Clergymen In Nigeria Should Look Up To Pope Francis

Clergymen In Nigeria Should Look Up To Pope Francis

Editor's note: On Tuesday, Pope Francis stepped on the American soil for the first time since his acclamation. No doubt, many Nigerians are following the Pope's movements and actions, noting his austere lifestyle which contrasts sharply with our extravagant "private jet flying" pastors. The columnist, 'Yomi Kazeem, draws parallels between the Pope and clergymen in Nigeria, highlighting why he could be a great example – not just with regards to lifestyle, but also with regard to playing a role in policy discussions.

Clergymen In Nigeria Should Look Up To Pope Francis
Pope Francis after leading an evening prayer service Thursday, September 24, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York

Photo credit: Jason Decrow/AP (via CNN)

As he visits the United States of America for the first time ever, Pope Francis is once again in the spotlight as he has been since beginning the papacy. Since becoming the leader of the Catholic Church in March 2013, Pope Francis has warmed his way into the heart of billions across the world with his big heart, humility, modern-day grasp of issues and bravery in confronting and dealing with issues previously deemed too sensitive to be resolved.

His popularity has seen him named Person of the Year by Time Magazine and also appear on the cover of urbane pop culture magazine, Rolling Stone – a rarity for clergymen. His actions have not been limited to famous magazines, though, as the Pope has also been strongly vocal and involved with global issues such as climate change

Nigerian men of God can learn a lot from Pope Francis

For clergymen in Nigeria, the Pope sets a great example. Rather than limit the compelling strength of his voice to issues concerning the church alone, the Pope has been keen to serve as a global thought leader playing key roles in policy advocacy and formulation. In truth, some Nigerian clergymen seek to play roles in the wider polity in the nation, but too often, we find that others choose silence in the face of brazen impunity from leaders in Nigeria.

Even more depressing is the fact that, in some cases, persons of questionable character and integrity with largely corrupt tenures in public offices are held up as role models and given a hero’s welcome.

It is key to understand that history shows clearly that some of the world’s leading lights in civil rights movements and advocacy were clergymen, hence, the argument around the morality of clergymen getting involved in civil advocacy is dead on arrival. Martin Luther King Jnr and Malcolm X – two defining people in America’s Civil Rights movement – were known clergymen who did not shy away from getting involved when they needed to.

Given the large congregation they command and the reverence they enjoy, having clergymen leading some advocacy causes in Nigeria would yield more results than choosing silence.


The real mission of the clergy

Critically though, on a personal level, the appeal of Pope Francis stems mainly from the man himself and a key attribute he possesses and effortlessly emanates: humility.

Asides involvement in advocacy, the Pope’s austere life is another example that can be emulated. The religious leader of 1.2 billion people, Pope Francis is a very powerful man but one who serves as an exemplary reference point for other religious leaders across the world. Despite the power he wields, the Pope remains modest — not by circumstance but by choice — seemingly keen to have focus placed more on his office than on the man who occupies it; a stark contrast with some leading clergymen in Nigeria.

Leading the wealthiest institution in the world with access to riches that trump annual revenues of some of the world’s leading corporations, Pope Francis persistently maintains an austere life. Around these parts, where flamboyant extravagance is the norm, the Pope’s modesty is extremely refreshing.

Nigerians are a hugely religious people, and clergymen play an immense role in shaping views... but perhaps they can do more. Like the Pope, they can become more dominant thought leaders in public affairs and advocacy thus creating a better Nigeria for the millions who form their congregation, because ultimately, a better Nigeria means a better country for the millions of people they lead. At the very least, they deserve that.

Clergymen In Nigeria Should Look Up To Pope Francis
'Yomi Kazeem for

‘Yomi Kazeem is a media professional based in Lagos, Nigeria.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of, its editors or other contributors.


Khadijah Thabit avatar

Khadijah Thabit (Copyeditor) Khadijah Thabit is an editor with over 3 years of experience editing and managing contents such as articles, blogs, newsletters and social leads. She has a BA in English and Literary Studies from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Khadijah joined in September 2020 as a copyeditor and proofreader for the Human Interest, Current Affairs, Business, Sports and PR desks. As a grammar police, she develops her skills by reading novels and dictionaries. Email:

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