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Are black leaders forgetting what Christianity is about?

HUMBLE: Pope Francis

THE CATHOLIC Church stunned the world with their choice of successor to Pope Benedict, Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio, now known as Pope Francis.

Not only did they choose the first non-European pope since 741AD, they chose a man for whom humility is a way of life. 

In his native Argentina, Pope Francis was renowned for spending time with the poorer and excluded members of the community, living in a simple apartment and travelling on public transport.

Since his appointment last month, Pope Francis has eschewed some of the trappings that go with his high office.  He has opted to live in a two roomed apartment instead of moving into the grand Papal apartment based in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.  He’s also made it known he will not wear the ceremonial cloak, trimmed with Ermine that popes wear on special occasions.

Pope Francis is a man of the people, and although he is now leader of one of the world’s most powerful institutions, he has made it clear that he aligns himself with the poor, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.

Some religious commentators have drawn parallels between the simple lifestyle of Pope Francis and the excess that characterises the lives of Pentecostal ministers.  J Lee Grady, former editor of leading religious magazine Charisma is one of them.  Writing in a recent edition he said: “Have you noticed a contrast between Pope Francis’ simple lifestyle and the sickening excess that is on display among some of our Pentecostal/charismatic leaders?”

He then cites the excesses that characterise the modern Pentecostal movement – ministers surrounded by bodyguards/ armour bearers, speakers flying into preaching engagements on private jets and giving event organisers the bill for petrol and church leaders thinking it’s OK to fleece the sheep by begging for money or seed offering on their TV shows or revival services.

Pentecostal/charismatic believers have always prided themselves on being part of a stream of Christianity where members have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit and hear directly from God. Yet it is this branch of Christianity where many excesses take place.

This is partly due to the inordinate influence of America on Pentecostals, the lack of accountability and the increased focus amongst leaders and lay members in the movement to enjoy life here on earth.  This has caused some to take their minds off the key tenets of the Christian faith. 

Let’s pray that Pope Francis’ papacy will cause people the world over, no matter their religious inclinations, or the branch of Christianity they are part of, to rethink the role of faith in their lives, how should they should live out their faith in the wider community and make them realise there is no room for excess.

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