The term “priesthood” refers to one of the world’s oldest human institutions. The cause is unmistakably linked to man’s religious tendencies. Man, on the other hand, is a religious creature by nature, “Homo Religiosus.” Man’s concern with the sacred, characterized by Rudolf Otto as “something inexpressible mystery above beings” 1. Mysterium tremendium. – a mystery that both attracts and repels, the emergence of the priesthood in human society must have been accelerated. Many social scientists are not fooled when they designate religion as one of mankind’s five social institutions2.

“A complex or cluster of roles, which are knit together for the accomplishment of specific purposes…” is what social institutions represent.

3 In the religious sector, sacred ceremonies and the upkeep of the sacred order are frequently used to communicate with the sacred. When Emil Durkheim4 equated religion with divinized society, he was clearly exaggerating. However, he received a passing grade on its role in any community. Because religion is inherent to all human societies, old and modern, the tools that support it and fan the flames of religion in the hearts of its adherents are worth examining. The institution of the clergy is one of these tools. We’ll talk about it from both a Catholic and an Igbo traditionalist standpoint. As a result, in the traditional African setting, religion is almost identical with culture. Africans who “eat religiously, drink religiously, bathe religiously, dress religiously, and sin religiously” are well-known. 5 As a part of their culture, they should cherish, nourish, and perpetuate the priesthood. Priesthood and sacrifice are inextricably linked. Sacrifice is a public act of worship performed in the community’s name. Sacrifice, on the other hand, could never be carried out without the involvement of priests, highlighting the necessity of priesthood in religion. Man has always yearned for a specific intermediary between himself and the object of his worship. “It is on this note that Aristotle endorses the significance of having a priest in every community,”6 we will address the question of priesthood in religions in this long article, with a focus on the Igbo traditional priesthood and the Catholic priesthood. This lengthy essay will attempt to make a comparative analysis of the priesthood in these two religions, in addition to reiterating the indisputable importance of priesthood in these two religions.


In Igbo traditional priesthood, the viewer sees the priest as crooked and frayed. This is due to the fact that they wear ragged clothing, carry filthy bags, and a variety of other characteristics that cause them to be dreaded. This contributes to the general public’s perception that they are the sole perpetrators of evil in the community. They think of him as a fetish priest or an idolatrous priest, but no traditional Igbo priest worships idols or created artifacts. Nonetheless, they fail to see that they have dos and don’ts, and that their deity will punish them if they sin. Traditionalists think that their priests are true priests who are dedicated to offering sacrifices to the spirits for the welfare of humanity.


It is sad that many academics of African Traditional Religion have not treated this beautiful Igbo institution fairly. As a result, it has been subjected to incorrect labeling, caricature, derision, and disgust. The worst part is utter misunderstanding, misinterpretation, misrepresentation, or incorrect labeling, which Parrinder and Arinze[1] correctly identified as key impediments to the institution’s positive image in African religion.

Fetish priests, witch doctors, medicine men, sorcerers, magicians, juju-men satanic priests, and other terms have been used to describe Igbo traditional priests. They are seen as proponents of idolatrous worship by the majority of Christians and many others in diverse religious sects. Furthermore, throughout the world, this type of misunderstanding has resulted in a negative attitude toward learning and full scorn for it.


One could wonder what it is about the study of priesthood in Igbo traditional religion that still piques people’s attention in this day and age. The reason for this is that the institution has undergone a significant transformation as a result of Christian attitudes. This can be seen in their employment of evangelizing, conversion, and a variety of other tenets to face traditionalists. At the same time, warning them that they will not be able to join heaven until they convert to their own religion; (salvation). That is why I became interested in researching the priestly concepts of the two religions in great detail in order to conduct a fair comparison of the two.


The purpose of this lengthy article is to demonstrate that there is little distinction between Jews and Greeks. We will also realize that Christians (Catholics) serve their God in a conventional and approved manner, whereas traditionalists serve the same God in a traditional or natural but traditionally unaccepted manner (albeit in their own way), depending on one’s preference. It’s important to remember that traditional religion existed before the Christian religion. As a result, we hope that this lengthy article will contribute to our intellectual pursuits in the effort to preserve this institution.


Dealing with African Traditional Religion and Christianity in general is tough. As a result, we’d like to look at one of the major features that both religions share and then give our small contribution to the intellectual spheres. Our research focuses on the clergy. Then, in light of the second Vatican Council’s desire for interaction between Christianity and other faiths. (See, for example, Vat. II, Nostra Aetate). We’ll compare and contrast certain characteristics of Igbo traditional priesthood with Catholic understandings of priesthood to see where the similarities and contrasts lie.


A synthetic, interpretive, and explanatory analysis will be used in this project. Synthetic in the sense that important insights from diverse researchers on this topic will be gathered and used to gain a more thorough understanding of the subject at hand. I will try to make sense of this religious institution as an insider with some familiarity of the activities of some Igbo traditional priests. We use the term “expository” to suggest that all hidden meanings and many ambiguous terms will be revealed. These strategies will bring out the comparative nature of the long essay for good comprehension.


There are six chapters in this work. The first chapter is considered the work’s introduction. The backdrop of the study, the statement of the problem, the objective of the study, the significance of the study, the scope of the investigation, the methodology, and the division of work are all included. Chapter 2 is a survey of what other authors have stated about the topic, which includes Church texts, particularly Vatican Council II, and the Scriptures. Chapter 3 delves deeper into the Igbo traditional priesthood, including the Igbo priest’s vocation, training, installation or consecration, and functions. Chapter 4 delves more into the Catholic priesthood and its responsibilities, including the call to the office, training, ordination, and the priestly call to holiness.

Chapter 5 is a comparative study that looks at some of the similarities and differences between the priesthoods of both religions. The review and conclusion are found in Chapter 6. The bibliography comes last.


1 R. Otto, The Idea of Holy, Oxford University Press, London, 1958, p. 13


Introduction to Sociology, by I. Adelola (Ibadan: Evans Brothers Nig. Publishers Ltd., 1986), p. 53.


Ibid., p. 41.


4 E. Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Experience (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1977), p.2.


The Lower Niger and its Tribes, by A.G. Leonard (London: Frank Cass and Co. Ltd, 1968), p. 429.


6 F. Arinze, Sacrifice in Ibo Religion, 1970, Ch. 4, p. 62, quoting Aristotle


[1] F. Arinze, p.62, op. cit.

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