Foreign Funding of Catholic Mission in South Africa: a Case Study

in Mission Studies
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This article forms part of an ongoing study of money as a cultural signifier in western missionary praxis. The focus here is foreign funding of Catholic mission in Africa. It presents a case study of a particular donor agency, given the pseudonym, "funding the mission," and its role in financing Catholic mission projects in South Africa between 1979 and 1997. This period was one of tremendous social change in South Africa during which the Catholic Church spent a large amount of time and effort in reviewing its own praxis culminating in the launch of a pastoral plan in 1989. The article begins by reviewing "funding the mission's" own vision of its missionary role emphasizing its funding criteria. Then there is an analytical presentation of the funding data. This looks at the amounts donated, the categories of projects funded and the identity of the applicants. Identity is first considered in terms of Catholic criteria: dioceses, religious congregations, lay people and ecumenical groups and then as social criteria: foreign, South African and racial identity. The article then proceeds to a missiological reflection in terms of the meaning of money in ecclesial praxis and then its cultural role in society and the church. In this section the missiological category of inculturation provides the hermeneutic key both from the cultural perspective of the donors and that of the recipients. Finally there is a reflection on the notion of sharing within the church and whether sharing from the richer nations is helping or hindering the process of inculturation within African local churches. It includes some suggestions for a more effective response.

Foreign Funding of Catholic Mission in South Africa: a Case Study

in Mission Studies


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