CAPTION: El Papa Fransisco Meets President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The papacy might be a controversial institution but it is beyond doubt that the Catholic church is one of the only remaining few institutions on earth that takes a very pragmatic approach towards tackling problems faced by our society today.

For a long time now, its dedicated clergy have been living and working amongst the poorest of the poor. They’ve built long-lasting support institutions, including schools and hospitals, among the less privileged. This is a complete contrast from the prosperity gospel, we hear of quite often nowadays, where everything can be solved through a miracle, and God’s blessings mean quick riches.

Unlike most of the so called contemporary charismatic churches that seem to revolve around their charismatic leaders, and may collapse if these leaders were to disappear from the scene; the Catholic church has a complex hierarchy of leadership that has lasted thousands of years.

If the pope exits the scene today, a new one will easily be chosen. the church will never be thrown into a panic mode because it is the papacy which comes with power, not the current holder of the office. No wonder the catholic church’s operations and immense power have stood the test of time.

Perhaps this is how God’s church was meant to operate in order to cushion it from the so called modernization! I believe there is no contemporary God. God never changes with the changing times. Haven’t we been told over and over that God is the same yesterday, today and forever? Then why do we keep on changing and complicating the ways of worshiping Him, in the name of catching up with the changing times?

Catholic leaders are meticulously chosen through a traditionally well laid down and rigorous procedure that ensures nobody wakes up one morning and declares himself a bishop, an apostle, mighty prophet or even Jehovah. That is why it looks so organised.

El Papa Francisco came to Kenya with a message of hope, when the church in the country seems to have completely failed to inspire or even stand up for its flock, even in the face of a gov’t that has been utterly unable to protect its citizens. Rogue government officials, have been on a blatant looting spree even as insecurity has been on an all time high, fueled by thoughtless corruption.

Many antagonists of the catholic church might say that the papacy assumes the place of God while some have christened the pope “the BEAST” in reference to the book of revelations in the bible. However, at least all are in agreement in one aspect. El Papa Francisco is the epitome of humility. He at least doesn’t move around in a bulletproof “beast” surrounded by a small army of security detail, with a snaking procession of armored vehicles, like our political leaders do. He could easily afford it if he wanted.

I might have not understood all he said in his native language but one thing he said stuck in my mind and seemed to stir something in me. “Indifference is one thing that makes God want to vomit!” isn’t it funny that the church in Kenya has been so indifferent? The contemporary church in Kenya finds it fashionable to identify itself with the powerful political class. That is why most of our clergy are too eager to preside over mock prayer rallies for politicians and completely shun the downtrodden Hoi-polloi.

Some pastors feel so proud and elated when a powerful politician comes calling in their church. They readily surrender the pulpit to the politician so that he can use it to propagate his tribal political agenda, as the congregation cheers him on! They will then post their selfies with the politician in the church website and their social media accounts. In other words, we celebrate our corrupt and crooked political class then later wonder why corruption is choking us!
I respect the pope for taking the corruption malady in Kenya head-on, in an extremely witty manner. He likened corruption to sugar, that is so sweet once we taste it, but if we take too much of it, our country risks becoming diabetic. Now, who on earth wants to be diabetic? We must collectively tackle corruption within our rank and file.

The pope inspired hope more than all our leaders combined.
The frenzy with which people received him shows a sense of desperation in the masses who feel oppressed and in dire need of salvation; in need of a really inspiring figure.
In such times, the flip-side is, people risk worshiping such an influential leader, especially if they lack a deep understanding of God.

The pope wields real power. The silent power that needs no chest-thumping. Power that leaves people in awe. He doesn’t need to remind anybody that he deserves respect. You automatically respect him when you scrutinize his modus operandi.

That is why people come up with all sorts of theories about the papacy. I suggest that we keep all the crap being said about the pope within the precincts of our various holier-than-though sects and cults, so that we don’t bore people with so many unfounded theories, when we actually have nothing to show about our faith in God. Let the pope be!

The church in Kenya needs to up its game. It can’t afford to be indifferent in the face of so many ills and injustices in society. Pandering to the political class exposes the church to bitter ridicule. It is better to take a wrong stand than to have none at all. There is no room for being lukewarm in issues that grossly affect society.
All people of goodwill must speak up against societal ills. There is no middle ground about this. You either take a stand or you have none.

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