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This paper draws attention to the neglected episode of a crisis that engulfed the Benin City Roman Catholic Station from 1951 to 1952. It examines how a disagreement between an Irish priest and an African catechist degenerated into a crisis that pitted the majority of the African laity against the Irish clergy. This crisis was not only reported in national newspapers and taken up by nationalist agitators, but also attracted the concern of Roman Catholics outside the diocese as well as the Vatican. This paper contends that the disagreement became a crisis because of the Irish clergy’s upholding of their policy of gradual incorporation of the African laity into participation in the administration of the diocese, and the African laity’s determination to pursue their aspirations of full and unhindered participation in the administration on their own terms. The crisis was also fueled by African nationalist ferment of the period, which prolonged the issue. The argument is supported with archival sources, newspaper reports and oral interviews with participants and members of the diocese.

In: Journal of Religion in Africa
In: Journal of Religion in Africa
In: Journal of Religion in Africa

This article proposes to describe the oxymoronic aspect of twelfth-century ascetic life, as it is couched in the semantics of marital ‘love-talk.’ By extending Christian asceticism to the field of marital semantics, I hope to come closer to a more intellectual kind of spirituality, situated in the philosophical discourse of the ars dialectica. While it is commonplace to state that affective speech in the twelfth century is a constitutive element of Western ‘spirituality’—up to the point that this period is sometimes credited with being the founder of an individual love-talk—the nature of a ‘matrimonial’ love-speech firmly located within monastic walls is far from self-evident. Furthermore, there is the issue of physical desire in both Christian worship (hymns, liturgy) and reflective, religious language. This ‘incarnation’ of love inside the history of Christianity was coined by the twelfth-century reformer and intellectual Bernard of Clairvaux in the most tangible terms possible, especially in his Sermons on the Song of Songs and in his devotional texts on Mary. However, it is not a broad claim with regard to the status of ‘spirituality’ within history that dominates the present article. If anything, this contribution could be characterized as exploring the opposite of the common semantics of spirituality: the argumentative and dialectical speech on the one hand and the fragility of poetry on the other, glooming beneath the surface of a meandering Christian tradition. My analysis of the work of Peter Abelard (1079–1142)—a fierce opponent of Bernard—will demonstrate a rather radical view of ‘spirituality’ as a sometimes veiled (integementum) and sometimes shattered specimen of medieval love-talk.

In: Journal of Religion in Europe
In: Journal of Religion in Africa
In: The Hand of Fatima