Pope Benedict XVI discussed witchcraft today at a conference with Angolan Bishops in Africa. He did not endorse witchcraft, as can be expected from the Pope but a listen to the address does shy away from condemning traditional African practice or rejecting an African spiritual heritage in lieu of Roman Catholicism. This is somewhat of a reaffirmation of Pope John Paul II, who also said that Roman Catholicism was compatible with Vodou in his 1992 meeting with Beninoise Vodou Houngans.
This is, however, one of Pope Benedict’s many conservative swings away from the former stance of Pope John Paul II. Compare what Pope John Paul II said in his meeting with African Houngans in 1992 to that of Pope Benedict today;
[The Vatican Council II] recognized that there are truth and good, seeds of the Word, in the various religious traditions.
You are strongly attached to the traditions which your ancestors transmitted to you. It is legitimate to recognize the ancestors who transmitted to you the sense of the sacral, faith in a one and good god, your tastes for celebrations, and consideration for moral life and harmony in society.
Pope Benedict XVI modified the stance and reconciled by saying;
The heart of the baptized is sometimes shared between Christianity and traditional African religions.
He did strongly condemn any form of violence in witchcraft, especially toward children and the elderly. We also agree at Bondye that any abuse of children, the elderly or anyone at all has no place in religion – be it Roman Catholic or Vodou.
Most Vodouisants, particularly in Haiti, are both practicing Catholics and believers in Vodou.