Church 'was a major organiser in the slave trade, Racism, Colonialism'

Publié le par hort

Church 'Was Complicit in Slave Trade, Racism, Colonialism'

Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)
18 December 2007
Runaway Bay

Protestant and evangelical theologians want world Christianity to own up to its role in the horrific trade in Africans by Europeans up to 200 years ago.

Between the 16th and 19th century, some 15 million enslaved Africans were forcibly taken away by European traders, shipped across the Atlantic Ocean and landed in the Caribbean and the Americas. Another 6 million slaves died in transit.

The evil trade particularly profited England, Portugal, France, Spain, and Holland, and is the basis for Euro-American wealth, the theologians said. All people of white European ancestry who had no direct involvement in the slavery or the Slave Trade nevertheless were beneficiaries of the  enslavement system.

"Many churches were actively involved in the Transatlantic Trade in Africans and colonialism; hence, the church's mission has bee  seriously compromised and betrayed by its historic complicity with two of the most blatant forms of oppression that occurred within the 16th to 19th centuries," the theologians said in Jamaica last week.

"Further, the church's pastoral and prophetic roles in the contemporary period are obstructed by its voluntary amnesia about its past corporate sin and silence regarding the past - as well as regarding the present - responsibility to bring justice to those still suffering from the legacy of the Transatlantic Trade in Africans and cultural imperialism."

The church is also guilty of promoting racism and colonialism that destroyed African societies, said the theologians in a conference to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the formal end of the Slave Trade.

The theologians, from the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Church and the Council for World Mission, said Africans are owed reparations by the Europeans who enslaved their forefathers.

"We believe that reparations are essential for the healing of peoples who were once enslaved. Reparations go far beyond a financial figure; rather, reparations are about recognizing the wrong that has been done. It is a process that compels confession, contrition, restoration and reconciliation; it also involves a process or truth-telling that sets rights, makes amends and restores breached relationships.

"Reparations from both the church and society are needed, and these reparations are both praxis and prophetic - naming the wrongs that have been done is praxis or an action-reflection model; righting the wrongs, is a prophetic action."

Pope John Paul II and the archbishop of Canterbury Rowan William expressed remorse for the church's role in the Slave Trade.

But the theologians said the apologies have not been effective enough in eradicating white supremacy, systemic racism and the ongoing legacy of the Transatlantic Trade in Africans.

The scholars said descendants of the legacy of racism had the memory, voice, cultural resources, religious resources, and spiritual gifts, prerequisites for helping the church address its current predicament.

"If our voices are heard, then, the church might be better able to realize true community in identifying with the oppressed through the cross of Jesus Christ, and the church might be better able to live out an action-reflection model by verily assuming the form of the enslaved."

See full text of the theologians' statement at:

Publié dans classical africa

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