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CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE NEO-CATHOLIC HEALING MINISTRIES AMONG SOME CATHOLIC PRIESTS IN IGBOLAND

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Abstract

Healing occupied a big space in the ministry of Jesus. It formed part of the mandate he gave to his Church, even at the point of his ascension, as recorded by Mark. The neo-Catholic healing ministry is a new wave of healing adopted by some Catholic priests that has a Pentecostal undertone. It is a ministration of healing that adopts the faith-healing approach of Pentecostalism, as found in the Catholic Adoration Ministries. This is a deviation from the traditional Catholic healing ministry. The Catholic Church celebrates Jesus’ healing ministry on her sick members according to the rites and guidelines established by the competent authorities, the Bishops. In the recent past, the Catholic Church in Nigeria began to notice some deviations from the established rites and guidelines, by some priests. There were also abuses of the sacraments and excesses in the use of the Church’s sacramentals. This was as a result of the influence of Pentecostalism with its sentimental approach to healing. Despite the fresh guidelines issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) in 1997, some priests in Igboland have continued in the Pentecostal method of healing. The study was thus designed to critically review the activities of the neo-Catholic healing (adoration) ministries by some catholic priests in Igboland, noting the deviations, abuses and excesses. The study reviewed the traditional Catholic healing ministry to state the status quo. It also reviewed the Pentecostal faith-healing approach and the Neo-Catholic healing approach, noting the influences. It further reviewed healing approaches in Igbo traditional religion and African Independent Churches (AICs) to note other external influences. The phenomenological method was employed to collect data, and the qualitative analytical method was adopted in analyzing the data collected. Data were collected from both primary sources (participant observation and interviews), and secondary sources (library and internet materials). It was noted that although the Pentecostal healing approach had influenced the neo-Pentecostal Catholic priest-healers, both were borrowing from Igbo and AICs’ approaches to healing in the bid to indigenize or Igbonize the Christian healing ministry. This has ushered syncretism into the Christian healing ministry, and crisis of faith in the Catholic Church; and this calls for a re-catechizing of the Catholic faithful.