English Africa Service – Vatican City
Tanzania’s Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Polycarp Cardinal Pengo, has said he is disturbed by the practice of some Catholics procuring holy oils for the sick from other Churches especially Pentecostal Churches. The Cardinal said this Tuesday when he celebrated Chrism Mass at Dar-es-Salaam’ St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Speaking in Kiswahili, the Cardinal urged the faithful not be swayed from their Catholic faith.
During Chrism Mass the Cardinal blessed the Holy Oils
Chrism Mass is usually held in the diocesan cathedral on the morning of Holy Thursday. It may, in some cases, take place on another day during Holy Week. The Mass takes its name from the blessing of the holy oils used in some Sacraments. It is traditional for all priests of the diocese to attend the Mass and renew the ordination promises while the faithful in attendance renew their baptismal promises. After the Mass, priests take back to their parishes the holy oils for use during the year.
Do not be swayed from your faith
“Do you know what kind of oil you are getting? This question really bothers me. Know that with this practice (of procuring oils from other Churches) you are in fact alienating yourself from your own Church,” Cardinal Pengo told the faithful of the Archdiocese. He continued, “Could it be because you do not understand the real meaning of the oils we use in Church? If so, then our priests (here) have the big task of teaching the faithful. Beware of Pastors of other Churches who tell our faithful that 'even your priests and Bishops come to us.' The celebration of (Chrism Mass today) reminds us that as baptised Christians, who have received the Sacrament of Confirmation, we have to stand firm in our beliefs and practices. Do not be easily swayed from your faith,” the Cardinal said.
Anointing of the Sick can only be administered by a Bishop of Priest
In Africa, Pentecostal Churches are reviving the use of sacramentals which were once rejected by Protestantism. What was only found in the Catholic Church is slowly being adopted by some Pentecostal Churches. Some Pastors of Pentecostal Churches now regularly sanction and bless articles such as table salt, water, olive oil and many other items. The blessed articles or the anointing oils attract a small but sizeable fee. It is a practice that is becoming rather lucrative. Catholics already familiar with oils and sacramentals find these rituals attractive and some of them buy the oils from Pentecostal Churches even as they remain firm members of their Catholic parishes. Some parishioners wonder why the Oil for the Sick should be restricted to priests only.
In the Catholic Church only a priest or Bishop can administer the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. It is a Sacrament that is given by a priest to a sick person for spiritual and even physical healing. Some astute Protestant Pastors are now offering oils to Catholics. It is a pastoral challenge that has caught the attention of Cardinal Pengo –hence the clarion call for more Catechesis.
A Priest's faith is anchored on the Cross of Jesus
The Cardinal reminded priests about the importance of the Cross in their lives. He told priests that their faith must be anchored on the Cross of Jesus.
“For you priests, this period of Lent reminds us of the Cross. In the Stations of the Cross, the fifth station is about Simon of Cyrene who helps Jesus carry the Cross. Priests too are called upon to help Jesus by carrying their own Crosses. The priesthood we receive is the priesthood of Jesus Christ and was fulfilled when Jesus took the Cross and offered the perfect sacrifice for the redemption of the world. As priests, we should continue to remember that everyday. We walk in the footsteps of Christ," Cardinal Pengo said.
Also concelebrating the Chrism Mass were Coadjutor Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Jude Thadaeus Ruwa’ichi, O.F.M. Cap. and the Auxiliary Bishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Eusebius Alfred Nzigilwa.