THE WHITE FATHERS by Glenn D. Kittler


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This illustrated volume might variously be described as a highly informative and enlightening account of the unique character and the specialized work of the White Fathers in northern and central Africa, an interesting and inspiring biography of Cardinal Lavigerie, who first envisioned and then founded and guided the missionary order in the nineteenth century, or an illuminating study of the religious, psychological, economic and political complexities of the life of certain of the African peoples in the past and present century. Essentially the first two and to a lesser extent the third, the book is actually all of these at once. The underlying thesis is, that of all their benefactors, the missionaries, particularly the White Fathers, have done the most to benefit the Africans in every way, while European political and commercial interests, in sharp contrast with the policies and advice of the Roman Catholic Church with regard to Africa and the Africans, have continually placed obstacles in the way, something for which they eventually have had to pay dearly. The style is undistinguished, although the narrative is enlivened by authentic anecdotes and dialogue. The appeal of the book will probably be primarily to Catholics, but it deserves to find a wider market because of the wealth of detailed information it affords the reader about Africa, the extraordinary ideals and activities on the White Father missionaries, the missionary policies of the Catholic Church and the general history that has gone into the making of the present situation in northern and central Africa. In the person of Cardinal Lavigerie, who eventually became primate of Africa, it will also introduce the reader to a giant of a man about whom too many have little or no knowledge. The author's sources are highly authoritative.

Publisher: Harper