Catholic Church deplores rapid environmental degradation, murder of older persons

President of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) Archbishop George Desmond Tambala has expressed disappointment with the rate at which Malawians are degrading the environment and continued attacks and murder of older persons.

Tambala has since appealed to politicians and ordinary citizens to take personal responsibility in protecting both the environment and elderly persons in their respective communities.

He made the remarks in Lilongwe on Wednesday evening during an interface engagement with lawmakers that belong to the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Tambala delivering a homily to Catholic MPs on Wednesday evening

Archbishop Tambala – who also heads the Archdiocese of Lilongwe – said time has come for Malawi to formulate and enact laws that are progressive enough to protect the environment in the spirit of Laudato Si (the second encyclical of Pope Francis, which has the subtitle on care for our common home).

“The world is now fighting plastic pollution, unbearable heat and the burden of diseases such as cholera. We are rolling in a downward spiral and it is our responsibility to bring this to a halt,” he said.

Describing the church and parliament as mercenaries in the fight against environmental degradation, Archbishop Tambala said it was against this background that ECM decided to ‘bring you [MPs] together based on a shared conviction that we need to regroup, brainstorm and align to ensure that we are all pulling I the same direction’.

He called upon the MPs and the church to reflect on a common appeal of their spirituality and patriotism.

He further challenged MPs and the church to reflect on the abuses and suffering of old persons in Malawi, observing that elderly people are one of the segments of the Malawian population who face numerous human rights violations and injustices despite the country having laws and policies in place to protect them.

At this point, Archbishop Tambala appealed to legislators to consider fast-tracking the tabling and enacting of the Older Persons Bill to arrest attacks and killings of older persons based on witchcraft accusations.

“The elderly people continue to be abused by family members, community members, strangers, healthcare providers and caregivers as well as other duty-bearers at all levels. In most cases, we have seen banishing, burning property and killing of older persons as a deplorable state of affairs in this country. We cannot continue on this trajectory where the elderly in our communities are subjected to torture and humiliation,” he emphasized.

During the interface engagement, Malawi Network of Older Persons Organiztaion (MANEPO) Executive Director Andrew Kavala disclosed that 72 older persons have been killed in two years over witchcraft accusations.

But Kavala decried lack of interest by the judiciary to try and conclude cases of suspected murderers of elderly persons.

“To date, none of the 72 cases has been tried and concluded. This is very unfortunate,” he said.

Leader of the Catholic Community in Malawi Parliament, Deus Gumba, assured the church of the commitment by President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera to addressing environmental degradation and protecting the elderly in Malawi.

Gumba stated that President Chakwera, being in his 60s, is equally concerned with the attacks targeting old and frail generation.

“As Catholic MPs, we wish to assure you that we will collaborate with the church in fighting the vices,” he said.

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