Mutharika wants Catholic bishops meeting ahead of Pastoral letter

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has asked a meeting with the Bishops of the influential Catholic Church to persuade them to tone down their Pastoral Letter expected to be issued at the end of Lent period.

Mutharika also wants to meet the bishops to plead with head of Episcopal Conference of Malawi, His Grace Bishop Joseph Mukasa Zuza to retract his homily in which he described leaders who think know everything as the most foolish (Chindre chakufikapo). If it is not Zuza retracting, he wants the other bishops to distance themselves from Zuza’s homily.

“The president is exerting pressure on the Catholic bishops. He wants an urgent meeting with them. The President wants to ask for support from the bishops. This is coming following the preaching noticed recently by some priests who are openly telling their flock not to support him,” a government official said.

Catholic bishops:Influential

A source at the Catholic secretariat said four ministers went to the Catholic offices last week to meet the ECM secretary general Fr. George Buleya to fix an appointment with the bishops.

Church sources confirmed that Mutharika is desperately looking forward to a meeting with the bishops to discuss various issues among them pleading for their support and a retraction of Bishop Zuza’s homily.

But the Church officials say Bishop Zuza cannot retract his homily nor the other bishops disown their friend.

During national prayers last year Bishop Zuza delivered a moving homily in which he attacked leaders that do not take advice from others as the most foolish. A week later when opening agriculture fair, Mutharika said Zuza’s homily was referring to him and warned that he would have been killed if it were during the one party era.

Mutharika has been  tipped that the Catholic Bishops had drafted a strongly worded letter reminiscent of the one, which challenged the prevailing culture of silence during the one-party dictatorship of Dr. Kamuzu Banda.

In the historical “Living Our Faith,” pastoral letter of 1992, the bishops reproached the Banda regime for its authoritarianism and lack of representative democracy.

Priestly sources in the church said the draft Lenten letter denounced corruption and stealing in government, business, and private life, human rights abuses and called for “communal renewal”.

According to the sources, the letter said that renewal and justice demand restitution.

The message was also critical of the present governance particularly in the areas of rule of law and lack of respect for other arms of governments such as judiciary and legislator.

Mutharika is a Roman Catholic who joined the church in 2003 because of politics in order to gain support from the huge Catholic community in the country.

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