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Mar 30
2009

What is the connection between Christianity and Voodoo?

Posted by gmg in FAQs

Voodoo is strongly acclimated to, if not merged with the Catholic faith. Besides the historical facts that both in Benin as well as in the French, Spanish and Portuguese colonies where Voodoo landed, the Catholic Church was either the only and official religion, or was heavily propagated; only the Catholic Church offers the nearly identical spiritual practices that the Voodoo could relate to.

In general, Voodoo maintains the belief in an almighty God who, however, is detached from pedestrian lives and interactive mainly with chiefs and priests. The Christian churches of western Europe furnished in the American colonies that function of an elitist access to God, putting them not in conflict, but therefore, in a juxtaposed conformity with Voodoo beliefs.

The Catholic Church alone, however, offered a host of venerated Saints with personifications and roles not that different from those of the Voodoo spirits.  Hence, for example, as the Voodoo spirit Legba commands access to abode of God in Africa, in New Orleans it was easy to reinvent him as St. Peter holding the key to heaven.  

Next, the veneration of sacred objects, especially the uncorrupted corporal remains of Saints and relics, like splinters of the True Cross, relates naturally to the Voodoo beliefs that objects, gris-gris, are imbued with spiritual characteristics beyond their mere physical properties.   

Finally, the most sacred of Catholic beliefs, the transformation of the Eucharist during Mass into the actual body of Christ, relates to the Voodoo understandings that when the spirits possess either persons, or things, they are transformed, in fact, into that living spirit.

In 1967 Pope Paul VI issued a papal encyclical, called the Africae Terrarum, which said in part, “Many customs and rites, once considered to be strange are seen today, in the light of ethnological science, as integral parts of various social systems, worthy of study and commanding respect. In this regard, we think it profitable to dwell on some general ideas which typify ancient African religious cultures because we think their moral and religious values deserving of attentive consideration.”
 
Later Pope John Paul II attended Voodoo ceremonies in Togoland and Benin. He also said, in part, in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Africa, “Africans have a profound religious sense, a sense of the sacred, of the existence of God the creator and of a spiritual world.”

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