“The poverty of the poor is not a call to generous relief action, but a demand that we go and build a different social order.”
― Gustavo Gutiérrez
On January 23, 2014, I yet again went to Kapingila (Zambia Episcopal Conference) House in Lusaka, Zambia. This, it now seems is one of my annual intellection inquiry pilgrims. Our Catholic bishops always have press briefings or issue Pastoral Statements on the state of the Nation at Kapingila House. On this day, like on similar days gone, I was yet again disillusioned.
Perhaps, I really shouldn’t bother anymore. But well, these are our spiritual leaders, and in my auld langsyne thoughts they still typify that hope the underprivileged among us seek. That ray of guidance, wisdom that would transform today into a better tomorrow.
In my yesteryear thoughts, these men of the cloak speak against the excesses of the State, misrule, injustice with no partiality or fear. They profess their views on the state of the Nation with unhindered and burdenless authority. After all, most do not seek the echelons of political power. All they seek is a just and dignified existence for us all.
On this day, January 23, 2014, it suddenly dawned on me that there has always been something amiss in the way the Bishops deliver their concerns on the state of the Nation. The language, which is to the point, is however seldom inspiring, and not likely to shake the devil in his boots. It always sounds to me like a lullaby of overt diplomacy and apologies.
In hindsight, maybe we do not realize that as, Gustavo Gutiérrez observes, “The denunciation of injustice implies the rejection of the use of Christianity to legitimize the established order”. To which end, it is inarguable that any apparent failings by spiritual leaders (Catholic or not) to say it as it is, is not only a spiritual leadership failing on their part, but also that it can be construed to mean all is well, but for a few corners that need straightening out. Denunciation of misrule, injustice has to just be that – as it is.
I left Kapingila House with a ruptured conscience. With the injustice, misrule these revered men of the cloak have so righteously observed, should they still be so moderate? Perhaps, it was my imagination? Or perhaps, I dwell in an utopian world of “no injustice allowed, no rhetoric accepted”.
Ora pro nobis.