I really like Pope Francis; he has a pastor's heart but he is a man. I am concerned that he chose to ignore the DIaspora in Cuba and here in America. I say amen to inclusivity and interfaith worship that includes leaders and elders of the Diaspora community. Where there not devotees of Ifa, Santeria, Palo and Vodou in the World Trade Center catastrophe? Are there not Botanicas and Diaspora houses of worship in NY, DC and Cuba?
The devotees, elders, priestesses and priest of the Diaspora must work diligently to lobby and educate politicians and community leaders about the Diaspora. Too often we only wear our ceremonial garb in private doing ritual. Otherwise we dress to to blend in when in the public. We hide our misengeles under our clothes as we move about in the marketplace of life, but we desire the ancestors and spirits to bless us openly. It's time to openly live the African life we confess as our faith. You should feel free to dress in a fashionable but cultural way that identifies with your faith in the Diaspora. The Pope wears the Palo Nkisi Tiembla Tierra's color which is all white, a cape and a skull cap. The Cardinals dress in Lucero's colors of red and black. They all carry the symbol of the crossroads which is a crucifix. Every religion represented on the dias with the Pope at the World Trade Center service wore their cultural garb. It is time devotees of the Diaspora cease being ashamed and stop hiding our faith and ceremonies. As long as we practice our faith in secret, we invite continued stigmas and prejudices against our rich cultural heritage.
Take the opportunity to educate the curious and seekers. Honor the ancestors by living your faith proudly and insist that governments everywhere and organized religion recognize and give the Diaspora the same respect.
Finally I happen to know that Pope John Paul sent an emissary to the late Ati Max Beauvoir in Haiti. Pope John Paul and Ati Max were having back channel talks about elevating Vodou into the interfaith community. Max was really excited and shared classified documents from the Vatican. Max and I shared this vision to elevate the Diaspora traditions and pledged our efforts to this end. Will you join me in honoring Max's and our ancestor's memory by being a voice for the Diaspora? Thank you.
Dr. Christos Kioni