Catholic Church backs Bishop over Malawi leader

The Catholic Church in Malawi, widely respected for the role it played in the fight for democracy in the 90s, has come out to back Bishop Joseph Zuza who gave a fearless homily to a congregation attended by President Bingu wa Mutharika and his cabinet last month. The Association of Diocesan Catholic Clergy of Malawi, the Association of Religious (Women) Institutes of Malawi, and the Association of Men Religious Institutes of Malawi, said in a joint statement that the Church is independent from any human authority. Bishop Zuza in his sermon on August 16 during the national day of prayers indirectly condemned the President’s lack of political tolerance. Zuza preached that when one person begins to take all powers in his hands, threatens others and considers oneself the fountain of wisdom in the country while shifting blame on others, that person makes a fool of himself and loses popularity. “If one person thinks he has all the solutions to the storm we are going through then he is the most stupid and foolish. If we feel we have more authority that everyone and we begin to threaten one another that is wrong. Is this not what is happening in our country?”, Backing the Bishop the three organizations said:“We would like to remind those in political leadership positions that Bishops, as leaders of the Church, do not enter the field for mere politics. As such, the Bishop’s office or the Catholic Church should not be identified with any political party or type of government. It is therefore unwarranted for politicians to insinuate that the Chairperson of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi was inspired by some opposition elements.” The Bishop was addressing everybody present, and throughout Malawi. As part to the solutions to the problems that the country is facing, the Bishop pleaded for the involvement of all members of the Society,” the statement reads in part. The President and his cronies have in the past week been castigating Bishop Zuza, the head of the Catholic Church in the southern African nation. They have accused him of being an agent of the opposition. The Church in Malawi, especially the Catholic Church has taken a lead in condemning President Mutharika’s intolerance and dictatorial tendencies in recent years. In October last year, the Bishops wrote a scathing Pastoral Letter condemning his leadership style and asked him to reconcile with his Vice President among other issues they raised. But Mutharika has not taken heed, he sacked his vice president from the ruling party and many believe he is now trying to garner the two-thirds majority needed in parliament to impeach her.