Catholic World News

Prelate warns of African scandals, says abusive priests are ‘destroying the Church of God’

April 08, 2010

One of Africa’s most prominent prelates warned in his Chrism Mass homily that “the misbehavior of priests in Africa has not been exposed to the same glare of the media as in other parts of the world.”

“In our times we have betrayed the very Gospel we preach,” said Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg. “The Good News we claim to announce sounds so hollow, so devoid of any meaning when matched with our much publicized negative moral behavior … 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.”

“Ironically, priests have become a stumbling block to the promotion of vocations,” he continued. “I wish I could say that there are only a few bad apples. But the outrage around us suggests that there are more than just a few bad apples.”

“The upshot of this sorry state of affairs is that we weaken the authoritative voice of the Church,” he added. “As Church leaders, we become incapable of criticizing the corrupt and immoral behavior of the members of our respective communities. We become hesitant to criticize the greed and malpractices of our civic authorities. We are paralyzed and automatically become reluctant to guide young people in the many moral dilemmas they face.”

“It is imperative that we join St. Francis in rebuilding the battered image of the Church,” he said towards the homily’s conclusion. “We do this when we ourselves turn a new leaf, by being beyond reproach. This is the only way we are going to rebuild the confidence and respect of the people for the Church and for her priests.”

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  • Posted by: - Apr. 08, 2010 3:58 PM ET USA

    Maybe it is time to look at the African priests who "used" Catholic nuns who were virgins to avoid the consequences of rampant AIDS in the continent!!

  • Posted by: Jason C. - Apr. 08, 2010 12:26 PM ET USA

    Who here is surprised by this? Do people honestly think Milingo is the exception in an impoverished continent where the priesthood is a quick way to get educated and employed and be placed in a position of authority? We have missionaries for a reason.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 08, 2010 9:36 AM ET USA

    Now this bishop is saying the right ords but the bishops need backbones of steel to call sin a sin and restore the good name of the Church in their dioceses. The Holy Father and Rome can only do so much and are usually the last to receive information on specific clerics who abuse. It does no one any good to be lenient in thiese matters.