Stop tradition of making women swear on dead husbands – Catholic Priest urges christians

The Parish Priest of St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Rev. Fr. Gabriel Ekpe – MSP, has condemned certain aspects of African culture, including the tradition of making women swear on their dead husband’s bodies, human sacrifice, and idol worship.

He said these practices are contrary to the teachings of the Church.

Fr. Ekpe made these remarks during the inaugural Cultural and Feast Day celebration at the church premises in Gwagwalada, Abuja, held on the theme “Unity in Diversity: A Moment of Celebration.”

He stressed the importance of embracing the positive aspects of African culture, such as respect for elders, hospitality, communal life, and reverence for the sacred, which have been integrated into the Christian message. Conversely, he emphasized the rejection of harmful cultural practices like human sacrifice and idol worship.

According to him, the Church does not oppose culture. Rather, it seeks to integrate the beautiful aspects of African culture while discarding the negative ones.

“The Church is not against culture. For instance, the beautiful aspects of our African culture such as respect for elders, hospitality, communal life, respect for the sacred etc have all been integrated into the Christian message whereas, the wrong aspects of our culture such as human sacrifice, idol worship, making a woman to swear on a dead body in the event of the husbands death etc are all shunned by the Church,” he stressed.

He emphasized the importance of celebrating the different cultural identities Nigeria is blessed with especially in contemporary times when culture is fading away due to the metropolitan nature of the church, adding that the church’s mission is “to inculturate(integrate) the beautiful aspects and acculturation(throw away) the bad ones.

Fr. Ekpe further highlighted Jesus Christ’s immersion in Jewish culture during his life, noting that Christ also challenged and corrected harmful cultural norms, such as retaliation.

“Jesus Christ himself was born into the Jewish culture and right from his childhood to his death, he moved according to the Jewish culture. We are told that his dedication was according to Jewish custom(Lk 2:22) and his burial, it was done , following the Jewish burial custom (Jn 19: 40).

On the contrary, the same Christ corrected aspects of the Jewish culture that were not correct like “an eye for an eye and tooth for tooth that contradicted the message of love which he brought. That is what Christianity everywhere is expected to do.

“Finding herself on the African soil, ours is to Africanize Christianity and Christianize Africanism, ” he stated.

“A man without culture is either a ghost or a beast” the Priest quoted the Greek Ancient Philosopher , Plato (427BCE-347BCE).

“Today’s event is a call to celebrate our identity and by extension, our unity, considering the metropolitan nature of our parish community.

“The mission of the church is to inculturate (integrate) the beautiful aspects of a cultural setting wherever she finds herself and to acculturate(throw away the bad ones) thereby, transforming the such culture, ” he said.

Chairman of the Cultural and Feast Day planning committee Mrs. Sylvia Inyang, explained that in the Catholic terminology the event is called “Enculturation” where the diversity of cultures is incorporated into the church a d the good news of Jesus Christ is spread broadly in the society.

“This first ever cultural and feast day celebration since the creation of St. Paul’s Catholic Parish, Gwagwalada Abuja with theme “Unity in Diversity: A moment of celebration ” is apt .

“A time when our dear country Nigeria is bedevilled with all forms of of insecurity ranging from kidnapping, banditry, terrorism and religious intolerance that suggests disintegration . It is our collective responsibility as a religious community and citizens to promote and pray for peace and unity in season and out of season following the example of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, ” she stated.

Highlight of the event was the presentation of three award categories; platinum, diamond and gold to outstanding parishioners for their tremendous contributions to the growth of the Parish .