A “Do-Nothing” Organization? The Catholic Association, 1934–1974

Nicholas M. Creary

in Domesticating a Religious Import

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780823233342
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823241774 | DOI:
A “Do-Nothing” Organization? The Catholic Association, 1934–1974

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The Catholic Association (CA) was the first organized lay movement in the Catholic Church in colonial Zimbabwe. While African laymen founded the organization, Jesuit and clerical understandings of Catholic Action significantly constrained it. Consequently, such attitudes about Catholic Action can be construed as manifestations of European colonialism within the church. In that light, the CA's efforts were the African laity's moderate attempt to liberate the church. In addition to the constraints of missionary colonialism, CA leaders had to contend with intimidation and violent opposition from African nationalist movements. The CA may not have done monumental things that are recorded as the great deeds of great people, but the men and women who joined its ranks, attended its congresses, gave their money in support of its projects, and supported one another in the mundane activities of daily village life certainly did something.

Keywords: Catholic Association; Catholic Church; colonial Zimbabwe; missionary colonialism; African nationalist movements

Chapter.  17520 words. 

Subjects: History of Religion

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