HI-Touch Pastoral Approach in the 21st Century

A response to the problem of insufficient organic link between faith and daily life in Nigeria

by Sylvester Ajunwa (Author)
©2015 Thesis 300 Pages


«Human Integrated Touch» (HI-Touch) is a pastoral care approach that could be a response to the lingering problems of Christianity marred by an insufficient organic link between faith and daily life in Nigeria. Arguing for an integrated approach to humans and the human condition, the study presents the HI-Touch as a form of pastoral care that is not only based on religious affiliations, but also on human authentic values vis-a vis an authentic Christian faith in a dynamic society. The growth of atheism in modern societies is not only a conceptual denial of the existence of God but an elimination of God from the affairs of man. The right way to overcome this is through a new order of human relations that calls for love, mutual respect, hospitality, empathy, communion, and dialogue with one another in all human situations.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Abbreviations
  • General Introduction
  • Scope and Projected Objective
  • Methodology
  • The Structural Scheme
  • Chapter One: The Anatomy of the Problem of the Insufficient Organic Link between Faith and Daily Life in Nigeria
  • 1.1 The Problem of the Insufficient Organic Link between Faith and daily Life: An Overview
  • 1.2 Tracing the Roots of the Problem
  • 1.2.1 Pre-Colonial Nigeria: General World-view and Social Structure
  • 1.2.2 Nigerian Major Tribes
  • The Igbos
  • The Hausa
  • The Yoruba
  • 1.3 The Project of Colonialism: The Myth of Nte and its Invader (Ihe ka Nte biakwutere Nte)
  • 1.3.1 The Penetration of all the Tribes of Nigeria
  • 1.3.2 Nigerian State: A Child of Colonial Convenience
  • 1.3.3 Colonialism and the early Christian Missionaries
  • 1.3.4 The colonial system of indirect rule
  • 1.4 Ripple Effects of the Colonial Convenience
  • 1.4.1 Amalgamation without a Melting Point
  • 1.4.2 Socio-Political Consequences
  • Political Instability
  • Tribalism
  • Recycling of Poverty
  • 1.4.3 Socio-cultural Consequences
  • The Crisis of Language
  • Change in dressing styles
  • 1.4.4 Religious Consequences
  • Religious diversity
  • The Chameleon Effect
  • 1.4.5 Mimicry /Dissimulation: the climax and epitome of all the effects of colonialism
  • Summary and Conclusion
  • Chapter Two: Nigeria in the 21st Century and the Emerging Challenges
  • 2.1 21st Century: An Overview
  • 2.1.1 Globalization: Meaning and impact in Nigeria
  • 2.2 Other social features of the 21st Century: Their outlooks and impacts in Nigeria
  • 2.2.1 Pluralism
  • 2.2.2 Cultural Hybridization
  • 2.2.3 The Politics of Recognition
  • 2.2.4 Religion and Religious Fundamentalism
  • 2.2.5 High-Tech Culture
  • 2.2.6 Urbanization and City- Life
  • Summary and Conclusion
  • Chapter Three: The Catholic Church in the 21st Century
  • 3.1 The Catholic Church before the Second Vatican Council: A Brief Background Story
  • 3.2 The Inauguration of the Second Vatican Council
  • 3.2.1 Aggiornamento
  • 3.2.2 Ressourcement
  • 3.2.3 Development
  • 3.3 Paradigms of Change in the Second Vatican Council’s documents
  • 3.3.1 The Church as the People of God: Lumen Gentium (LG)
  • Charisms
  • Dialogue
  • 3.3.2 The Church in the Modern World: Gaudium et spes(GS)
  • 3.3.3 Liturgical renewal: Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC)
  • 3.3.4 Divine Revelation: Die Verbum (DV)
  • 3.5 The Hallmarks of the Second Vatican Council
  • 3.6 Other Reactions towards Vatican II
  • Summary and Conclusion
  • Chapter Four: The Catholic Church in Nigeria: Connecting What It Should Be with What It Should Do in the Light of the Vatican II Reforms
  • 4.1 A Review of the Two Synods: Ecclesia in Africa and Africae Munus
  • 4.1.1 Ecclesia in Africa
  • 4.1.2 Africae Munus
  • 4.2 The People of God, Communion and the Family of God
  • 4.3 The Church as Communion vis-à-vis the Concept of Community (Umunna bu Ike or Ujamaa) in Africa
  • 4.4 The Church in Nigeria: The Family of God on Mission
  • 4.5 What the Church should do: Highlighting the Pastoral Proposals from the Second Vatican Council to the African Synods
  • 4.5.1 Reading the Signs of the Time
  • 4.5.2 Authority as Service (Diaconia)
  • 4.5.3 The Mission to Evangelize
  • Inculturation
  • Dialogue
  • Justice and Peace
  • The Use of Modern Social Communication
  • The Project of Reconciliation
  • 4.6 A Pentecost Church?
  • 4.7 The Risk of Commodification of Pastoral Care
  • Summary and Conclusion
  • Chapter Five: HI-Touch Pastoral approach in the 21st Century Nigeria: A Conceptualization
  • 5.1 Conceptualization of HI-Touch
  • 5.1.1 Meaning of HI-Touch
  • 5.1.2 John Naisbitt’s use of High Touch
  • 5.1.3 HI-Touch: an acronym of Human Integrated Touch
  • 5.2 HI-Touch: A New Order of Human Relations Rooted in the Vatican II Pastoral
  • 5.2.1 HI-Touch Approach as Pastoral Paradigm Changer
  • 5.2.2 Dialogue: A Model of HI-Touch Pastoral Conversation
  • 5.3 Being Human and Human Integrated (HI-Touch)
  • 5.3.1 What is a Human Being?
  • 5.3.2 Human Integrated and Humanism
  • 5.4 The Human Condition and the HI-Touch Approach
  • 5.4.1 Homo Dolens
  • 5.4.2 Homo Interrogans
  • 5.4.3 Homo Historicus
  • 5.4.4 Homo Symbolicus
  • 5.4.5 The Human Condition in the face of Modern Advancement
  • 5.5 Models of HI-Touch in the Scripture
  • 5.5.1 Mosaic Model: The Wisdom of Jethro (Exodus 18)
  • 5.5.2 Give them something to Eat (Luke, 9:13)
  • 5.5.3 The Antiochian Example (Acts 11:19–26)
  • 5.6 HI-Touch Pastoral Praxis
  • 5.6.1 HI-Touch Pastoral Approach: Ministry with and beyond the Sacraments
  • Summary and Conclusion
  • Chapter Six: Application: HI-Touch Pastoral Praxis in Nigeria
  • 6.1 Conceptual Application
  • 6.2 A HI-Touch Approach to the influx of High-Tech in Nigeria
  • 6.3 A HI-Touch Approach in Re-Building the Nation
  • 6.4 Pastoral Advocacy: a method in HI-Touch Pastoral
  • 6.5 Forming a HI-Touch Theological Hermeneutics: Nigerian Brewed
  • 6.6 HI-Touch Homiletics in Nigeria
  • 6.7 HI-Touch pastoral in Nigeria: from Mega-Church-Pastoral to Family and Neighbourhood Pastoral
  • 6.8 From Mis-Education to HI-Touch-Education
  • 6.9 HI-Touch Extra-Liturgical Programs
  • 6.10 Drawing up a HI-Touch Pastoral Plan
  • Summary and Conclusion
  • General Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Ecclesiastical Sources
  • Conciliar Documents
  • Pontifical Documents
  • Pontifical Special Reports, Episcopal Conferences and other Documents
  • Books
  • Articles and Journals
  • Electronic Works
  • Newspapers

List of Abbreviations

HI-TOUCH Human Integrated Touch.
CBCN Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria.
CCC Catechism of the Catholic Church.
ATR African Traditional Religion.
NMI Novo Millenio Inuente, Apostolic Letter, Pope John Paul II, 2001.
NGOs Non-Governmental Organisations.
SCCs Small Christian Communities.
PDG Pascendi Dominici Gregis, Pope Pius X, 1907.
EN Evangelii Nuntiandi, Apostolic Exhortation, Paul VI, 1975.
LG Lumen Gentium.
GS Gaudium et Spes.
SC Sacrosanctum Concilium.
DV Dei Verbum. ← 13 | 14 →

← 14 | 15 →

General Introduction

This work is structured as a critique of the dissociation of the practice of Christian faith from daily life with its challenges and struggles to cope with the material needs that sustain life. It examines the gap between religious sources of wisdom and social issues, the rift between faith and practical life or between faith and culture. This gap between the two domains has a long complicated history extending from early Christianity right up until the 21st century and encompassing the social structures and cultures of the world at large. The history books chronicle the details of this complicated history which cannot be narrated within the scope of this work, but suffice it to say that there has been an age-long disparity as well as compromises between the two domains. However, the basic questions that inspired this work are as follows: How does one define who is a true Christian especially in contemporary times, looking at the whole raft of differences that exist between how things are done in society and what Christian faith teaches and propagates in its varied denominations? Could Christians be defined according to how they look, their colour or race, how they dress, their words, mannerisms, signs and symbols, or ways of life, observance of rules and codes or religious practices? What gives Christianity and Christians their identity? Are there ethical principles associated with Christian faith which differentiates it from social ethics and what determines those ethical principles? These questions have always appeared in varied forms in the development of the Christian faith.

In the early stages of the spread of Christianity amid various challenging worldviews, philosophies and religions, the primary issue that confronted Christians was the authenticity of their faith and their identity, reflected in the question of what is Christianity. As Christian faith continued to move and spread around the world, the basic issue shifted to that of embodying and witnessing faith in life. The ethical and moral questions became the central issues. As the Christian faith became divided and formulated by different Christian denominations, the basic concern became how Christianity should be practiced and which Christian denomination has the true Christian practices? Furthermore, as Christian faith gradually becomes confronted with equally powerful religious and ideological forces in various parts of the world, the primary issue is also shifting to why Christianity, Christian practices and principles among other many religious options? This is the contemporary shift which revolves around the legitimacy of Christianity, Christian principles and practices among the myriads of religious ← 15 | 16 → options or in what R. Hoge calls “a culture of choice”1 in modern times. The patterns and intensity of these shifts vary from country to country and from continent to continent. But James Sweeney identifies a common feature of what drives these shifts in contemporary times as the emergence of a new kind of personal autonomy which is transforming how individuals relate to the social and the religious order.2 This sense of autonomy is both personal and socio-cultural. It is personal because individuals are more emboldened to seek their personal rights, privileges, self actualisation and autonomy. It is socio-cultural because indigenous cultures and societies are struggling to gain their autonomy and define their identity.

The problem here may be to find out to what extent, individual autonomy, self-actualisation and socio-cultural identities have a place in Christian faith and to what extent does Christian faith contribute to the human struggle for freedom and self-actualisation. This problem becomes more pronounced within the framework of the Catholic Church which is the oldest form of Christianity in its pattern of institutionalisation and pastoral ministry. In view of this, this work suggests, that the Catholic Church in contemporary times (which is the main focus of this dissertation) would need to overcome apologetics, the polemics of which church is the true church and the concentration on its internal structures and focus on the vision and mission of Christian faith in the contemporary world. This is important because there is the need to have a look at the world extemporaneously, with some sense of the moment and a sense of responsibility and not only with nostalgia that it was better in the olden days and that the present is only the decay of the past. The present is also a platform for the practice of Christian faith. In this sense “the reading of the signs of the time” inaugurated in the Second Vatican Council as a legitimate part of Christian vision and mission becomes extremely relevant in contemporary theological studies. The focus then would be to know and to understand modern men and women in their quest for autonomy, social struggles for self-actualisation and the contemporary world. John Paul II articulates this in these words:

the concern to know better and to understand modern man and the contemporary world, to solve their puzzle and reveal their mystery, to discern the ferments of good and evil within them, has long caused many people to direct at man and the world a questioning gaze. It is the gaze of the historian and sociologist, philosopher and theologian, ← 16 | 17 → psychologist and humanist, poet and mystic: above all, it is the gaze, anxious yet full of hope, of the pastor.3

James Sweeney with Gemma Simmonds and David Lonsdale see this within the context of pastoral theology as the focus on a sustained exploration of the link between the realities of human, personal and social experiences and Christian theological tradition, with its varied resources of wisdom, the insight and the message of the gospel and the saving truth it proclaims.4 It is in line with this that this research is entitled Human-Integrated-Touch Pastoral Approach (henceforth- HI-Touch pastoral approach). It is a slight shift from the concentration on Christian denominational and institutional polemics to the core message of the gospel and a pastoral approach that is oriented to humanity in their daily struggles for life, both spiritual and mundane. This approach is directed to bridge the gaps of disparity between faith and daily life, to discover the unity of human struggle in modern society and to give a pastoral hand of solidarity to the unity of the human family without destroying or despising its diversity and the culture of choice.

Scope and Projected Objective

The case study for the HI-Touch approach in this research is the 21st century Nigerian society. One may ask why Nigeria and why Nigeria as a unit considering the diverse cultures within it? Nigeria as a case study provides a litmus test for a concrete reference point, because it is an exemplar of diversity and social struggles that characterizes contemporary societies.5 On the part of the Christian faith ← 17 | 18 → in Nigeria, the foundation was among others a mingling of colonialism and missionary activities. This yielded a mutated kind of Christianity. Because of this, Christianity in Nigeria still wears to a great extent the face of a foreign culture. Amidst the strong Christian religious atmosphere in Nigeria there are still nagging problems of disparity between Christian faith practices, cultural practices and socio-political cum economic issues in Nigeria. This provides a paradigm case for HI-Touch pastoral. Many African authors have identified that there is certainly a tension and disjunction when Christian faith is called to task in the face of myriads of African beliefs and socio-cultural and political circumstances. They, however, saw the problem as a cultural problem and proposed adaptation ← 18 | 19 → and inculturation as the solution. But this research approaches this from an integral perspective that does not stop at inculturation as a cultural project alone but includes social, political and economic situations in Africa as areas of major concern in contemporary Africa. All these areas contribute to proper pastoral care in contemporary times.

The contemporary Nigerian society is made up varied religious affiliations. On moving around in Nigeria, one breathes an air of religiosity especially Christianity and Islam. One sees big churches, prayer centres and camps, mosques, big billboards along the highways with religious symbols, advertising religious programs and testimonies of miracles. One hears echoes of prayers and gospel music played loud along the streets. On participating in any of the church programs (especially in Christian churches), one is aware of the exuberance and warmth of African music and worship, and the large numbers of people in attendance. There are also testimonies of miracles received and miracles expected. There is a manifest show of religion and expression of faith which takes the order of the day. However, a high level of social disorder of corruption and crime is also noticeable in the daily mundane activities, even under the cover of religion. Thus one is left to conclude that the phenomenal religious atmosphere celebrated by the numerous Christian denominations does not translate to the social, political, cultural and economic domain and that the Christian message has not taken roots in a practical sense. This is where the dissociation of faith and daily business of existential life lies in Nigeria. In his analysis of the situation, J. Onayikan affirms that there is apparently an insufficient organic link between faith and daily life in Nigeria.

The questions one would ask at this stage are as follows: Why is it that a good number of Christians in Nigeria are not able to translate their faith in an organic manner into their daily social and cultural lives? What are the situations that ferment this and what are the possible solutions? These questions are part of the central issues in the development of this research. The position this research assumes is rooted in the hermeneutics of HI-Touch. The argument is that for anything to affect and transform Nigerian society as a form of religion, education, and development in answer to the troubling questions of Nigerian contemporary society, it has to take an integrated approach. This simply means that faith and reason, the gospel and authentic human culture, professed faith in its different Christian denominational expressions and human conditions should be integrated for the joint task of determining actions. This could be interpreted ← 19 | 20 → to reflect what John Paul II calls “the movement of the incarnation”6 (NMI.3) which lays the foundation for anthropology that reaches beyond its own limitations and contradictions and moves towards God himself. (Cf. NMI.23) The movement of the incarnation has so far been understood to mean inculturation among Catholics. But there is still a limitation in the practice of inculturation in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

In essence, as argued in this dissertation, inculturation could liberate the Church in Africa and African theology and establish a reasonable level of interaction between culture and Christianity that would be mutually beneficial and transforming, but it does not exhaust the whole content and movement of incarnation. Inculturation at its present level in Africa has not included strong advocacy to adequately address the socio-economic and political pains of oppression in Africa, racial marginality and class infringement, tribalism and nepotism. These social conditions and factors are stereotypically and fatally synonymous with Africa. Because of their preponderance too they are assuming the status of culture on which other social factors of the modern day African societies oscillate. In such situation one wonders on what cultural platform inculturation would take place.7 Does the translation of the Bible into many African languages, the use of local drums, rhythms and songs in the liturgy and many religious symbols and sacramentals that bear the mark of African arts and culture exhaust the full content of being Christian and the movement of the incarnation? The hermeneutics of HI-Touch promotes an aspect of the incarnation movement that emphasizes personal encounter and sociological interaction. It sees a rich heritage in the concept of reconciliation and dialogue as necessary working principles in the continuous movement of the incarnation. Reconciliation is a pre-political concept and reality and religious concept too. (cf. Africae Munus, 19) Its goal is the inner purification of man and society as an essential prior condition for justice and peace. It facilitates the appearance of true humanity and true Africanness that will probably put inculturation as an ongoing task to a proper perspective. For reconciliation to take place dialogue has to become a new order of being and the new order of human relationship. This is a window of possibility inaugurated by the Second Vatican Council. ← 20 | 21 →


The research is descriptive and is presented as the author’s response to the lingering problems of defaced, Europeanized and colonized Christianity, marred by mimicry and dissimulation in Nigeria. While it describes the historical formation of the case study and advent of Christianity, it also applies a narrative and evaluative approach, to make a good diagnosis of the problem it sets out to solve. The research applies an integrated approach to the issues with contextualization. It does this through a hermeneutical analysis of the research topic. As an integrated research wherein care of the totality of the human person is at the core, it analyses the social situations cutting through theology, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, psychology and history. This method is based on the hermeneutics of integration that builds on the assumption of the complementarities of knowledge and that no single branch of knowledge is enough to build the human society. There is the need to integrate them to function in an integrated and symbiotic form, but also contextualized. This dissertation attempts to analyze the tension that exists within conflicting or interacting forces, elements, or ideas and how these dialectics impregnate social changes that historically affect lives on the contextual level, especially as Christians in Nigeria practise the demands of their faith. Through this method, this research utilizes resources from diversified fields of study to build up the arguments. It sees all the diversified areas of study as a unified whole of synthesis and energy necessary in building a human society that bears an imprint of the gospel.

The Structural Scheme

This research is developed in six chapters. Chapter one discusses the anatomy of the problem of the insufficient organic link between faith and daily life in Nigeria. It discusses the origin of the insufficient organic link as being associated with the formation of Nigeria as a nation state through colonialism which affected the social, political, cultural and religious structure. Discussions in this chapter proceed through a historical overview of Nigeria, tracing how Nigeria was before the saga of colonialism and early missionary ventures. It looks at how colonialism started and operated, and then highlights its effects in the political, social, religious domain in Nigeria. Although this story appears to be over-flogged, it is only narrated here to give a base to the discussion on the phenomenon of mimicry and dissimulation discovered at the course of this research as what ferments the insufficient organic link between faith and daily life in Nigeria. ← 21 | 22 →

Chapter two situates Nigeria within the socio-cultural currents and torrents of the 21st century. Globalization is presented in this chapter as the buzzword that interprets the social and technological transformations of the contemporary era.8 Particular emphasis is laid on its impacts in Nigeria which are visible in the communication-revolution and the rise of migration for economic purposes. The impacts of this as presented in this chapter are evident in the revolution seen in the use of radio and television, cassettes and videos, internet, news prints and telephones. But more attention is paid to the effect it has on the creation of imaginations and fantasies which could be described as “new mythographies”9 that counterpoint the certainties of daily life. These mythographies as would be discussed in this chapter imbricate the culture and people’s lives with the glamour of European and American cultures, of film stars and celebrities which distract attention to the level of underdevelopment, poverty and forms of dehumanisation in the country. In general this chapter also sees these impacts as a prolongation of the phenomenon of mimicry that seriously stirs up the level of crime and corruption. This plays a key role in widening the gap between faith and daily life in Nigeria.

Chapter three sees the root cause of the problems of practice of faith and the challenging issues of globalization as the problem not only for the Nigerian Church but also for the universal Church.10 All major social forces have precursors, precedents, analogise and sources in the past.11 Thus chapter three links the marks of the 21st century to the social changes that is in continuity with modernity. Since the major perspective in this work is from the Catholic Church, this chapter then highlights how the Church has wrestled in the course of history with modern social transformations and the measures taken by the Church to update itself with the modern world which culminated in the Second Vatican Council. Attention is given to the indices of the Second Vatican Council and what landmarks the Council left for the Church in general and how these landmarks could be foundational in bridging the gap between religion and cultures of the world and making organic connection between professed faith and lived ← 22 | 23 → experiences amidst the contingencies of the 21st century, especially in Nigeria as a case study.

Chapter four defines what these reforms and opportunities provided in Vatican II mean for the African Church in general and what the Church in Nigeria should be and should do in the light of the Vatican II. The contents of this chapter are structured as the review of the two African Synods in the light of the Second Vatican Council as a way of connecting what the church should be with what the church should do in the current and existential situation of life in Nigeria.

Chapter five develops the thesis of HI-Touch pastoral proposed in the dissertation. The central point in the thesis of HI-Touch pastoral is that pastoral care has to shift from much concentration on power oriented pastoral to service oriented, from orthodoxy to orthopraxy, from sacramentalization to evangelization/ pastoral solicitude. The human family in all cultures and societies of the world have in this century many challenges and situations that call for care. Pastoral care has to be adapted to the socio-cultural challenges of the particular environment it is being practiced. This chapter goes to define what HI-Touch pastoral means, various footages of HI-Touch in the documents of Second Vatican Council and in the scriptures. It goes on to highlight the different human conditions that could be places of pastoral adaptation and care.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (June)
pastoral care authentic Christian faith pastoral approach existential human conditions
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 300 pp.

Biographical notes

Sylvester Ajunwa (Author)

Sylvester O. Ajunwa is a priest of the Catholic diocese of Ahiara in Imo State, Nigeria. He holds two degrees from the Urban University in Rome, Italy and a PhD in Pastoral theology from the Julius-Maximilians University Würzburg, Germany. He is the founder of the «Lay Initiative For Evangelisation (L.I.F.E)».


Title: HI-Touch Pastoral Approach in the 21st Century
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