent of conversion for many African Catholics” (Katongole 2011:135). For example, he prepares candidates for first Holy Communion and confirmation, teaches catechumens, visits the sick, informs the priest of those in need of anointing, etc. Think of the good we shall be doing as African Catholics in Europe if we can identify our brothers and sisters in need and attend to them, if we can understand the dictates of our catholic faith and teach them to others, if we could visit our sick, bereaved and lonely ones and console them, if we can allow the love of God and human feelings to guide our relationship with others. Imagine what good we shall accomplish if we could all become catechists dedicated to winning and preserving souls for God. Conclusion What a joy it will be when African catholic immigrants will not need to look for places where they could practice their African Catholicism; when their children will not have to worry about receiving the sacraments of baptism and confirmation when due; when parents of African origin will not have to live outside of wedlock when it is their desire to receive the sacrament of matrimony; when an African catholic immigrant need no longer be anxious of losing his catholic roots. That time is nearer than most of us think.

African catholic communities have come to stay. But we must all work together to make the project of establishing and maintaining these communities a successful one. References McBrien, R. P. 1994, Catholicism, New York: HarperCollins Publishers. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 14. Katongole, E. 2011, “Africa” in James J. Buckley et. Al. (eds.), Blackwell Companion to Catholicism, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., pp. 127 – 142. Rev. Fr. Victor Anoka African Catholic Community, Bielefeld

Year of Faith till Nov,2013



During the Year of Faith special acts of penance will be rewarded with the gift of Sacred Indulgences.

On the day of the 50th anniversary of the solemn opening of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, to which Blessed John XXIII “entrusted the principal task to guard and present better the precious deposit of Christian doctrine in order to make it more accessible to the Christian faithful and to all people of good will” (John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, 11 October 1992: AAS 86 [1994] 113), the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI established the inauguration of a Year dedicated in particular to the profession of true faith and its correct interpretation, with the reading of, or rather, with devout meditation on the Acts of the Council and on the Articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published by Blessed John Paul II, 30 years after the opening of the Council, “in order that all the Christian faithful might better adhere to it, and to promote knowledge and application of it” (ibid. n. 114). In the year of the Lord 1967, to commemorate the 19th centenary of the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul, a similar Year of Faith was proclaimed by the Servant of God Paul VI, “intended to show, by an authentic and sincere profession of the same faith, how much the essential content that for centuries has formed the heritage of all believers needs to be confirmed, understood and explored ever anew, so as to bear consistent witness in historical circumstances very different from those of the past” (Benedict XVI, Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, n. 4). In our time of profound change to which humanity is subjected, the Holy Father Benedict XVI, by proclaiming this second Year of Faith, wishes to invite the People of God, whose universal Pastor he is, as well as his brother Bishops from all over the world “to join the Successor of Peter, during this time of spiritual grace that the Lord offers us, in recalling the precious gift of faith” (ibid., n. 8). All the faithful will be given “the opportunity to profess our faith in the Risen Lord... in our cathedrals and in the churches of the whole world; in our homes and among our families, so that everyone may feel a strong need to know better and to transmit to future generations the faith of all times. Religious communities as well as parish communities, and all ecclesial bodies old and new, are to find a way, during this Year, to make a public profession of the Credo” (ibid.). In addition, all the faithful, individually and as a community, will be called to witness to their faith openly before others in the specific circumstances of their daily life: “the social nature of man, however, itself requires that he should give external expression to his internal acts of religion: that he should share with others in matters religious; that he should profess his religion in community” (cf. Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae, 7 December 1965: AAS 58 [1966], 932). Since it is primarily a matter of developing a supreme degree of holiness of life — to the extent that it is possible on this earth — and hence of obtaining the highest possible degree of purity of soul, the important gift of Indulgences, which the Church, by virtue of the power conferred upon her by Christ, offers to all who, with the proper disposition, fulfil the special prescriptions for gaining them, will be of great usefulness. “With the Indulgence”, Paul VI taught, “the Church availing herself of her powers as minister of the Redemption brought about by Christ the Lord, communicates to the faithful participation in this fullness of Christ in the Communion of Saints, providing them with abundant means to achieve salvation” (cf. Apostolorum Limina, 23 May 1974: AAS 66 [1974] 289). In this way is revealed the “treasure of the Church”, to which “the merits of the Blessed Mother of God and of all the elect, from the first righteous person to the last, add further” (Clement vi, Bull Unigenitus Dei Filius, 27 January 1343). The Apostolic Penitentiary is charged with everything concerning the granting and use of Indulgences. To encourage the faithful to have a correct conception of Indulgences and to develop a devout desire to obtain them, at the request of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization and with attentive consideration of the Note with Pastoral Recommendations for the Year of Faith, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for gaining the gift of Indulgences during the Year of Faith, the Apostolic Penitentiary has established the following measures, issued in conformity with the wishes of the august Pontiff, so that the faithful may be further encouraged to know and love the Doctrine of the Catholic Church and obtain from it a greater abundance of spiritual fruit. Throughout the Year of Faith — established from 11 October 2012 to 24 November 2013 — all individual members of the faithful who are truly repentant, have duly received the Sacrament of Penance and Holy Communion and who pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff may receive the Plenary Indulgence in remission of the temporal punishment for their sins, imparted through God’s mercy and applicable in suffrage to the souls of the deceased: a. every time they take part in at least three homilies preached or attend at least three lectures on the Proceedings of the Second Vatican Council and on the Articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in any church or suitable place; b. every time they go as pilgrims to a Papal Basilica, a Christian catacomb, a cathedral church, a sacred place designated by the local Ordinary for the Year of Faith (for example, the Minor Basilicas and Shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the Holy Apostles or to the Holy Patrons), and take part there in some sacred function or at least pause in recollection for a suitable length of time with devout meditation, concluding with the recitation of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary or, depending on the case, to the Holy Apostles or Patrons; c. every time when, on the days determined by the local Ordinary for the Year of Faith (such as, for example, the Solemnities of the Lord and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Feasts of the Holy Apostles and Patrons and of the Chair of St Peter), in any sacred place, they take part in a solemn Eucharistic celebration or in the Liturgy of the Hours, adding the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form; d. a day freely chosen during the Year of Faith on which to make a devout visit to the baptistery or other place in which they received the sacrament of Baptism, if they renew their baptismal promises in any legitimate form. Diocesan or Eparchial Bishops and those who are legally equivalent to them, on the most appropriate day in this period, on the occasion of the principal celebration (for example, 24 November 2013, on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, with which the Year of Faith will end) will be able to impart the Papal Blessing with the Plenary Indulgence from which all the faithful who receive this Blessing devoutly may benefit. Faithful who are truly repentant and are unable to take part in the solemn celebrations for serious reasons (such as, for example all the nuns who live in perpetually cloistered monasteries, anchorites and the hermits, prisoners, the elderly, the sick, and likewise those who, in hospital or in other places for treatment serve the sick permanently…), will gain the Plenary Indulgence on the same conditions, if, united in mind and spirit with the faithful present, especially at a moment when the words of the Supreme Pontiff or of the Diocesan Bishops are broadcast via the television or radio, they recite at home, or wherever their impediment obliges them to be (for example, in the monastery chapel, in hospital, in a clinic, in prison...), the Our Father, the Profession of faith in any legitimate form and other prayers in conformity with the objectives of the Year of Faith, offering up their suffering or the hardship in their lives. In order that access to the sacrament of Reconciliation and the gaining of divine forgiveness through the power of the Keys may be pastorally facilitated, local Ordinaries are asked to grant faculties, limited to the internal forum, to canons and priests who will hear confession. The hearing of confession of the faithful will take place in cathedrals and churches designated for the Year of Faith, as specified for Eastern Rite faithful in can. 728 § 2 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches and, in the case of a possible reservation, those in can. 727, excluding, as is obvious, the cases considered in can. 728 § 1; for the faithful of the Latin Church, the faculties specified in can. 508 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law. After warning the faithful of the gravity of sins to which a reservation or censure has been attached, Confessors will determine appropriate sacramental penances that will lead the faithful, as far as possible, to permanent repentance and, according to the nature of the case, will make them make reparation for any possible scandal and damage. Lastly, the Penitentiary cordially asks Bishops, since they are in possession of the triple munus [office], to teach, to guide and to sanctify, to take pains to explain clearly the principles and measures proposed here for the sanctification of the faithful, taking into account in particular the circumstances of the place, culture and traditions. An appropriate catechesis for the temperament of each people will draw them, in a clearer and more lively way, and more firmly and deeply root in hearts, the desire for this unique gift, obtained by virtue of the Church’s mediation. This Decree is valid solely for the Year of Faith. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary.

Given in Rome at the Seat of the Apostolic Penitentiary, 14 September 2012, on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Manuel Card. Monteiro de Castro Major Penitentiary Mons. Krzysztof Nykiel Regent

"Auf den Schöpfer schauen"

psylvester hungertuchMünster. In dem von seinem Landsmann Tony Nwachukwu gestalteten Misereor-Hungertuch zur Schöpfungsgeschichte Gottes sieht der Priester Sylvester Ihuoma deutliche Bezüge zu seiner nigerianischen Heimat: Fröhlichkeit, aber auch Armut und Hunger. Der promovierte Theologe ist Seelsorger für die Katholiken aus Afrika im Bistum Münster und Pfarrer in der Pfarrgemeinde Heilige Edith Stein in Münster.

Es ist farbenfroh und zugleich ernsthaft. Es richtet den Blick auf die globalen Probleme der Gegenwart und hat seine Grundlage doch im biblischen Schöpfungsbericht nach Genesis. "Gottes Schöpfung bewahren – damit alle leben können" ist das Leitwort des Hungertuchs, das vom Bischöflichen Hilfswerk Misereor für die Jahre 2009 und 2010 jetzt vorgestellt wurde. Das Hungertuch wird in der Fastenzeit in vielen Pfarrkirchen ausgehängt. Der nigerianische Künstler Tony Nwachukwu hat es gestaltet.