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CITY GIRL: What our Kenyan pastors can learn from Pope Francis

By NJOKI CHEGE November 27th, 2015 3 min read

I am not Catholic. In fact, the closest I have come to a Catholic Mass is watching the Papal sermon on TV. But this does not mean I don’t appreciate a few things about Catholics.

For instance, I really enjoy their music. As a Presbyterian raised in a rural PCEA church where we sang vernacular songs and hymns from ‘Golden Bells’, I find Catholic music refreshing. The Swahili is impeccable, their glorious and their beats joyful.

More importantly, I am a fan of the Pope. I follow his Twitter accounts; even Latin ones that I don’t understand.

I read everything about him I can lay my hands on. I watched him on his recent trip to Cuba and the US and how he gave the Congress a proper Come-to-Jesus; challenging it to break from its paralysis and to use its power to ‘heal open wounds’.


I loved the fact that he addresses sensitive issues like homosexuality.

I also like the fact that he is confronting priestly sexual abuse and reaching out to victims. When he was in the US, he tugged my heartstrings when he said ‘God weeps’ when children are sexually abused.

He also took time to reach out to prisoners and social misfits.

He is my kind of guy. Brilliant, interesting, warm, humorous but very courageous. I haven’t even mentioned what a meek and modest man he is.

Which is why I think Kenyan pastors can learn a thing or two about Pope Francis.

1. Be humble: Jesus rode on a mule. Pope Francis used a 1300cc Honda. And here you are asking the flock to buy a Land Cruiser for your birthday. Get over yourself and learn a thing or two from Papa. He is the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics but opts for a modest car.

You are the daddy pastor of 1,200 desperate Kenyans and your home garage resembles a vehicle showroom. Francis doesn’t even own a private jet yet some of you have fuel guzzlers and high-end motorbikes you have no use for.

It is a shame that you are using your social media account to show off your wealth as the Pope uses Twitter to comfort the afflicted. He uses his time to reach out to the poor, prisoners and sexually abused children. What do you use your time for? Golfing in expensive clubs in and out of the country, sipping cognac and daring haters?

2. Be simple: Pope Francis occasionally cooks for himself. On his tour to Africa, as the rest of us were making noise about security, the 78-year old was only worried about mosquitoes! Yet some daddy pastors walk around with a battalion of bodyguards as if they are carrying the tablets with the 10 Commandments.

3. Be a servant: Pope Francis washes the feet of prisoners. You, a daddy pastor thinks congregants are your servants in your little kingdom, you are the alpha and omega. Nobody questions you. Nobody asks how money was spent because they are afraid.

As the Pope asks to pray for everyone, here you are charging poor people for prayers. When you are in town, your minions line up the road, cleaning it for you as if you are some sort of god.

If the Pope can humble himself and wash smelly feet, what right does your wife have to ask the congregation to stand and applause as you prance towards the pulpit?

4. Have content: One of the things I love about the Pope is his nature to address topics we would rather sweep under the carpet. Homosexuality, sexual abuse, you name it.

You, on the other hand, are stuck on the prosperity gospel. You are always talking about giving and tithing.
Have you nothing else to talk about? How about beginning by telling us how you spend church funds? That is just before you move on to your source of wealth.

But then again, I think it would be unfair to expect depth and wisdom from a group never known to possess these qualities.

5. Be a source of comfort: The Pope reaches out to the sick, disabled, deformed, sexually abused, refugees and those hurting.

He is the source of comfort. You, on the other hand, are a source of affliction. Tabloids are full of scandals about you. Because you must drink and drive, you leave destruction and pain in your wake. You make children orphans and try to cover it up.

You should learn from Pope Francis. Wherever he goes, he leaves blessings.

Why are you an embarrassment to the spirit and letter of shephardism: To build and heal?

Note: Any daddy or mummy pastors who are uncomfortable and feel that this article is disrespectful and would like to take legal action must do so through proper channels.

Do not vilify me in your sermons and private talks with your sycophantic congregants, some of whom happen to be my colleagues.

I ask you, to bring the curses and the lawsuits one by one, of course, in no particular order.