Bishop John Ryan of Mzuzu Diocese of the Catholic Church and Vicar General of the Catholic Archdiocese of Blantyre Father Boniface Tamani have said in separate messages that the church prohibits its clergy from endorsing political candidates, and urging them to tread carefully when it comes to political activity.
Catholic leaders, including some priests and bishops, have not been shy about jumping into the fray of electoral politics with statements that in some cases amount to de facto endorsements.
But Bishop Professor Ryan said the church will not endorse any political party or steering fellow believers toward particular presidential candidate for the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections. .
He said Catholic bishops and priests operate within a strict hierarchical model, one in which public endorsements of political candidates are discouraged.
“As a Catholic Church, we cannot endorse any one leader. We will not endorse any one party,” said the bishop during the inauguration of St Mary’s Catholic Parish at Kasitu in Nkhotakota on Saturday.
But the bishop said the influential Catholic Church will give Malawians tips on the quality of leaders to look for in the forthcoming Tripartite Elections.
Ryan said the Church guidelines for qualities of a leader are contained in a pastoral letter titled Call for a New Era endorsed by Catholic bishops in the country in May this year.
He said the Episcopal Conference of Malawi agreed to guide Malawians to look for a leader with qualities that include God-fearing and one who is above tribal, religion, political and church interest.
In his sermon at a separate church event, Fr Tamani said they don’t see a need to invite the sorts of divisions that politics often brings by supporting a particular party of candidate.
“It’s not the responsibility of the church to tell you to vote for this party, or this candidate. The church will never side with a political party,” said Tamani.
“We would like people who are trying the best. There is no perfect leader because he or she is a human being prone to make mistakes,” he said.
Tamani asked the Catholics to put God first in their lives.
The Catholic Church’s social services infrastructure is vast and it has large following hence being influential.