Father Hoban and the Devil’s Work
Who do those African priests think they are, coming over here and telling Irish Catholics there are actually such things as sin and judgement and damnation? One Nigerian priest, Father Joseph Okere, is even reported to have said in a sermon at St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford that the recent referendum vote in favour of “same-sex marriage” was evidence that the devil was at work in Ireland.
Now seriously. Isn’t that just what every Irish priest should be telling his congregation? Thank God for Fr Okere and so many other faithful Nigerian priests who are not afraid to tell it like it is! Who taught them to speak out like this? Irish missionaries, of course—many of them Holy Ghost Fathers. But how things have changed. When the local militant homosexual pressure group complained about Fr Okere, Bishop Francis Duffy cravenly apologised “for any insensitivity”.
Despite the shortage of Irish priests, Britain’s Tablet—voice of the liberal Catholic establishment—questions whether priests from the developing world ought to be allowed to serve in Ireland at all, given Africa’s hostility to homosexual practices. “Remarks by a Nigerian priest in Ireland linking gay marriage to the works of the devil are seen by some as symptomatic of the problems of importing clergy to address the country’s need”, says the Tablet, adding sniffily, “but the practice does have its defenders.”
Father Brendan Hoban (who else?) of the Association of Catholic Priests of Ireland, thinks that African priests really aren’t up to the task of ministering to us sophisticated Irish. The priest’s job today, he said is “a very complex and demanding role, one that needs a clear understanding of and expertise in the history, especially the recent socio-religious history, of Ireland.” (Funny, I always understood that the priest’s job was to preach the Gospel and offer the Holy Sacrifice.)
I doubt if those who originally evangelised the Irish and persuaded them to stop sacrificing maidens and worshipping the local shrubbery had much knowledge of the socio-religious history of pagan Ireland, but they seem to have coped quite effectively without it. I rather suspect that Fr Okere and his companions will make a better fist of re-evangelising the country than Fr Hoban and the ACPI.
It all rather puts one in mind of Cardinal Walter Kasper’s attitude to Africans. Remember how he was caught on tape saying “Africa is totally different from the West. Also Asian and Moslem countries, they’re very different, especially about gays. You can’t speak about this with Africans and people of Moslem countries. It’s not possible. It’s a taboo….But they should not tell us too much what we have to do.” And this despite the fact that Africa—home to 135 million Catholics in 2005, and a projected 230 million by 2025—is where the future of the Church lies. Europe is likely to have fewer Catholics than Africa within a decade.
I don’t often use that stupid word “racism”, but it’ s applicable in the cases of Kasper and Hoban. Their remarks about Africans are just would-be civilised variations on “Get back up your palm tree, Sambo. Go throw your coconuts elsewhere.”
One hundred and fifty years ago the Church in England and Wales would have looked pretty silly without a large influx of devout Irish priests. In the very near future Ireland will have reason to be equally grateful to Africa. To Nigerian Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo of Oyo, it is a no-brainer. “There should be absolutely no problem,” he said, “for priests from anywhere in the world to come back and help Ireland”, especially after so many Irish missionaries spread the Gospel to Africa, Asia, and the Americas.