Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Racism from 'Mundabor,' Taylor Marshall & So-called 'Traditionalists' against Africans

Like the Pharisees, some so-called "traditionalist" Catholics love to nitpick how a priest is dressed at Mass, the vestments are used or even if he wears a cassock or if his clerical collar shirt has long sleeves. Short sleeves are frowned upon. I guess forearms are too sexual. Nuns are not immune either. If a habit is not full enough to cover a woman like a hajib, then this nun is labeled all kinds of things. God help her if she is not in a habit. The criticism is just childish and borderline psychotic. Well, Pope Francis is not immune either.

After viewing his recent trip to Africa, they began to target his chasuble and crosier or ferula. Nevermind listening to the homily or the Mass. These are not important enough like what the pope wears is. Rather, they focused on a chasuble with a leopard pattern to them. Conspiracist Taylor Marshall took to Twitter and Instagram to mock the pope with some sarcasm.


A white wealthy man criticizing African cultural expressions in the liturgy is not good optics. Implicit racism anyone? If that is not bad enough, a so-called "traditionalist" blogger posted a very offensive blog post where the pope is mocked and racism is put on full display. This blogger goes after the pope attacking his use of the chasuble and ferula while at the same time disparaging African natives. The blogger writes:

"What does an idiot who visits Africa does? He tries to please the natives with leopard themed vestments.
It is not only the vulgarity that is staggering. It is the condescending stupidity that once again with this man, leaves one speechless. Pope Francis has become the best parody of himself.
Oh, and have you seen the Ferula? Suitably simple, as befits the poor, primitive, leopard-loving natives."

The blogger then ends the post with a very unchristian and quite frankly, racist remark, "Imagine how happy the simple natives will be!"

So there you have it. This blogger makes fun of the use of the simple wooden ferula that comes from the native people in the area and calls them "simple natives." That is right. This blogger describes African natives as "simple."

It is not difficult to see that whoever wrote this blog is not shy about being a racist. Taylor himself implicitly has demonstrated his racism as well. Both of these bloggers either are willfully ignorant or are truly racists. There is no gray area. To attack the pope for using vestments that inculturate the people of Africa is an insult to the African people and their culture. It is xenophobic and racist. This eurocentric mentality has no place in the Catholic Church which prides herself as being universal. This is what the word "Catholic" means. The Catholic Church is centered in Rome, but this does not mean it is the "Eurotholic" Church. She is the Catholic "Universal" Church.

The Catholic Church has always incorporated elements from the cultures she has encountered. Any well educated Catholic knows this. Why Marshall and "Mundabor" do not know this is troubling. In fact, Catholicism incorporated things from Judaism and Paganism. Judaism incorporated things from Paganism such as the idea of sacrifice and use of altars. The Catholic Church has made use of altars which are Pagan and origin, and temples. In fact, the Church had no building until about 313 AD when Constantine legalized Catholicism. He gave the Pagan temples to the Catholic bishops. This is why our churches are modeled after the famous Pagan temples in Rome. Later on, architecture for churches developed adopting cultural elements from the regions the Church found herself in. In Catholic parishes and chapels around the world, you may have noticed a red lamp with a candle. This is usually hanging above the altar or next to the Tabernacle. The candle is called the Sanctuary Lamp. It serves as an indication that God is present. In other words, Jesus is in the Tabernacle under the Sacred Species of consecrated bread or hosts. This lamp comes from the Jewish one call the Ner Tamid which served the same purpose. The lamp is perpetually on in every Synagogue and is an indication that God is present. I can go on and on, but we get the point of how the Church as incorporated many elements from Judaism from which she was born from and Paganism, whom she has evangelized.

There is nothing wrong with this. The Church makes it clear that culture is important when evangelizing people, Gaudium Spes states:

53. Man comes to a true and full humanity only through culture, that is through the cultivation of the goods and values of nature. Wherever human life is involved, therefore, nature and culture are quite intimately connected one with the other.
The word "culture" in its general sense indicates everything whereby man develops and perfects his many bodily and spiritual qualities; he strives by his knowledge and his labor, to bring the world itself under his control. He renders social life more human both in the family and the civic community, through improvement of customs and institutions. Throughout the course of time he expresses, communicates and conserves in his works, great spiritual experiences and desires, that they might be of advantage to the progress of many, even of the whole human family.
Thence it follows that human culture has necessarily a historical and social aspect and the word "culture" also often assumes a sociological and ethnological sense. According to this sense we speak of a plurality of cultures. Different styles of life and multiple scales of values arise from the diverse manner of using things, of laboring, of expressing oneself, of practicing religion, of forming customs, of establishing laws and juridic institutions, of cultivating the sciences, the arts and beauty. Thus the customs handed down to it form the patrimony proper to each human community. It is also in this way that there is formed the definite, historical milieu which enfolds the man of every nation and age and from which he draws the values which permit him to promote civilization (Gaudium Et Spes).

So we see here how culture is very important in the life of man. Culture develops and perfects all that man is, body and soul. When evangelizing, culture is extremely important. The Church has to know and understand the people she is preaching the Gospel to. St. Pope Paul VI tells us:

Evangelization loses much of its force and effectiveness if it does not take into consideration the actual people to whom it is addresses [sic], if it does not use their language, their signs and symbols, if it does not answer the questions they ask, and if it does not have an impact on their concrete life (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 63).

If the Church does not use the language of the people and their signs and symbols, she cannot fully evangelize the people. This is why culture is extremely important, especially in evangelization and the Liturgy. Moreover, the Church borrows from the customs and ways of the people she evangelizes. We read in Ad Gentes:

22. The seed which is the word of God, watered by divine dew, sprouts from the good ground and draws from thence its moisture, which it transforms and assimilates into itself, and finally bears much fruit. In harmony with the economy of the Incarnation, the young churches, rooted in Christ and built up on the foundation of the Apostles, take to themselves in a wonderful exchange all the riches of the nations which were given to Christ as an inheritance (cf Ps. 2:8). They borrow from the customs and traditions of their people, from their wisdom and their learning, from their arts and disciplines, all those things which can contribute to the glory of their Creator, or enhance the grace of their Savior, or dispose Christian life the way it should be.(5) (Ad Gentes)

The things the Church borrows from the culture of the people she evangelizes is used to give glory to the Creator and enhance the graces needed so the Christian life can be lived. These elements are culture are purified in order to serve God. We read in Lumen Gentium:

Through her work, whatever good is in the minds and hearts of men, whatever good lies latent in the religious practices and cultures of diverse peoples, is not only saved from destruction but is also cleansed, raised up and perfected unto the glory of God, (Lumen Gentium 17)

So we see that the Catholic Church does not want to destroy or erase the culture of the people and replace it. Rather, she borrows from them, cleanses them and uses them to glorify God and evangelize the people so that the people can live their Christian life as it should be lived. The Catholic Church is not an imperialistic empire looking to assimilate and destroy other cultures. She has made it clear. In Faith and Inculturation and Evangelii Praecones, we read this clearly:

24. The Holy Spirit does not establish a superculture, but is the personal and vital principle which will vivify the new community in working in harness with its members (FAITH AND INCULTURATION, 1988).

"The Church's aim is not the domination of peoples or the gaining of temporal dominions; she is eager only to bring the supernatural light of faith to all peoples, and to promote the interests of civilization and culture, and fraternal concord among nations."[23] (Evangelii Praecones)

The idea that every culture must adopt a European or white way of doing this is not the Church's thinking. As stated, The Holy Spirit did not create a super culture in the Church that seeks to replace other cultures. The Catholic Church does not exist to dominate other people and erase their culture. Rather, she cleanses them and makes use of them so they can glorify God and evangelize the people more effectively. Evangelii Praecones goes further by stating:

58. This is the reason why the Catholic Church has neither scorned nor rejected the pagan philosophies. Instead, after freeing them from error and all contamination she has perfected and completed them by Christian revelation. So likewise the Church has graciously made her own the native art and culture which in some countries is so highly developed. She has carefully encouraged them and has brought them to a point of aesthetic perfection that of themselves they probably would never have attained. By no means has she repressed native customs and traditions but has given them a certain religious significance (Evangelii Praecones 58)

We said: "The herald of the Gospel and messenger of Christ is an apostle. His office does not demand that he transplant European civilization and culture, and no other, to foreign soil, there to take root and propagate itself. His task in dealing with these peoples, who sometimes boast of a very old and highly developed culture of their own, is to teach and form them so that they are ready to accept willingly and in a practical manner the principles of Christian life and morality; principles, I might add, that fit into any culture, provided it be good and sound, and which give that culture greater force in safeguarding human dignity and in gaining human happiness. Catholic inhabitants of missionary countries, although they are first of all citizens of the Kingdom of God and members of His great family,[46] do not for all that cease to be citizens of their earthly fatherland."[47] (Evangelii Praecones 60)

So as you can see, the Catholic Church does not seek to make every culture into a European one. While we are the Latin rite, that does not mean that every culture must become Roman in the cultural sense. That being stated, "Mundabor" and the comments made about the Shaman etc are out of line and purely ignorant. It shows that this blogger does not know Catholicism well and how it works. The same applies to Taylor Marshall. Despite having a Ph.D. and Protestant theology degrees during his time as an Anglican priest, he has demonstrated his ignorance of Catholicism. Making fun of the pope's chasuble is pretty much-making fun of African culture. It demonstrates a subliminal form of white supremacy. European white culture is not superior to that of the African's. The Catholic Church has made it clear and any sane and intelligent person would know this.

The chasuble itself is something the Catholic Church borrowed from Pagan Rome. It had a secular use, or to borrow from so-called "traditionalists," a vulgar use. This is why I find it silly when these so-called "traditionalists" nitpick chasubles and the like. It really shows that they are ignorant of the Catholic Church, her Liturgy, and her history. Moreover, "Mundabor" attacked the use of the simple ferula the pope carried. EWTN announcers during the Mass stated that this ferula was made from the debris of homes destroyed after a natural disaster hit. In other words, this ferula has a symbolic meaning for the African people the pope was visiting. To mock it is to mock the suffering the people endured during and after the disaster. Very Christian behavior right?

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal tells us that the Church allows for flexibility on materials for vestments. Vestments can reflect the cultural richness of a region and can be approved by the bishops of the region. It says:

342. As regards the form of sacred vestments, Conferences of Bishops may determine and propose to the Apostolic See adaptations that correspond to the needs and the usages of the individual regions.[137]
343. For making sacred vestments, in addition to traditional materials, natural fabrics proper to each region may be used, and also artificial fabrics that are in keeping with the dignity of the sacred action and the sacred person. The Conference of Bishops will be the judge of this matter.[138]
344. It is fitting that the beauty and nobility of each vestment not be sought in an abundance of overlaid ornamentation, but rather in the material used and in the design. Ornamentation on vestments should, moreover, consist of figures, that is, of images or symbols, that denote sacred use, avoiding anything unbecoming to this.
345. Diversity of color in the sacred vestments has as its purpose to give more effective expression even outwardly whether to the specific character of the mysteries of faith to be celebrated or to a sense of Christian life’s passage through the course of the liturgical year.
Number 343 makes it clear that the use of traditional materials and natural fabrics is allowed by the Catholic Church for vestments. Moreover, according to Dr. Jeanetta Selier, leopard skins are used for ceremonial wear in both religious and cultural ceremonies.  The KwaZulu-Natal and Swaziland groups, as well as, the Nazareth Baptis Shembe sect uses it in their worship. In the west, it is a symbol of wisdom. In other words, African culture sees the leopard pattern as equal to gold or silk. It is valuable in their culture.

I hope this post helps Catholics understand how the Catholic Church works with other cultures and why the pope may wear vestments that may look strange to an outsider. He is not trying to disrespect the faith or start a fashion trend. The vestments are meant to incorporate the culture of the people he is visiting. This is what the Church has always done. Remember, the use of vestments was never really part of the Church. She borrowed it from secular, Jewish and Pagan use. It as not until about the year 800 that vestments were formalized and universal in the Church. The chasuble the Church used was more like the one we use today and not the shorter sleeveless fiddleback one that is used in the Extraordinary Form. Knowledge is power. Hopefully "Mundabor" and "Marshall will take the time to do research and not post false information on social media about the Liturgy and the Catholic faith.

Racism in any form is a sin and is evil. It can manifest explicitly or implicitly. "Mundabor" and "Taylor Marshall" need to be more careful and avoid posting racist commentary. Remember, Africa is the life of the Catholic Church now. She is thriving there and vocations are coming out of the MotherLand, Africa more than any other place. She is supplying other regions with priests. Let us respect the African Catholic Church and all cultures the Catholic Church has adopted as her own.

But any kind of social or cultural discrimination in basic personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language or religion, must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God's design.
Gaudium et Spes (“The Church in the Modern World”), Vatican II, 1965, #29.

The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it: Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Vatican, 1992, #1935.

Diversity is a beautiful thing when it can constantly enter into a process of reconciliation and seal a sort of cultural covenant resulting in a “reconciled diversity.”
Evangelii Gaudium (“Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis, 2013, Chapter 4, #230.

Also, this fetishism with vestments is not healthy,  psychologically speaking. it may be an indicator of repressed homosexual tendencies.   Externals are externals, nothing more.  There is no need to engage in scruples by nitpicking everyone and what they are wearing at Mass.  If Africans see leopard skins as valuable and worthy to use as vestments, who is Taylor or anyone else to judge?  It is not the place for white men, or any layman to dictate how Africans run their liturgies. They have their bishop's conferences and the GIRM gives them the authority to use whatever materials they want for their vestments.  If the pope wore then, then clearly he approved of them.  The pope always has the final word. 

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