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“The practice of healing ministry in Africa: What is the Christian contribution today?”

“The practice of healing ministry in Africa: What is the Christian contribution today?”



Despite the intervention of scientific medicine, the practice of healing is appearing as a new attitude alongside the emergence of churches in Africa. Some practicioners of healing  would have one believe that healing is the sign of a life in conformity with the will of God, whilst the absence of healing, or any kind of suffering is a curse, or the result of disobedience on the part of the person concerned, or his or her progentiors.[1] This give an opening to the practices of healing. This way of thinking could have one believe that instead of a liberating healing, one could also be dealing with a worsening of the physical condition and psychology of the people concerned. In fact, examining these practices, we believe that there is certainly a legitimate care to help the suffering people from the perspective of the Apostle James (cf. Jas 5:14f.)


Taking this approach, several challenges should be noted for a good pastoral care of health in Africa: returning to the sources of Christian faith. As Jean-Marc Ela affirms, the faith leads us into every situation of distress and suffering to bring promise and a hope for life to whoever has been stripped of these.[2] The highest calling of the of the Gospel in Africa  is to explore viable pastoral ways to respond to the spiritual miseries of Africans – celebrating the sacraments, caring for the sick within the context of the healing ministry recommended by the Church.[3] As St John Paul II said in Salvifici Doloris, we must reassert the value of suffering if we want to be followers of Christ,[4] respecting human dignity in its entirety.


by Solange NGAH

Doctoral student in moral theology

Masters in Canon Law

Catholic University of Central Africa / Catholic Institute of Yaoundé – Cameroon

[1] cf. Bernard Ugeux, Guérir à tout prix? Paris: Ouvrères, 2000, 15-17.

[2] cf. Jean Marc Ela, Le cri de l’homme africain. Questions aux chrétiens et aux églises d’Afrique. Paris: L’Harmattan, 1980, 115.

[3] cf. The Church in Africa in the Service of Liberation, Justice and Peace: Lineamenta of the 2nd Special Session of the Synod of Bishops for Africa. 2006, no 71.

[4] cf. John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris: Pastoral Letter on the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering. 1984.