Coming up

Don't miss




2014-07-11 21:47 AFRICA NEWS

Read more


Finally, a good use for new app "Yo"

Read more


The World This Week - 11 July 2014 (part 2)

Read more


The World This Week - 11 July 2014

Read more


Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more


Politics: parties under pressure

Read more


In Burma, the rise of radical Buddhism

Read more


Haute Couture: the hand-stitched clothing made in Paris that sells for the price of small yachts

Read more

  • Amazon snubs French free delivery ban with one-cent charge

    Read more

  • Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

    Read more

  • Netanyahu resists international pressure to stop air strikes on Gaza

    Read more

  • The third-place playoff: the World Cup game no one wants to play

    Read more

  • Suspect in Brussels Jewish Museum shooting drops extradition appeal

    Read more

  • Kurdish forces take over two oilfields in northern Iraq

    Read more

  • Are French high school students getting smarter?

    Read more

  • Italy’s Trentin wins seventh stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Disgraced Suarez leaves Liverpool for Barcelona

    Read more

  • In pictures: Chanel, Dior and so much more at the Paris couture shows

    Read more

  • French ‘Civic Service’ eyes massive expansion amid huge demand

    Read more

  • In Pictures: Petrol station hit by Hamas rockets

    Read more

  • Manhunt as FIFA partner flees Rio hotel to avoid arrest

    Read more

  • Video: Palestinians fear full Israeli military offensive in Gaza

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces close in on Donetsk

    Read more


Pope urges Africans to shun witchcraft


Video by Catherine VIETTE , Clovis CASALI

Latest update : 2009-03-21

Pope Benedict has urged Catholics in Angola to shun witchcraft and to reach out to people who believe in spirits and sorcerers. Human rights groups say many abandoned children in the country have been accused of being witches.

REUTERS - Pope Benedict on Saturday urged Catholics in Angola to shun witchcraft and woo back those who have left the Catholic church to join other religious groups, including some that believe in spirits and sorcerers.


The 81-year-old pope, showing signs of fatigue in the humid heat, said a mass for several thousand people inside a church as thousands followed the service outside.


In his homily, he urged his listeners to reach out to those Angolans who believe in witchcraft and spirits.


"So many of them are living in fear of spirits, of malign and threatening powers. In their bewilderment they even end up condemning street children and the elderly as alleged sorcerers," he said.

Last year police rescued 40 children held in a house by two religious sects after their own families accused them of witchcraft. The sect leaders were later arrested.


Charismatic guerrilla leader Jonas Savimbi, for example, who led the opposition party UNITA in its war with the government, fought alongside a woman whose magic he believed would protect him from enemy fire.


But belief in spirits in Angola goes beyond evangelical sects. Human rights groups say many abandoned children have been accused of being witches, particularly in rural areas, because they are believed to be possessed by malign spirits.


The flourishing of evangelical sects has been a big problem for the Catholic Church since the end of the 27-year-old civil war in 2002.

Exodus from Church

The number of sects in the former Portuguese colony has jumped to 900 from just 50 in 1992 -- the year the government abandoned Marxism, according to Angola's national institute on religion.


Experts say the sects attract Angolans because their rituals are very intense and blend in traditional African beliefs, and some promise an immediate end to suffering in a country where the majority of the population is still very poor.


In his homily, the pope urged Catholics to try to convince those who had left the Church that "Christ has triumphed over death and all those occult powers".


On Saturday night the pope presided at a rally for tens of thousands of young people at Luanda stadium and remarked that some in the crowd had been injured by landmines.


"I think of the countless tears that have been shed for the loss of your relatives and friends," he said.


Angola is one of the most densely mined countries in the world. Despite an extensive demining program since the end of the civil war there are still thousands of square kilometres (miles) of uncleared land.


As many as 80,000 people have been injured by landmines and the lives of more than 2 million people have been affected.


The late Princess Diana toured a minefield in Angola in 1997 to raise awareness of the dangers of landmines to children long after a conflict is over. She is believed to have influenced the signing of the Ottawa treaty, which created an international ban on the use of anti-personnel landmines.


Date created : 2009-03-21