8 January 2016

Yes Baas: Grand Renaissance Prelates and their Africans

Here is an old blog post, slightly corrected:
I have before referred to that interview in which His Eminence Walter Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae presbyter Cardinalis Kasper spoke sneeringly about African Christians ... and then denied his words ... until the journalists provided a tape recording ...

This incident reminded me powerfully of an incident at the last Lambeth Conference at which similar sexual questions were being discussed, and where the African Bishops were resisting pressure from wealthy ultra-liberal Americans.

One American woman-bishop was heard to say "Some of these Africans would do anything for a chicken dinner". (Sadly, nobody was taping her; things are so much better organised in the Vatican.) The notorious Bishop Spong, according to reports, opined that Africans were superstious, ill-educated, and unsophisticated

Original date of the above, 06/01/2015. UPDATE follows: Who said this:

***"Of course the Church is growing [in Africa]. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith). Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent".

["Uneducated" ... "simple answers" ... "socially dependent" ... We have here the condescending superiority of a cultural elite who despise common people and regard sexual incontinence as being the natural privilege of their own class. Edward Stourton, an English journalist from an old Recusant family (possessed of a real barony), now a 'remarried' divorcee, is recorded as having observed, with regard to Catholic sexual morality, that his own views had become "nuanced". Adultery and sodomy are now nuanced, sophisticated, all that. Gotta get beyond primitive negro taboos, yeah? Life isn't as simple as these blacks think, OK?]

The *** passage above is said by its Internet reporters to be found on the German Bishops' website, and to come from the pen of its editor one Bjorn Odendahl. I am not a Germanist: I would be interested if somebody who is one could enlighten us as to what is the original phrase for "the dark continent" [UPDATE: it is " ... auf dem schwarzen Kontinent"]; how common a phrase that is in modern German; and what the implications and resonances of it are in modern usage; particularly in view of the adjective "dark".

                                   NOT A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

Whenever a believing and practising Catholic is being interviewed by the media, it is made clear where he is coming from, with the media implication "His views are the less cogent because he is only a Catholic ... he's just a predictable robot ... a credulous and bigoted fool ... trying to onload his bigotries on you ... be warned ... you may very naturally wish to ignore whatever he says". 

I think the same sort of Health Warnings ought to be stuck on the packaging of the Nuanced and the Sophisticated when they are being interviewed. Just so that we all know where they are coming from.

Like this: "Mr X is a practising and highly Nuanced homosexualist. Now, Mr X, what are your views about Divorce Equality for the Gay Community, especially at the most Nuanced end of its spectrum  ...". 
Or this: "Mr Y married his present wife after divorcing his wife of an 11 year marriage which had resulted in five children. That marriage broke up after he discovered Sophistication with his present partner after work one Thursday evening. The ensuing divorce caused the nervous breakdown of his teenage daughter. Now, Mr Y, you have written this most interesting book, newly on sale in all good bookshops priced at a mere £59.99, about how important it is for the Catholic Church to move into the twenty-first century ...".

See what I mean? It's only fair. 


Patrick Sheridan said...

I remember some years ago discussing sexual morality with a Nigerian Baptist who said that the irony of the negro tradition of sexual morality was that it was imposed upon them by European colonialists who have themselves abandoned their own moral sense.

There's an awful sense of triumphalism among these liberals; the cosy, inbred, pat-on-the-back contempt for the mere people. It's shameful.

Jane said...

Yes, shameful is the word for it.

Liberals are not kind. "Liberal Christian" is non-sense.

Michael Leahy said...

Forgive me if this might be too rude, but I can't help but comment, in terms of the liberal mindset, "Some of these Americans would do anything with a chicken."

Christopher Boegel said...

Leftists are neither liberal nor progressive...they are illiberal and regressive. They should just be labelled iaw what they are promoting...in this instance...fornication...that is...the sexual disintegration of the person.

Anonymous said...

"The Dark Continent" was probably first used, mid-19th century by American Explorer Henry Stanley. The continent was "dark" because it was mostly unexplored and unmapped even though most of it was under European control.
The decline in such usage probably stems from the much greater knowledge the world has of the geography and cultures of the African interior.
What current usage is in German, I can not say, but, at least originally, it had no racial or insulting overtones.

Unknown said...

"Yes Baas"- as a South African I found your title hilarious, but thanks be to God the African higher clergy are generally not saying yes baas to their liberal European counter parts. Not yet anyhow...will mammon triumph? I hope not.

AndrewWS said...

When I think of the intelligent, articulate, zealous and courageous African priests I have met recently, this sort of thing makes me want to scream.

I haven't been in Germany for some years now, but suspect that talking about the "black continent" might nowadays be regarded as racist. Come to think of it, I don't recall the expression being used much in the days when I lived there. Perhaps it comes as second nature to ageing clergymen.

Michael Leahy said...

Ashley, let us hope you can hold out until you take us in Europe over. I feel no reason to apologise for my post of a year or so ago. If anything, it seems more plausible.

Theodor said...

The proper translation of "schwarzer Kontinent" should be "black continent". It would be quite difficult to find out, whether the root of this expression is the dark skin color of Africans or an early understanding of Africa as mainly a "terra incognita". In all-day German the usage of "der schwarze Kontinent" would mostly make the impression of being well-educated or even poetic. Other combinations of "Schwarz" in the context of Africa are quite innocent in average German as well. We used and still use to talk about "Schwarzafrika" although the PC police tells us, that we should use "Subsahara-Afrika".

But Mr. Odendahl, who has a background in the PC-oriented institutional youth of the german church, in his article surely plays with the racist undertone of the expression. The official website of the German Bishops Conference (katholisch.de) is mainly written by people of his type: they engaged in the youth organizations, were not able to finish a proper education or find a job and then were transferred to one of the uncountable fleshpots of the Kirchensteuer-church. These people are completely mediocre and (in an old austrian saying) not even worth to be ignored ...

The Flying Dutchman said...

"Schwarz" does not mean "dark", it means "black" plain and simple.

Unknown said...

I remember hearing a talk given by a priest some years ago who asserted quite matter-of-factly that some of our Catholic clergy had been "educated right into immbecility." It would be a difficult thing to deny after reading some of the third person commentary you posted Father H.
The words pompous haught come to mind.

" . . .even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent", - is an insult to God : It is God who calls ment to the priesthood - not some type of social condition. And if such is the case , what pray tell was the cause of flourishing vocations to the priesthood in Germany (if and when they were flourishing). . . ? I wonder if they would try to blame the present decline on an infiltration of the (then) East Germans when the Berlin wall fell ?

And mightn't we all love to hear the hare-brained explanation of Herr Odendahl of whatever on earth (since he isn't counting Heaven) the cause could be of the increase/upturn in vocations of late in England and Wales.

Matt 11:25-26 [NAB]

At that time Jesus said in reply, "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.”