The Catholic Church has reassured all Zambians that it will continue to side with the poor and the voiceless in order to fight for their improved living conditions and that it remains determined to see that Zambia continues to be an oasis of peace.
And the Church says that in its official capacity, it does not and cannot champion any single political candidate even if that candidate were a faithful son of the Church.
Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) spokesperson Fr. Paul Samasumo said in a statement yesterday that the Church had remained steadfast in its position of fighting for the poor and the marginalized because this was at the core of its prophetic role.
Fr. Samasumo said the Church’s position was adequately demonstrated by the widely disseminated and publicised Pastoral letters and Pastoral statements that the ZEC issued from time to time.
“When the Catholic Bishops speak out individually or collectively, for example, through these Letters and Statements, they are guided in doing so because of conviction based on Holy Scripture, the example of Jesus Christ and Catholic Social Teaching.
“One such Church document “Ecclesia in Africa” urges the leadership of the Catholic Church in Africa to continue to be the “voice of the voiceless”. It is therefore not possible for the Bishops to abandon such a cardinal pastoral responsibility,” he said
He explained that on January 29, the Zambian Catholic Bishops collectively released a Pastoral letter “that they have abundant life” in which they were quite forthright about matters of governance in Zambia under the current (Patriotic Front) government.
Fr Samasumo added that the ZEC ensured that it conducted detailed review and analysis of the prevailing situation or burning issues in order to prepare a statement that was well informed and meaningful.
He said it would not help anyone for the Catholic Church were to issue statements that were superficial.
He said this in response to accusations and attacks alleging that the Catholic Church in Zambia had abandoned its role of speaking for the voiceless, the poor and marginalized because it was loyal to or favours the Patriotic Front and its leadership.
The Catholic Church in Zambia he said, and elsewhere in the world was made up of members that belonged to diverse political party affiliations and therefore the ZEC in its official capacity could not champion any single candidate.
The clergyman said with regards to this that any hint of partisan politics by a priest or a Bishop through the media or from the pulpit was wrong because the God they preached about and served welcomed everyone in spite of political affiliations.
He said there was ample evidence to attest that the leadership of the Catholic Church in Zambia had always taken seriously its prophetic role and had categorically spoken out against any unfair actions and unacceptable policies of government.
“The commitment of the Church leadership to issues of justice and peace remains unchanged. The Church’s stance whether against or in favour of government policies had been unequivocal, always pro-poor; always for the marginalised and the vulnerable.
“The commitment of the Catholic Church to the Zambian people cannot now change and will not change because solidarity with the powerless and voiceless is what it means to be Christian,” Fr Samasumo said.
He added that the Church would like to see a Zambia where tenets of sound democratic governance and human rights are religiously upheld.
He said the ZEC will remain vigilant and speak out against any injustices perpetrated by any quarter of the society.