Archbishop Polycarp PENGO 
(Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania)

The life of many Tanzanian Christians today is characterised by a deep dichotomy regarding the professed Christian faith and the concrete day to day living. While theoretically the faith may be expressed in very orthodox terms, concrete life is often so contradictory to the professed faith that one remains stunned by the mere possibility of the two attitudes coexisting in a single individual.

This dichotomy becomes most obvious in situations threatening human life such as serious illness or death. Equally provocative of such dichotomy are cases of infertility in marriage. In order words the said dichotomy lies in the most fundamental levels of the person's being.

The dichotomy at such basic levels of being is bound to cause great pains at less fundamental levels: at psychological and socio-relational levels. The resulting plight is comparable to that of the Gerasene demoniac so well depicted by the Evangelist Mark in chapter 5 of his Gospel. The poor man is, on the one hand, strongly attracted by the person of Christ while on the other hand, he requires Christ to leave him alone.

That plightful situation in which so many Tanzanian Christians find themselves needs the saving message of Christ. In other words, it is necessary to realise genuine inculturation of the Gospel message in the life of the people. This implies internalising the Gospel so that it becomes the single factor to be expressed in all the various social interactions and psychological communications.

In this whole process of inculturation, Christ and his Gospel must take precedence; he must be given absolute primacy. Without holding firmly to that principle, we will end up by baptising the very cultural institutions which caused so much suffering, fear and anguish of mind in the traditional life of the people. We would thus deprive the Gospel message of its saving and liberating power.

Original text: English



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