Africa, April 9, 2016 – Afrol

The Catholic Archbishop of Johannesburg, Buti Tlhagale, has warned that also clergy in Africa have committed sexual abuse of children. Abuse was not a Western problem, it affected Africa too, he said.

The South African Archbishop in his Chrism Mass deplored that the “image of the Catholic church is virtually in ruins because of the bad behaviour of its priests, wolves wearing sheep’s skin, preying on unsuspecting victims, inflicting irreparable harm, and continuing to do so with impunity. We are slowly but surely bent on destroying the church of God by undermining and tearing apart the faith of lay believers.”

So far, there have been no sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church in Africa. Revelations of sexual abuse of thousands of children by Catholic clergy in North America and Europe have rocked confidence in the church and the Pope’s capability of leading the faith community.

But the lack of revelations in Africa so far should not be misinterpreted as a sign that everything was right on the continent, Archbishop Tlhagale warned. The fact that “the misbehaviour of priests in Africa has not been exposed to the same glare of the media as in other parts of the world,” did not mean this misbehaviour did not exist.

Archbishop Tlhagale added that Catholic priests now found it difficult to address moral issues as their own poor morals were exposed. “As Church leaders, we become incapable of criticising the corrupt and immoral behaviour of the members of our respective communities.”

“We become hesitant to criticise the greed and malpractices of our civic authorities. We are paralysed and automatically become reluctant to guide young people in the many moral dilemmas they face,” he deplored.

Mr Tlhagale is the president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference and is described as one of Africa’s most influential Catholic leaders.

Africa is among the main mission fields of the Catholic Church, where membership in the church is fastest growing. But there have already been reports about congregants leaving the church in disgust over the sex abuse scandals, protesting the moral standards among Catholic clergy.