The Vatican may not be happy with my opinions, with what I want to say here, but I stand to be corrected if it is not the truth. The truth! Yes the truth for which Jesus Christ, the founder of the Church was put to death (Jn. 18: 38). Anyway, I do not expect a repeat of history. I still know at least the Vatican may not be so angry with me as much as it was with the publications of Serge BilÃ©, especially his explosive work titled Â« Et si Dieu n`aimait pas les Noirs: EnquÃªte sur le rascisme aujourd`hui au VaticanÂ», [which translates Â«And if God was not loving the Blacks: An Investigation on the racism in the VaticanÂ»]. Apparently the title summarises the author`s focal point of reflection. In it he exposes very concretely the nature of racism and injustice against Blacks â€“ Africans right at the door steps of the Vatican, the Capital City of the Universal Church â€“ the Body of Christ on earth.
What I see: The paradox of Injustice.
The Church is the Body of Christ. That is our belief and truly the Church is. The number one man of the Church â€“ the Holy Father Pope Benedict XIV, from Friday 18 â€“ Sunday 20 November, 2011 will be in the Republic of Benin on his second journey to Africa since his papacy. At that occasion, he is going to sign a postsynodal apostolic exhortation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. Do you know, the theme of this synod is itemised in: Â«The Church at the service of Reconciliation, Justice and PeaceÂ», which follows from the former synod that saw the Church in Africa as the Family of God. Huuh! the Church at the service of justice or injustice? Spare me the crap!
How can an architect of injustice also be determining the principles for justice, peace and reconciliation? At least the indices are clear in the human face of the Church all over. Serge BilÃ© takes time to pour out with real facts, supported by interviews on the series of injustices against the Blacks, right there in the very nose of the pope, who is now coming to Benin and will be signing a blue-print for fight against injustice. I also know, Benedict XVI, as Joseph Ratzinger had spent a greater part of his life in the Vatican, theologising and supervising several ecclesiastical commissions. I still know that some of those commissions were and are not innocent of these injustices which are often times skilfully planned and executed against Blacks. Was he not there (as BilÃ© claims) witnessing how many black priests, either with various responsibilities in the Vatican or even on mere visit were and are still discriminated against? Was he not there and/or has he not been there (and now as the Pope) to see many of them even been banished for one reason or the other? Think of it for a minute, what actually frustrated the very charismatic Zambian Archbishop, Msgr. Emmanuel Milingo, to the point of renouncing the Church that he laboured for all through the vegetative part of his life and taken up a wife, if not in reaction against forces he saw that were both humanly and Godly unjust? Was he, who is coming to Benin â€“ Africa to consolidate Catholic-Christian evangelisation in Africa, was he not there in the Vatican when many African religious (reverend sisters), whose roman congregations bring to Rome in response to their own vocation crisis, are turned into tools for all sorts of dehumanising works? Many become frustrated and by consequence are forced into prostitution. BilÃ© goes on to uncover many other obscurities and contradictions that the Church`s agents in the Vatican champion, which are updated till this moment as I speak. Now tell me, what injustice is comparable to these, under the very nose of the Pope â€“ in the Vatican City? Can somebody give what he has not?
And I see more.
To begin with, is it not unjust, the very fact that a synod to address the problems of the Church in Africa was conceived and held, not on an African soil but on a European soil? This could as well be seen as the same thing which happens in the other institutions whereby solutions to African problems are discussed and proposed from European and American tables in Paris, New York and Washington, Bruxelles, The Hague, etc. Of course there can never be a way African problems can be addressed with European or Americans solutions no matter how religious the principles might be. This is the greatest injustice the world has known in our time against the African man. My European and American counterparts know it so well and are very comfortable with it. But is the African man happy and comfortable with this state of affair? It is clear that the Europeans and Americans play their card very well; at all costs, they know what they want â€“ maintenance of a permanent interest, namely, the Bible on one hand, and colonialism/neo-colonialism/imperialism/Occidentalism on the other hand. In few days time as well, the leader of the millions of Catholics all over the world will repeat and/or consolidate that permanent interest â€“ a message of evangelisation on one hand, and the rest on the other hand. You can imagine it. Nobody seems to be bordered, or pays attention to the fact that the Goodnews has to be contextualised in every environment. Take a critical look at what the early missionaries did in Africa.
I stand to be corrected if this is not the scene. If this is not true, please correct me. Imagine it, how many years has the Church existed in Africa? Ok, in Benin, we are also going to mark, as announced last Monday by Fr. Federico Lombardi â€“ the director of the Vatican press office, the 150 years of the announce of the Gospel on African soil, from the Republic of Benin. We can see the much impact of this in all parts of Africa â€“ booming vocation to the priesthood and religious lives, churches that are filled to the brim even when there is no church building, etc. All these are equally subject to questions as much. This is because, if this kind of record is noticed, and yet the African remains perpetually a slave to his counterparts in Europe, America and now Asia, then those custodians of that evangelisation packaged for Africa should be asked questions. The fundamental Christian principle holds all to be equal in Christ Jesus. But are we? I expect the Pope to address these questions, as I also ask the noble missionaries that first came to Africa, as well as many of them that are still there now: what truly was and is you interest in coming to evangelise the Africans? I have seen many of them in this part of West and North Africa become anthropologists and tourist guides over-night, instead of or under the pretext of being missionaries. If not, why then is the Christianity practised in Africa still remaining syncretic?
The Injustice continues till 2011.
Let us ask boldly. What was the Church`s position (under the Pope coming to Benin â€“ Africa on Friday) on what happened in Cote D`Ivoire and Libya, vis-Ã -vis the bombardment of these countries by European forces? The Church was just quiet, watching French troops and arms, as well as British and American war planes invade the African soil under the cover-up of protecting the civilian population. You and I truly know it was more an affair of protecting the western interest in the Ivorian cocoa and Libyan oil more than civilian lives. The Vatican cannot swear to be ignorant of this. If not, why hasnâ€™t the same argument been used in countries like Yemen, Syria etc., where there is even more repression and killing of civilians. Can you count how many innocent lives that was lost in these invasions? The Church submits totally to the principles of people who are truly not interested in how many human lives are lost, so far as their economic interest in cocoa and oil is not tampered with by either Laurent Gbagbo or Muammar Gaddafi. I remember when Gaddafi`s young son and his two grand children were earlier killed in Tripoli; the testimony of the Catholic Bishop in Tripoli, who had gone in person to pay his condolence to Gaddafi`s family, was sought to condemn the act. Very unbelievably, few weeks later, the Church, the Vatican aligns herself with all the resolutions of secular states, whose political and economic principles lack theological or even the least religious principles.
Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, you are welcome once again to Africa, to the Republic of Benin this time around. What are you truly bringing this time? Do you no longer have the message of evangelisation on one hand, and still neo-colonialist intentions on the other? What assurance can you give the African Catholic-Christians, who are victims of injustices in various packages at all spheres of the international community? If not, I really wonder how the Â«pastoral billÂ» on justice, peace and reconciliation that you are going to sign in Benin will be justified. Truly, the Church exists in a human society, and is necessarily, consciously or unconsciously influenced by that society, which most unfortunately is unjust to the Blacks â€“ Africans, even with no remorse of conscience. It is therefore a great challenge to the Church in attempting to mediate in justice and peace talks. This is a society that is structured very bizarrely with the slave-master relationship; the Whites who see themselves as the masters, and the Blacks who are obliged (at all costs even with the destruction of human life) to remain the slaves with all its implications. That remains the fundamental problem, the greatest injustice in the history of man. So how credible will the Church`s message be today if this problem is not given a more urgent attention? I still stand to be corrected, if truly God loves the Blacks (Africans).
To be continued, upon us have mercy Lord!
Chimaobi Clement EMEFU,