Friday, April 15, 2011

Slandering Catholics

Slandering Catholics
By The Post
Fri 15 Apr. 2011, 04:00 CAT

It requires little intelligence – if little is all one has – to see and understand that the leadership of Rupiah Banda’s government and the MMD is waging a campaign to malign, slander, humiliate, demonise the Catholic Church and its leadership.

But why should this be so? Our simple explanation is that genuine goodness is threatening to those on the opposite end of the moral spectrum.

Rupiah’s government and party are today attacking the Catholic Church and its leadership because this church reminds them of the need to pay attention to human needs and sufferings.

But in reality, the Catholic Church is only fulfilling its responsibility – the duty to speak for the poor and disadvantaged in accordance with the biblical directive: “Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves.

Protect the rights of all who are helpless. Speak for them and be a righteous judge. Protect the rights of the poor and the needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9).

If Rupiah and his friends were truly and selflessly concerned about the plight of the poor and the needy, the right relationship between them and the Catholic leadership would be that of partnership rather than enmity.

And when it comes to the issues of speaking out for the poor and the needy and defending their rights, the Catholic Church and its leadership will be “political” but not “partisan”.

It is the duty of the leadership of the Catholic Church, that is priests, bishops, cardinals and indeed the Pope himself to guide nations in matters that affect the lives of their citizens in the light of gospel values.

And the leadership of the Catholic Church, by reason of its role and competence, is not bound to any political system.

It simply contributes toward the reign of justice and charity within the borders of a nation and between nations.

We have paid a lot of attention, we pay a lot of attention to the teachings of the leadership of the Catholic Church on many issues that affect our people and our country.

And what we have come to realise and fully appreciate is the fact that the leadership of the Catholic Church greatly values the democratic system inasmuch as it ensures the participation of our people in all their diversities and complexities in making political choices, guarantees to the governed the possibility of electing and holding accountable those who govern them, and of replacing them through peaceful means when appropriate.

To this end, the leadership of the Catholic Church has been consistently calling on all our people to participate actively and responsibly in civil society.

We think this is so because in civil society, people come together with different interests to work for the common good. Government and civil society should co-operate together and individuals should be obliged to make their specific contributions to the common good.

And we can make a difference if we get fully involved in national affairs, and especially if we are guided by noble ideas and sentiments.

Looked at in this way, it is easy to see that the Catholic leadership has both the right and duty to participate fully in building a just and peaceful society with all the means at its disposal.

And moreover, a church leadership is not fully rooted among its people if it does not try to establish justice.

We are reminded in James 2:17 that “Faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead”.

And as Pope John Paul II aptly put it, “A faith and a life which are authentically Christian cannot fail to blossom in a love which constitutes truth and promotes justice”.

In a country where the political leadership steals public funds and abuses public offices with impunity, it is right for the leadership of the Catholic Church to see to it that those in power, those in public offices serve the people, and not the other way round.

We say this because sustainable and integral human development can only be promoted in ways that truly serve the people.

For we know that true peace in our country means true justice where there is fair sharing of resources and the benefits from economic development really improve the lives of all intended people, especially the most vulnerable.

Any honest person can see that the teachings of Catholic priests and bishops on this score is what is leading to this hatred, to this anger from the government and the ruling party because it is making the Catholic Church and its leadership more relevant and credible amidst a situation of many problems but also many potentials.

And as we have already demonstrated in the quote above from Proverbs 31:8-9, there is a very strong and important theological foundation for what the Catholic leadership is saying and doing.

And this is not a new position. This is a position the Catholic leadership has held for a very long time.

And this was clearly presented in the 1971 Synod of Bishops declaration, “Justice in the World”: “The hopes and forces which are moving the world in its very foundations are not foreign to the dynamism of the gospel, which through the power of the Holy Spirit frees women and men from personal sin and its consequences in social life.”

This is an echo of another powerful truth presented in the most important document of the second Vatican Council, “The Church in the Modern World” (1965): “The joys and hopes, the sorrows and anxieties, of the women and men of this age, especially the poor and those in any way oppressed, these are the joys and hopes, the sorrows and anxieties, of the followers of Jesus Christ.”

Clearly, we need the Catholic leadership, among other religious leaders and institutions, to continue to be the conscience of our society, a moral custodian and a fearless champion of the interests of the weak and downtrodden.

And as Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu has correctly observed, “the powers of Hades will not manage to bring it down or prevail against it”.

What is going on is a calculated campaign of misinformation of the public by a corrupt clique of politicians who want to hang on to power at all costs so that they can continue to abuse public resources and offices.

And in doing so, this corrupt clique does not take kindly to those who try to stand in its way to wrongdoing.

And it doesn’t need to be Catholics for them to be subjected to the slander, malice, lies, calumny that the Catholic leadership is today subjected to.

All that one needs is to stand in their way and one will be treated in the same way the Catholic leadership is being treated today.

And one doesn’t need to look far to see what we are talking about.

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