Twenty or more years have passed since the Second Vatican Council made African Catholicism seem a feasible, bewitching mixture of Gospel freedom, mediaeval en rootedness and Third World contemporaneity. Now it has entered a 'dark tunnel', a church of silence working out its future in isolation, poverty and faith. In these essays Adrian Hastings analyses aspects of African Catholicism today, the prophetic role of the christian church in Africa, the sacrificial death of some of its prophetic figures, the ambiguous situation of the church in racist South Africa, the position of women who are Christianity's principal asset, the importance of African theology, now a lived rather than a published, phenomenon and the ambiguous figure of Archbishop Milingo, exorcist and healer.
A single theme binds them together, that of the abiding ministerial reality of the village, the priestless peasant religion which has made Catholicism in Africa as indigenous as maize meal or banana beer. Adrian Hastings draws on examples ancient and modern to illustrate this theme: the Donatists of fourth-century North Africa the Monophysites of Egypt, and his own personal experience of a rural parish in Uganda. No longer in a formal structure of ministry himself, Hastings launches a hard-hitting attack on an ultramontanist, curial bureaucracy. This is a controversial, but fascinating, book, which affords many important glimpses of what is happening in the 'dark tunnel".