Those of you, Bottom Up readers, fans, friends, fiends and detractors, who care and have ardently followed our quasi journalistic and quasi touristic escapades since March 2012 should know by now that we, Sheikh Jean-Philippe LePoisson, the affable Parisian who prefers African Umunthu to European individualism, Abiti Joyce Befu, also fondly known as MG 66, the former PTC lady till operator from Monkey Bay in Mangochi, Mzee Native Authority Mandela, the sage who has experienced colonial, one-party, and multiparty notoriety and mala-administration, and I, the Mohashoi, are not fond of discussing religious issues, matters and faiths. This we do because to us all religions, Rastafanism, Buddhism, Christianity, Animism, Atheism, Islam and Tribalism, matter as they provide guidelines on how to live our lives.
However, today, we will be judgemental and thank Pope Francis, Papa Francisco as he is called by Spanish speakers and Pape Francois as he is known among French speakers, head of the Catholic Church because he has saved Christianity from self-destruction.
Those who care, like we do, know that Pope Francis has saved Christianity from people who preyed on people’s misfortunes, hunger, disease and wars to make money. The rise and burgeoning of Pentecostalism in Malawi made Christianity a very expensive faith to follow. Money, tithing, rather than human salvation, was the emphasis. The big and traditional Christian faith groups and faith routes, namely Catholicism, Protestantism (Anglicanism and Africanism—such as the CCAP) were slowly giving way to the TB Joshuas, Ashimolowos, and Bushiris of Pentecostalism.
Sick people, hungry people, tired people, and hopeless people paid to be prayed for and given hope, happiness, children, food and energy to live the next day because the traditional church had forgotten this part of the Christian faith.
Pope Francis has come with a different approach. He has returned the Christian church to its roots. Christ Jesus preached peace and reconciliation. Pope Francis has managed to convince the Americans and Cubans about the need to live together, work together, prosper together, defend each other and, why not, die together. Today, Americans and Cubans are shedding the Cold War mistrust and coming together, doing business together and smiling together.
Pope Francis has reached out to apparently rival religions, mostly Islam, to demonstrate that people with different beliefs in God can and should live together. That is what he demonstrated when he visited Bangui, Central African Republic, and prayed with Muslims asking people of that country that religion should never be allowed to divide them.
Pope Francis has spent time cajoling so-called world leaders, the very people whose countries have been responsible for the world wars, colonialism, the slave trade, and the impoverishment of the third world to change course and start seeing the world in full colour, take responsibility for climate change and pay for rehabilitation of nature.
Pope Francis has endeared himself to youths and children, thus inculcating in these the spirit of love and respect for all human beings. This is one big investment for Christianity since a religious faith or movement without youth support has no future. Not only that, Pope Francis has mingled and dined with the poor to show that leaders and the ruled are only separated by fortune or misfortune.
It is time Christianity went back to the basics: serving the people and sick; giving hope to the hopeless; and helping children and the youth to grow up into reliable and responsible adults and leaders.
Pope Francis has one more urgent assignment this year 2015: stopping the war in the Middle East. The revolutions in the Middle East and the Maghreb would have had different outcomes had the West not been so arrogant and mean with the truth. We now know that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was based on executive falsehoods; we also know that the war in Syria has reached current proportions because the West, led by America, has been arming rebellions there. Today we can conclude that Isis is a product of the West because West-funded rebellions created political and military vacuums in northern Syria and north eastern Iraq. Naturally, Isis filled the vacuum.
Since Barak Obama, Francois Holland, David Cameron and other war mongers respect Pope Francis, the Pope should urgently ask them to stop the war in Syria and Iraq and let the people of that region free to pursue their individual and collective dreams. n