WHEN JOHN Paul II visited Uganda in 1993, I was still a little girl but I recall the excitement all around me. Churches were busting with activity as choirs rehearsed for the anticipated visit. There were also numerous radio announcements and of course Papal merchandise.
Kampala’s streets and shops were well stocked with paper hats, badges, pens, calendars and even buckets bearing the name and image of John Paul II. You should have seen us showing off what our parents had bought us once we returned to school for First Term.
Back then, I was fascinated by the Catholic Church, perhaps because I was attending an all-girl Catholic boarding school. We had Mass every day, sometimes even twice and didn’t only wear the Rosary but recited it every morning and evening. It and dozens of other prayers. We rubbed shoulders with nuns and priests, some of whom taught us. We idolized them to the extent that some of us even contemplated becoming nuns.
I should look up my OGs to see if any of them actually did. I stayed Catholic until 2005 although I have to confess I’d been doing some church hopping for at least a year. I’m Pentecostal now and one of the reasons I switched camps was the monotony. If you’ve been to Mass, you know what I’m talking about. First reading, second reading, a couple of hymns, then offertory, another hymn, Communion and eventually the Blessing. Same routine year in and out. I got bored and found myself drawn to the praise and worship Pentecostal churches are famous for. Creflo Dollar, John Hagee, Joel Osteen and preachers of their kind were absent in the Catholic Church.
Pentecostal I might be but some Catholic practices have been hard to break. I still make the sign of the Cross before meals and recite the Lord’s Prayer on occasion. Heck I even tune in to Radio Maria for live Mass broadcasts. Guess a part of me will always be Catholic.
When Benedict XVI announced his resignation, I held my breath. I’m glad it wasn’t some dirty scandal and I’m glad changes like these are happening in an institution bent on upholding century-old traditions. We’ve been warned that Pope Francis is conservatism itself but I’m optimistic that with time, we’ll see more reforms. Reforms like women being ordained.
Somebody send the Pope a Joyce Meyer tape and maybe he’ll realise that women can hold their own with the Word. We also need more life in Church. Nothing wrong with dancing along to Kirk Franklin in the House of God. As for those child molestation scandals that just won’t go away, let those priests and nuns who want to marry do so. Sometimes we stick to rules which do nothing but make monsters of us. What would you rather have? A priest sodomising children or a happily married one? Father Bernard Lynch, an openly gay priest hosted on BBC’s HardTalk expressed his disappointment in a church willing to ‘forgive’ and cover up for men with multiple sexual crimes but won’t embrace a man who loves and is committed to another man. The church needs to accept the fact that times have changed and so must our attitudes. I had thought a much younger Pope would be chosen this time but now I see lots of possibilities in the 76-year-old’s election. If we’re lucky, he’ll step down in six or seven years and who knows, an African might then be chosen. One other thing, it would be nice to involve the 1.2 billion Catholics in the voting process.
In the spirit of opening things up, any Catholic, should get a shot, in which case candidates would declare their manifestos and campaign the same way politicians do. Imagine the prospect of debates! In English, not Latin. The sheep would then decide who the best man or woman is for the job. You know this will eventually happen, don’t you?
To be continued…