THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S RESPONSE TO POST DEATH RITUALS IN MUSAMI, 1980 – 2008: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS
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The Catholic Church in Zimbabwe has addressed indigenous post-death rites to varying depth and scope.This study examined the extent to which the Catholic Church in Musami, Zimbabwe has succeeded in implementing inculturation. It interrogates the Catholic Church’s response to post-death rituals in Musami. The study established that Musami Christians have been generally dissatisfied with some inherited ways of doing theology. As a response, Musami Catholics used contemporary contextualized, culturally-based approaches to post-death rituals, which started where people were.To put the Musami inculturation debate into its proper context, the study traced the debate on inculturation among the Catholics in Zimbabwe. It also explored the historical context within which the Musami Mission developed. A detailed description of the St. Paul’s Musami Mission Memorial Shrine is provided in this study. The study noted difficulties bedeviling efforts to analyse the growth of adaptation of traditional culture by making indigenous after-death rituals more meaningful to African Catholics, by analysing the tension between the Catholic traditional faith and Shona post-death rituals. In order to find out the extent of inculturation implemented in Musami, questionnaires were sent to the Catholic and to non-Catholic population. Structured one-on-one interviews and focus groupdiscussions were conducted. An analysis of the data showed the need for the Catholic Church to identify theological imperatives, non-essentials, as well as to be creative in its approach to inculturation. In order to have a more contextualized understanding of inculturation in Musami, the study provided an overview of approaches to inculturation in other denominations. Given women’s greater vulnerability to post-death rituals in indigenous cultures, the study addresses the question of the status of women in the debate on inculturation. The debate recommends effective catechism, upgrading of theological training, the establishment of a Theological Commission and a serious commitment to address inculturation. The study concludes that there is need for doctrinal re-orientation to bring about religious behavioural change and transformation of indigenous Christians through the teaching of Christian doctrine in an organic and systematic way involving pragmatic inculturation.
A THESIS SUBMITTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES