Pop goes the Patriarch

If you think Rowan Williams has a hard time from the press, you might spare a thought for the Patriarch of Ethiopia. His Holiness Abune Paulos I has come in for considerable criticism over the past week after showing Beyoncé round his cathedral and expressing a desire for her to visit the country again.

In a provocative piece entitled "Why Is Our Pope Praying For Beyoncé's Second Coming?" the London-based dissident Abebe Gelaw demanded to know why the patriarch was so keen to be associated with a superstar "whose messages have no spiritual content other than promoting the temptations and sins of our time that he condemns in his daily sermons."

He goes on:
A short list of Beyoncé Knowles’ song titles are enough to reveal the fact that her songs contain no trace of gospel messages or praises to the Almighty. Crazy in Love, Naughty Girl, Get Me Bodied, Suga Mama, Beautiful Liar and The Last Great Seduction are a few among the many songs that have made Beyoncé so popular around the world.
Any devout Christian may consider the story itself a fictitious blasphemy but he did it on the record in front of local and international media.

Shocking stuff. And it gets worse: the Ethiopian News Agency even released "a colour photo of our patriarch with Beyoncé Knowles surrounded by bemused priests... The picture shows that she was standing beneath an emblazoned umbrella as if she was carrying the Holy Ark of the Covenant."

Not that Abebe Gelaw has anything against Beyoncé. "It was good that she went to see his Holiness Abune Paulos," he conceeds, however sinful her music. But why did the Patriarch want to see her? "Has he expected her to help him spread the gospel with her lustrous songs and dances? I hope not." Many believers, he warns,

...would be abhorred to see their patriarch joining the Beyoncé Knowles’ fans club. Followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church expect His Holiness Abune Paulos to pray for the Second Coming of Christ our Redeemer. Contrary to that, the second coming of Beyonce can only make our mortal sins and temptations worse dancing to her seductive tunes.

Miss Knowles was in Addis Ababa the other week to help celebrate the belated Ethiopian millennium and to launch her world tour. "I am very honoured to have been in this beautiful place and I can't wait to come back here again" she told the local press, describing Ethiopia as "like a second home". No doubt the fact that all the beggars were cleared off the streets in readiness for her visit made it seem all the more beautiful.

Springing to Beyoncé's defence (well, sort of) on Friday was Haregwein Sileshi. "Some of you cried that Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Orthodox church has come to an end and is disgraced by Beyonce's presence in the Kidist Selassie Church," he wrote, simply because

This young lady... needs Redemption and she SOUGHT it. I used the word "sought" on purpose, because it appears that she graced herself with Ethiopian traditional cloth not in one of those miserable looking things she used for her performance... just because she stepped her foot into our Holly church (sic) doesn't mean the church legacy, grace, history, and integrity will crumble upon our feet! I am praying for her to realize what she does is sinful, and she could ask forgiveness to the road of Redemption.

This isn't the first time that Princeton-educated Patriarch Paulos has had trouble with Western pop stars. A couple of years ago he was less than thrilled when Bob Geldof suggested he should set an example to his AIDS-ravaged country by getting an HIV test.


Anonymous said…
Orthodox church has much apology to make in Western World:
protocommunist massacres by Palamite Zealotes under Hesychast
hyperventilatory halucinations, Cantacuzene taxation driving farmers
to embrace Turks, Komyakoviac Obshchina giving birth to soviet
communism as reactionary casuistry opposing Napoleon's
defeudalization, Cosmus Aitalius being patron originator of of modern
genocide as seen by the massacre of Turks in Crete by Venizelos. Is
all masochistic because reject Original Sin.

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