International Conference on Pentecostalism and the Catholic Church – Abuja, 13-17 November 2016.

International Conference on Pentecostalism and the Catholic Church.

bernhard-udelhoven-03By Bernhard Udelhoven, M.Afr

I was invited to attend the International Conference on Pentecostalism and the Catholic Church that took place in Abuja (13-17 November 2016), and that was organised jointly by the Nigerian and the German Bishops Conferences. It was a follow-up on a previous conference in Rome (which I did not attend), and it addressed questions about new trends in the Pentecostal global mission, in the ministry of deliverance and healing, oral hermeneutics and Pentecostal ways of reading the Bible (the Holy Spirit as prime agent of interpretation within a concrete community), a theology of prosperity shaped by the context of the Church’s option for the poor, and ventures of evangelisation through the social media. The conference addressed also the challenges of dialogue between the Catholic Church and Pentecostalism in its immense variety.  

The attendance of the conference proved to be an interesting mix. Apart from various scholars on Pentecostalism from around the world (among them Amos Yong, Opoku Onyinah, Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, Andreas Heuser, Richard Burgess and Afe Adogame), the conference was also intensely followed by thirty or so Nigerian bishops plus priests from all the fifty dioceses. Some of them were charismatics themselves, while others seemed rather sceptical about Pentecostal influences. Bishops and priests also had their own internal meetings in the evenings to discuss what the various contributions would mean to their situation and how they wanted to respond in a unified way. Apart from discussing a dialogue with Pentecostalism, the Nigerian Church was also seeking answers to the Pentecostal impact on Catholic practice. The invited Pentecostal and non-Catholic scholars were greatly outnumbered by the massive Catholic presence, but I guess that they also gained their own insights into the internal workings of the Catholic Church and how Pentecostalism is perceived by Catholics on an official level. Maybe it would have needed more time for all of us to digest better the different topics that have been presented to us.  

Personally, I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet and interact with different scholars on a topic that I have been quite engaged with. The conference has made me more humble, showing me how little I know about Pentecostalism, about its enormous sense of mission, about new ways of doing theology (based on the primacy of the Holy Spirit, dynamic experience and orality over reflection and interpretation), and about a highly organised outreach, often from the grassroots. We would all profit from an informed debate on the Pentecostal challenges.

Link FENZA website: Spirits and the healing of body and spirit: pastoral challenges by Bernhard Udelhoven. A paper delivered at the Conference on Pentecostalism and the Catholic Church, Abuja, 14 – 17 November 2016. Content: Boko Haram spirits – Healing ministry in the Catholic Church – Healing linked to deliverance – Diagnosis, prophecy and exorcism – The need for a person-centred and inclusive approach in a pluralistic world -A shift in focus that our approach requires – The discernments of truth in the inner worldA boy in a mountain – Inner experiences and outer tensions – “Being attacked by the spirit of my great-grandmother” – “Dreaming of my late mother” – “Haunted by dreams of having sex with my late husband” – Our approach in a nutshell –  Healing as a drama – Conclusion. Appendix: some areas of concern in the charismatic healing ministry that I encountered in some Zambian groups

Other links: Church in Nigeria discusses Pentecostalism phenomenon. Catholics, Pentecostals meet in Abuja over religious harmony

The leadership of Nigerian Catholic Church and the Pentecostals yesterday (November 15, 2016) in Abuja began an international conference on Pentecostalism, religious harmony among Christians and relationship with Muslims.

The event four-day event jointly organised by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) and the German Bishops Conference, is being attended by experts and academicians from different parts of the world to discuss the theme: “The Catholic Church and Pentecostalism: Challenges in the Nigerian Context”.

The Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, said the conference sponsored by Missio Aachen of Germany is a follow-up to an earlier international programme on a related matter, held in Rome in 2013. He said it became clear at the Rome event that Nigeria was the focal point of Pentecostal development in Africa due to the activities of Pentecostal Christians, hence the need to fashion out ways of harmonious relationship among Christians and other religions.

A member of the Research Group on International Church Affairs, German Episcopal Conference Andreas Hesenchever said the Pentecostals have been accused of arrogance and overconfidence that made them get into conflicts with Muslims and other Christians, thus the need for dialogue for peaceful co-existence.

archbishop-kaigama-of-nigeria-rv-copieThe Archbishop of Jos and President of the CBCN Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, said perpetual conflicts among Christians will impact negatively on Nigeria let alone Christian-Muslim conflicts and that “The artificial barrier erected for decades should be done away with. We have to relate and live well together in the interest of our country.

A leader of the German Bishop Conference Munster, Germany Bishop Stefan Zekorn, said the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement has proved to be an important challenge for the Catholic Church not only in Nigeria but many other countries worldwide for decades.

“The German Bishop Conference conducted a research and that experts have suggested positive encouragement and personal empowerment within Pentecostal communities that help people tackle the amenities of everyday life. Strong moral rule within the Pentecostal communities might help stabilize family and community values and bring people forward in their businesses and career,” Zekorn said.

Christianity in the Luangwa Valley, by Bernhard Udelhoven

A Luangwa-cover-JPEGChristianity in the Luangwa Valley, by Bernhard Udelhoven

Where faith and culture meet of don’t meet.

What does the Christian faith offer to people in the remote Luangwa Valley of Zambia? How does it link up, of not link up, with their values, life-experience and knowledge of God and the unseen world?

The first Catholic missionaries opened a mission station in the Luangwa Valley in 1904, but they left the valley barely seven months later. They had found greener pastures elsewhere. Within the next 100 years of evangelisation, the valley had witnessed periods of renewed impetus, but the social, cultural and religious coordinates of people in the valley found only few considerations in the pastoral plans of the established Church. For many pastoral workers, the valley was conceived as a difficult place, backwards, and left behind.

Now people of the valley are themselves asking questions to the Church. The answers given to their questions should be significant for the approach to Christian evangelisation far beyond the valley.

This study into the significant social and religious coordinates of people in the valley was commissioned by the Catholic Diocese of Chipata in search for a contextualised pastoral approach.

FENZA Publications, 252 pages, 2015. (First publication in 2007)

Official launching of the “Unseen Worlds” – 27th February 2015 at FENZA, Zambia

Romaric BationoBy Fr. Romaric Bationo, M.Afr

The latest FENZA book “Unseen World” by Bernhard Udelhoven was launched to great compliments at an event organised and hosted by FENZA on Friday 27th February 2015. The book launch attracted good number people; well-wishers, friends and partners of FENZA. Among other attendants, there were the archbishop of Lusaka, Bishop Telesphore Mpundu; the German Ambassador to Zambia, his Excellency Mr Bernd Finke; the ZEC secretary general, Fr Zulu; the secretary of the Apostolic Nuncio, Fr Marco Formica; the National Pastoral Coordinator, Fr Justin Matepa; and the Provincial of the M.Afr in Southern Africa, Fr Christopher Chileshe.

Radio Yatsani represented by its director, Fr Singini, was there to record the event for a later broadcast.

Launching Unseen Worlds Feb 05The featured speakers were Bernhard Udelhoven the author of the book, Fr. Thomas Banda, the Diocesan pastoral coordinator for Lusaka archdiocese, and Chuma Peter Mfumu, one of the “Fingers of Thomas”.  Fr Bernhard explained succinctly how the book came about and its contributors. Fr Thomas spoke powerfully of the book. He commented that the book makes the case for urgent pastoral intervention gives hope and provides pastoral insights to deal with cases of witchcraft, Satanism and spirits possessions. He concluded with a glowing tribute to the book as sensible and a “must-read”.

After the interventions of the panelists, the audience was given the opportunity to comment on the book or ask questions. Many shared their experience and struggle to come to term with the issue of witchcraft. Others expressed their happiness that the book will elucidate the overwhelming issues of witchcraft and Satanism. Most of them congratulated Bernhard and FENZA and commended the book as timely. As the observations of participants sparked off a lively discussion, Mr Denis Wood, a contributor to the book urged all to buy it, read it, use it and promote it.

Unseen Worlds 01Several copies of the book were sold out, picked like hot cakes even before the opening of the launch. At the end of the launch many of the participants complimented FENZA for a memorable event.  Of this book launch, Fr Bernhard commented that it was “FENZA at its best”.

“Unseen Worlds” is available at FENZA, in the Catholic Bookshop of Lusaka and soon it will be available in other bookshops at K80. You can also buy it online at

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FENZA Book Launch Invitation – Friday 27th Feb. 2015

FENZA Logo 2

FENZA (Faith and Encounter Centre Zambia)

Cordially invites you to attend the book launch of

Unseen Worlds 01Unseen Worlds: Dealing with Spirits, Witchcraft, and Satanism

By Bernhard Udelhoven

Friday 27th February 2015, 15:00 -17:00 hrs

At Faith and Encounter Centre,

Off Leopards Hill Road, next to Yatsani Radio

 You are welcome to join us on this joyful occasion!

The book (453 Pages) will be sold for K 80.00

See the link:

UNSEEN WORLDS, Dealing with Spirits, Witchcraft, and Satanism

UNSEEN WORLDS, Dealing with Spirits, Witchcraft, and Satanism

Unseen Worlds 01“This book is dedicated to all those who experience evil or ambivalent spiritual powers in their lives. In a special way, I dedicate it to the people who have shared with me and with our pastoral groups their inner experiences with such powers. They have proven that encounters with these forces do not need to lead to suspicions, accusations, fear and despair. This book is a witness that they can lead to growth, reconciliation, and to a wider sense of belonging.”

Those are the words of the author, Bernhard Udelhoven, M.Afr, who has just published an outstanding book of 453 pages on a very difficult but increasingly important subject in today’s life in Zambia. Themes such as spirits, devil, power, deliverance, prayer, ritual, witchcraft, Satanism, inculturation and the charismatic Church, are abundantly studied in the book. It is a masterpiece that every pastoral worker should read.

How to help people affected by witchcraft or demons. How to intervene when witchcraft accusations rip communities apart. How to help pupils who claim contact with occult forces. 

Bernhard Udelhoven 03Already available at the price of 100 Zambian Kwacha, the book will officially be launch at a later date which will be announced in due time. Please contact FENZA or the Office of the Secretariat of the Missionaries of Africa in Woodlands, Lusaka.

By Bernhard Udelhoven, M.Afr, FENZA Publication, Faith and Encounter Centre Zambia, Lusaka, 2015.

Click on the following picture to order the book on Internet. Then, simply click on “Add to Cart” and follow the normal procedure. Enjoy the reading.

Unseen Worlds pageSee also the following link: