Catholic bishops issue pastoral letter, call for New Era in Malawi

Catholic bishops in the country, under the umbrella of the influential  Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), have said Malawi needs a change of direction, lamenting that the hard-won democracy has not yielded fruits people anticipated.

Malawi Catholic Bishops have said Malawi needs a change of direction

The pastoral letter set to be read out in all Catholic churches today—the fifth Sunday of Easter in the Catholic calendar—observes that 54 years after independence, Malawians are still wallowing in poverty as the few “exercise power band enjoy wealth at the expense of the majority”.

In the preamble of their 16-page Pastoral Letter titled: ‘A Call For A New Era In Malawi’, the bishops say they are saddened to note that the hard-won freedom and democratic dispensation in the country have not brought hope to Malawians.

“We have observed with deep sorrow that the majority of the people in this country still languish under the yokes of poverty, ignorance, disease hunger a seriously distorted mindset that has led to a dangerous moral decadence in our society,” say the bishops in the Pastoral Letter, which is divided in three chapters.

In the first chapter titled ‘Need for a New Era in Malawi’, among other issues, the bishops say they are commissioned to preach the Gospel “whether  it is convenient or inconvenient”  (2 Timothy 4:2), noting that there is something wrong in our society that needs to be put right.

“We are of the opinion that Malawi, as a nation, needs a change of direction if we are to reverse the situation.

“We mean a total change in the way of doing things other than ‘business as usual,” the bishops say.

They go on to ask Malawians to take stock of whether the current system of government has over the years delivered on its promise to uplift the lives of all the citizens or whether the country paid lip-service to democracy by allowing a few people to exercise power and authority and enjoy the wealth of this country at the expense of the vast majority.

“We must never pretend that all is well,” the bishops advise.

They go on to remind Malawians that the period before multiparty democracy was a period of darkness and gloom as highlighted in their 1992 Pastoral Letter, Living Our Faith.

In the same chapter, the bishops underscore the importance of intra-party democracy, saying it is mainly through their chosen political parties that Malawians find full expression of their political rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.

“Regretfully, most if not all political parties in Malawi, have since 1993 failed to promote intra-party democracy,” say the bishops, further drawing Malawians’ attention to their 2008 Pastoral Letter titled Taking Responsibility for Our Future and Reading the Signs of the Times.

Among a list of examples of lack of intra-party democracy in the parties, the bishops say, key decisions  are made by the party leader alone and sometimes only upon consultation with cronies, hangers-on or tribesmen.

They warn that the country cannot expect party leaders who stifle intra-party democracy to suddenly become democrats once they are in government.

But the bishops also warn that the success of entrenching democracy in the country largely depends on citizens’ understanding and participating in democracy.

Towards the end of the chapter the bishops warn about what they call ‘the big man syndrome’, which they say is seen in the extensive appointing powers of the president of party officials and tribesmen to government departments and agencies.

“This gives the impression that government only exists to benefit a connected few,” the bishops say, adding that clearly there are not enough checks and balances, and proper separation of powers among the three main branches of government.

They further advise the country’s leadership at all levels to revisit their constitutional mandate, which is to govern solely for the benefit of the people of Malawi, and to appreciate that they hold their positions on trust.

In the Second Chapter titled ‘Public Service Delivery’, the bishops lament poor delivery of health services, with special mention of major referral facilities. They also talk about “institutionalised corruption across the whole medical spectrum.”

They also lament deplorable standards in education, before talking about agriculture and food security, infrastructure, destruction of the environment.

The bishops say it is a fallacy to think that 54 years after independence, people’s standard of living has improved, “because the opposite is true”.

They conclude the letter with the chapter on ‘The Forthcoming Tripartite Elections in 2019’, whose first topic is about ‘Initiating a New Era’.

The bishops say citizens are duty-bound to elect and put into positions of power people they trust to implement their pre-election promises or those who have demonstrated that they delivered on their promises while in previous leadership positions.

They also provide a list of what they consider to be qualities of a good leader, which they say include honesty, transformational leadership, selflessness, willingness to step down, above tribal/regional political interests and God-fearing.

While advocating change of mindset, the bishops warn that corrupt leadership is “propped up and kept in power by citizens who unjustly and selfishly enjoy the benefits of that leadership.”

In conclusion, the bishops call on Malawians to help to create a new era in the country.

According to them, they want an era where truth, fairness and respect for the dignity of all are observed.

“This means wisely choosing servant leaders who can become heroic agents of change,”, adding that these will be the heroes not only for the deeds they do but for the stand they take on unpopular issues.

The bishops end their letter by urging all Catholics and people of good will to discuss their letter at all levels.

The Pastoral Letter issued Sunday, has been signed by leaders of all the eight Catholic dioceses in the country, led by ECM bishop chairman Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa of Blantyre.

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Andrew
Guest
For those of us who followed the Pastoral Letter and past two events on people living with albinism, the Catholic Church has written two statements regretting over what their priest is alleged to have been involved. The priest has been suspended in order to be investigated. Even in the group of the 12 apostles of Jesus, one was a traitor, Judas Iscariot. In the priesthood, there are Judases. In every lifestyle there are judases. Are you going to condemn all apostles just because Judah’s was one of the traitors? Are you going to condemn all medical personnel because one of… Read more »
TEACHER
Guest
Oooh God please Remove the scales of blindness from the eyes of my fellow MALAWIANS so that we can see that BUSHIRI IS the only Answer to the hardships the country is facing Otherwise We will regret /Suffer like never before in human history PLEASE CSOS PAC CHIEFS CHURCH LEADERS CHIEFS PARENTS YOUTHS INVITE BUSHIRI TO COME AND HELP GOVERN THE COUNTRY AS WAS THE CASE WITH KAMUZU THE FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN /LESS PRIVILEGED IS NOW MAY GOD BLESS OUR LAND
#DzukaniAmalawi
Guest
This letter could have been written in 1985 and it would be as relevant then as it is today. The letter therefore should not have been addressed to the seasoned politicians but rather the general public; it is they who choose who governs. The voting public has so much power to define there destiny. They have therefore chosen to suffer in their lifetime and the generation after them. Theres something truly wrong with the people in general and less so with the politicians. “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims… but accomplices” George Orwell
Sign post
Guest
Since the dawn of multipartism in our country i don’t think the majority understand democracy. Electing leaders into positions has become the challenge thus why we have failed leaders who don”t put people first. People elect leaders because of what they have not for who they are. Imagine someone with the background of stealing can he make a good leader? If we are to have good leaders, we must first define them by the following; who are these people , what do they want from politics. With weak agricultural policies,the government cannot uplift lives of the rural masses.We have commodity… Read more »
Nalingula
Guest

Change is coming. Tribalistic ,Regionalistic politics are coming to an end.There will be resistance. From those who are Benefing from Tribal politics.But you can’t resist change.Young men and women.Those of mixed Tribe.Those who have grown up in the new Malawi.Where intermarriages is the order of the day .Where you can be born in Phalombe and marry in Karonga ,are bringing the Change .They are tired of Tribal /Regional politics.

pathumba banda
Guest

how? change is not coming unless u yourself tikusankhe ukhale president but if u think someone else ur lying

BANDABANDA
Guest

Can the Catholic Church issue a pastoral letter for priests who kill albinos and priests who have sexual relations and children? By the way, the Catholic Church tells its followers not to use contraception, and yet our high population is putting pressure on our resources at government and household level… and increasing poverty. Their decree is contributing to our poverty. The Catholic Church (and other churches) are to blame for our poverty and many other problems. Stop issuing these pastoral letters – it’s annoying because you are hypocrites.

Dipipi wa Yudiefu
Guest

You should be condemned to death because you are a dangerous person.

DR MANGA
Guest

THE CSOs HAVE SPOKEN,CALLISTA HAS SPOKEN,THE BISHOPS HAVE SPOKEN .DPP END IS NIGH.

THIS LETTER SHOWS THAT OUR CSOs WERE RIGHT TO HOLD DEMOS.

pathumba banda
Guest

wishful thinking. watifunsa ife omwe tinavotera DPP. inutu wanu sanawine ngakhale munamvotera 2014.

Gebuza
Guest
Kalata iyi ilibwino koma ndiyozungulira zungulira palibe chomwe ikuthandauza. Chomwe ndikudziwa ine ndichoti 1. Pac ndi ya roma inalephera mphamvu zao Katatu ndi dpp, 2. Pastoral letter ndi ya roma ikulephera mphamvu zake mabungwe amenewa anangodana ndikamuzu 1992 to 1994 boma limalanda ndrama kwa anthu roma imalandira ndrama kwa anthu omwe wo ndiye ngati boma linhatulutse zindrama kupatsa bishop angakane? That’s why alibe mphamvu tsopano, likabwera boma Lina losapereka ndrama kwa bishop or Pastor president aneneyo adzachotsedwa or kupezeka ndi ardiac monga mose bingu chifukwa azizamkwekwesa kawiri kawiri ziinetsero zambiri makalata amphavu kumupatsa. Koma sitinaone kalata yadirect kwa Bakili sitinaone… Read more »
Wodzitsata
Guest

Ma bishop ndiye ayankhula. Ndiye wina azinamiza anthu kuti ndikuchita support ma demonstration chifukwa ndikukhuzidwa ndi mavuto a wanthu chikhalirecho ndiwe wokumva zawekha. Akakutsutsa mkumawachotsa nchiyani. Ndiye ngati mukukula mtima musanalowe mboma kwanji mutatenga u president! Kuvala chikopa cha nkhosa mkati muli nkhandwe. A Malawi dzimvere mtolo. Ma bishop angodutsamo sanathyole nkhwani

Mo salah
Guest

Loud and clear. Verdict delivered . We are off track. The ship is taking a wrong direction. It’s not me saying. It’s the Bishops. Musova

pathumba banda
Guest

basi mukudalira ma bishop. inuyo mukuti chiyani. ma bishop anayendesapo dziko iwo . i respect them but they are human beings and thier thinking is like us. They rely on heresays

Malawian.
Guest
@ pathumba Banda Intelligent question and I have a pretty short answer to you buddy. I won’t use words as conveyed verbally or through writing to speak. Rather I will use my vote in May 2019 to communicate what lies in me. Back to you rather misplaced understanding of the pastoral letter . If you take your time to read the letter with a sober and mature mind and not as a sycophant you will find that every single issue that the bishops have touched on is factual. The issue of epileptic power supply is never a hearsay. Abuse of… Read more »
Dipipi wa Yudiefu
Guest

You should have written your comment in chichewa. He is a cadet, he can not understand the language. A Shona proverb which literally translates to “wosauka alibe chibalo”- someone who does not know where his next meal is going to come from when he is arrested because he is on the wrong side of the law, he gets at least a meal everyday in prison, he can never regret being there.

Sugzo
Guest
What do these people know? A majority of leaders are christians. The churches are failing to produce citizens who are upright and god fearing. Dont blame government as it can only recruit Malawians a majority of whom are your mambers. The churches have been blaming successive governments of plunder yet all the thieves are their own people who donate a lot of the stolen money to the church. Just take a look at cashgaters you will notice that the big looters are either Catholics or Seventh Day Adventists. Please Bishops instead of shifting the blame to government teach your members… Read more »

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