Leadership in the Catholic Church
His Grace Cyprian Archbishop Kizito Lwanga on Wednesday 17th December 2008 delegated Rev. Dr. Lawrence Ssemusu to deliver advent message centering on Leadership in the Catholic Church to the faithful at Mt.SPC. The Pastoral Coordinator of Kampala archdiocese, Dr.L Ssemusu remarked on the attentive and big turn up of many people who should be in offices or at work, freely interacted with Christians in a Q &A session that preceded the Holy Mass where he was also the main celebrant. Below are the excerpts of the talk.
Christian Leadership is instituted by God and rooted in the Bible. Ex 3:3-4 “He called to him from the middle of the bush and said, “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Yes, here I am.” God said, “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground”. “Remove your shoes”- in other words surrender; a leader does the will of the one who sends him not his own will. “Come I will send you Pharaoh” It is God himself who is sending Moses. There are many leaders but some leaders are not sent by God and they do not serve God’s purpose or concerns but do their own business.
Deuteronomy 31:1-8. Here Moses showed a successor to the Assembly of God’s people. It is God himself, who chooses leaders, but God uses people He himself has anointed, then God anoints those leaders. To be a leader one must be prayed over, for and then anointed. “Be brave and steadfast, the Lord will not abandon you” Like Moses a leader leads with God’s assurance, with courage through and into the promised country where God wishes (the purpose) not where the leader intends. A leader makes the people inherit promised possession but not to grab the peoples’ possession.
Deuteronomy 30:11-20 “The command that I am giving you today is not too difficult or beyond your reach. It is not up in the sky. You do not have to ask, ‘Who will go up and bring it down for us, so that we can hear it and obey it” A leader chooses between Life and Death, a Blessing or a Curse when he/she obeys or disobeys the commandments of God. “The word of God is not very far from you but in your heart”. As a leader of the people do you walk by the commandments of God?, and of the Church? 34:10-11 “There has never been a prophet in Israel like Moses; the LORD spoke with him face-to-face”. No other prophet has ever done miracles and wonders like those that the LORD sent Moses to perform…” Face to face is an intimacy with God, a Christian leader faces Jesus Christ. Christians must be vigilant because many leaders nowadays bring people from one type of bondage into other worse bondages.
The current chain of leadership Catholic Church is the only un-broken chain of leadership is in the between Jesus and the Pope. Mt.28:16-20, Jesus gave authority directly to the apostles and assured them “I am with you till the end” compare with Moses told Joshua “Be brave and steadfast, the Lord will not abandon you”. The authority of the Pope starts in these verses. Jn 20:19-23, “As the Father sent me, so I send you… If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Jesus gave FULL authority to the His Apostles. The Apostles in turn gave the same authority to their successors as we read in Acts of the Apostles up to the current Pope Benedict XVI. The Catholic Church is the only true Apostolic church the world over. Any church leader outside this chain is a self seeker. The Apostles Creed professed personally by each believer, alludes to the same fact. “I believe in the Holy Spirit,
“one holy catholic and apostolic church”.
The word “Catholic” in its original sense means “all-including”, “complete” and universal. Therefore in the church there is no “kano kaffe k’abalondemu”, meaning a clique of the selected few; this is not the catholic, universal apostolic chain of leadership from Jesus to the Apostles to the Bishops, Priests etc.. In church Tradition: The Pope is the vicar of Jesus Christ on earth.
In conclusion we reflect on the following critical points in the life a Christian leader;
- Being a Christian means Christ is in me and I in Christ.
- All that I do in life, I move with the Father Son and Holy Spirit, hence the sign of the Cross, at which the devil flees.
- The sign of the Cross honors the very Holy Cross on which we were saved; this is the wisdom and love of God.
- It is God who appoints and anoints leaders. Moses anointed Joshua; Jesus gave authority to Peter who is succeeded in an unbroken line up to the current Pope and the Bishops. These leaders exercise, give and share the same authority with various leaders in the church today.
Mother Church teaches from three sources; The Word of God – Scriptures, The Sacraments and Tradition.The Word alone is not enough Christians require confession and Eucharist etc. Jn 21:15-19, Jesus asked Peter three time before He gave him a job (leadership) A leader first and foremost must have love of God (face to face). Peter replied and gave different answers each time, “You know Lord that I love you” the second time Do you love me or something else? Fake love? False love? (kupanga obukulembeze ?) The third time Peter distressed answered “Lord, You know everything” Jesus then issued Peter with a receipt and proof of his love. Christian! Do you a have this receipt?
People who come to Mt.SPC please do not call yourself special no! It is not a clique, this is a universal centre in the church where we come and go back to spread the Good news. Those in the Charismatic Renewal must remain the universal church they are not a special people that should look down on those who are not; that way we remain the chain of leadership of the apostles.