Archbishop Banda’s indecorous conduct – using liberty for a cloak of maliciousness – a recipe for chaos

Lusaka Archdiocese His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Alick Banda

Archbishop Banda’s indecorous conduct – using liberty for a cloak of maliciousness – a recipe for chaos

By Gunston Chola

If a medallion for being indecorous, uncouth and churlish was to be awarded in Zambia it would not skirt Lusaka Archdiocese bishop Alick Banda’s recent incongruous spat on President Hakainde Hichilema.

No matter the gravity of the grievance, it is inappropriate for anyone especially of the stature of an archbishop, to demonise, ridicule and to trivialise the President the way he and his priest did of a man who was popularly elected by the people. Lest a misunderstanding occurs, Archbishop Banda, is leader of Lusaka Archdiocese, more or less a district commissioner not of the Copperbelt, not of Chipata, not of Kasama, not of Mansa but one of the leaders in the Catholic Church, a provincial minister.

At the Archdiocese of Lusaka annual youth pilgrimage at the Marian Shrine, Bishop Banda, recently said priests were not jokers and accused the President of being a liar, a statement which has incensed many people across the country. Similarly, he warned people ignoring messages from the priests as doing so on their own risk, pledging in the same homily to defend all priests. He also urged the youth not to be intimidated by anyone for doing what is right. He crowned his homily with a quote from Jerome, recognised by the Catholic Church as the patron saint of translators, librarians and encyclopedists: ignorance of scriptures, ignorance of the word of God is ignorance of God. The Bishop forgot Jerome also said: “The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart.” Jerome’s work included the translation of biblical texts into Latin from Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, particularly of the Bible – the vulgate – for which he received sainthood.

Even as a bishop his understanding of the scriptures is mightily sketchy. David’s conduct towards King Saul is a living example of how to treat those in authority. On two occasions, he refused to harm Saul: “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of God.” (I Samuel 24:6; 26:11, KJV).

President Hichilema was elected by 2.8 million Zambians to serve them. The voice of the people is the voice of God. The verbal abuse he has been subjected to by the Catholic prelates is unbiblical and certainly ungodly to any standards.

The Bible in 1 Peter 2:13-17 overrules them. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to the king, as supreme…and advises in verse, (16) as free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.”

Evidently, “the cloak of maliciousness” is apparent in those warning the President not to tango with the Catholic Church, in reality telling him to abdicate. “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work; to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men,” (Titus 3:1-2).

What should be the example to give to the youth? Of Jerome, a man, to which Jeremiah says “cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes the flesh his arm” (Jeremiah 17:7), or Jesus Christ who preached to render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar (Matthew 22:15-22) and submitted to paying the tribute (Matthew 17:24-27) and, therefore, obedience to the authority.

Bishop Banda’s snuggle with former president Edgar Chagwa Lungu; the postures when they are pictured together, has turned him into a brawler and betrays his intentions towards Mr Hichilema, bitter that somehow the President has corked the genie that provided his extra stipend. From the time Mr Hichilema was sworn in on 24 August 2021, Bishop Banda had been his vociferous critic. The Chawama diocese priest, Anthony Salangeta’s distasteful remark, condemning the President’s use of a graph to illustrate Zambia’s economic trend since the seventies, only came in to stoke the hatred and odium he felt for him.

The graphs are used to strengthen arguments. They are mathematically grafted or pictorial, a fact, Fr Salangeta is aware of. They are prevalent in the Catholic churches. The route to the Calvary and pictorials depicting Jesus’s suffering from being arrested to his crucifixion and burial, so-called 12 steps are unmistakable. Like all small men, Fr Salangeta seemed to have been on cloud nine when he received Mr Lungu in his church that he cast caution to the wind in his welcome to show Zambia and the whole world that he is able to attract a former president.

When did Bishop Banda become a champion of the poor and needy, and a ferocious critic of the government? Certainly, not long ago when Mr Lungu and Patriotic Front (PF) ran roughshod this country he was mute. The insight could be traced from an article, Step by Inevitable Step: Lungu’s strategy march to 2021 and beyond by Zambia’s political commentator Sishuwa Sishuwa of December 4, 2018. The article explained how president Lungu had been pressed to start discussions with Mr Hichilema but the talks stalled on finding suitable and impartial facilitators. Mr Hachilema was suspicious of holding the talks under the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID) which he viewed as pro-PF and insisted either the Commonwealth or the churches. But Mr Lungu was also not comfortable with the churches. At the time of this dispute, the most influential church body – the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) – was led by Telesphore Mpundu, who as the Archbishop of Lusaka, had been outspoken. He criticised human rights abuses by government, condemned Hichilema’s arrest and denounced the police and judiciary for failing “to stand up to political manipulation and corruption.”

Archbishop Mpundu, wrote Sishuwa Sishuwa, had described Zambia under Lungu as a “dictatorship in all except designation.” Under this barrage, Mr Lungu was reluctant to have the ZCCB oversee the talks. It was suspected that PF began manouevres to get the Bishop out of the way.

Curiously, Bishop Mpundu was retired in January 2018, just two months after he had been re-elected as ZCCB president, officially discharged on medical grounds. But well-placed sources in the Catholic Church allege that the Zambian government lobbied the Vatican’s pro-nuncio to have the critical archbishop quietly retired.

As the proverb says ubushiku bwaluba umukote ne cimbwi cinya imfwi (meaning the day an old man goes missing and the hyena releases white staff), the hyena automatically becomes the suspect. It seemed so when the Vatican chose Alick Banda, hitherto Archbishop of Ndola, to replace Telesphore Mpundu months after Mr Lungu had interacted with him in a fund raising walk in Ndola.

Archbishop Banda was less critical of the government and Mr Lungu. He quickly distanced himself from the statements of his predecessor and instead criticised Mr Hichilema for refusing to accept the 2016 elections.

“With a favourable leadership now at the helm of the influential Lusaka diocese and ZCCB, Lungu feels confident enough to proceed with the church mediated talks. Hichilema who originally demanded that Zambia’s church bodies oversee dialogue, has been backed into a corner, while Lungu is already being praised for ‘conceding’ to his opponent’s request,” wrote Sishuwa Sishuwa.

Ever since they became close companions. Bishop Banda closed his eyes and ears to the atrocities of the PF, refused even to sign the Pastoral letter condemning government abuses. The turncoat he had become, he only resurfaced when Mr Hichilema was installed as President with heightened venom.

Apologists want to separate Archbishop Banda and Fr Salangeta’s vitriolic attacks from the Catholic Church. This is a difficult undertaking. Once delivered as a homily, it becomes an official discourse, a stand of the church. Clearly both men expressed the stand of the Catholic Church, hence the warning. The Vatican is not new to such altercations and fighting with them is regarded as a challenge which the Church must win and totally eliminate the enemy.

Relying on history, President Hichilema is expendable if deemed that he was standing in their way. The Church would not feel any qualms getting rid of one pest and setting up another. They have the means and executioners. It began in the Reformation with the founding of the Society of Jesus by Ignatius de Loyola in the 1540s. Known as Jesuits, its position in the Roman Catholic Church was solidified during the Council of Trent, 1546 to 1563, convened with one goal in mind – how to stop the Protestant Reformation which began in 1517 when Martin Luther, a German friar, nailed 95 theses on the Wittenberg Chapel.

These challenged, among other things, the heinous doctrine of indulgences taught by Rome that declared a man could save himself and loved ones by dropping enough coins into the Catholic Church’s coffers.

“Luther’s great teachings that the Bible only is the standard for all doctrine and practice, and that a person is justified before God through faith in Jesus Christ alone, sent thrills through the hearts of thousands throughout Europe and shock waves through the halls of the Vatican,” writes Bill Hughes in The Secret Terrorists, Truth Triumphant publications 2002. The Council of Trent was convened as a Counter Reformation, and the Jesuits would be the chief tools of Rome to undo and destroy every trace of Protestantism wherever it was found.

Avron Manhattan writes in The Dollar and the Vatican, Ozark Book Publishers, 1988, page 26: “The Vatican condemned the Declaration of Independence as wickedness and called the Constitution of United States a Satanic Document. This is simply the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, were filled with Protestant declarations that are absolutely intolerable to the Jesuits in Rome,” quotes Hughes.

Recall the Catholic Church’s rejection of the declaration of Zambia as a Christian Nation. Imagine the following as part of the Jesuits Oath, as quoted by Hughes:

I do further promise and declare, that I will have no opinion or will of my own, or any mental reservation whatever, even as a corpse or cadaver, but will unhesitatingly obey each and every command that I may receive from my superiors in the Militia of the Pope … I furthermore promise and declare that I will, when opportunity presents, make and wage relentless war, secretly or openly, against all heretics, Protestants and Liberals, as I am directed to do, to extirpate and exterminate them from the face of the whole earth; and that I will spare neither age, sex or condition; and that I will hang, burn, waste, boil, flay, strangle and bury alive these infamous heretics, rip up the stomachs and wombs of their women and crush their infants heads against the walls, in order to annihilate forever their execrable race. That when the same cannot be done openly, I will secretly use the poisoned cup, the strangulating cord, the steel of the poniard or the leaden bullet, regardless of the honour, rank, dignity, or authority of the person or persons, whatever may be their condition in life, either public or private, as I at any time may be directed so to do by any agent of the Pope or Superior of the Brotherhood of the Holy Faith of the Society of Jesus – Edwin A. Sherman, The Engineer Corps of Hell; or Rome’s Sapper’s and Miners, Private Subscription, 1883, pp 118-124.

(This oath is no longer found on the website. It has since been replaced).

Evidently, Mr Lungu has no known denomination. Like a bee he sits on any flower as long as it can find nectar. But Mr Hichilema is a Seventh Day Adventist (SDA), an elder, a Protestant church well known for its caustic criticism of the Catholic Church through writings by its founder Ellen White and other authors.

Over six million people were killed during the Inquisition in Europe. In 1482 Pope Sextus appointed a council to take command of the Inquisition in Spain which was systemised and routinely used to elicit confessions. Later the Jesuits and Dominican Order joined hands to enforce the Counter Reformation. Alarmed at the killings, monarchs in Europe united to expel the Jesuits from their countries. Finally, in 1773, Pope Clement XIV issued the document Dominus ac Redemptor and dissolved the Society of Jesus altogether. Eleven other Popes lost their lives in trying to do so. Pope Clement XIII was poisoned on the eve of signing the order.

The Order was re-established in 1814 and the first assignment was the famous Congress of Vienna in 1815 dubbed the Unholy Alliance. Two more congresses followed. The first was at Verona in 1822 and later Chieri, Italy, at the Jesuits College near Turin in 1825. Notably, at the Chieri gathering, plans were discussed for the advancement of Papal power world-wide, destabilising of governments which stood in the way and for the crushing of all opposition to Jesuit schemes and ambitions… “What we aim at, is the Empire of the World…

“We must give them [the great men of earth] to understand that the cause of evil, the leaven, will remain as long as Protestantism shall exist, that Protestantism must therefore be utterly abolished…Heretics are the enemies that we are bound to exterminate…

“Then the Bible that serpent which with head erect and eyes flashing threatens us with its venom while it trails along the ground, shall be changed into a rod as soon as we are able to seize it,” wrote Hector Macpherson, The Jesuits in History, Ozark Book Publishers, 1997, appendix.

For over 1,260 years, aka Dark Ages, the Bible was hidden from the public including priests. Death awaited those who dared and for many years it was not read in Catholic Churches except missals until recently. Hence it is still a difficult task to explain the word of God, a vacuum filled by the homilies and philosophical quotations.

President Hichilema’s achievements so far are unprecedented, much more than a lump of nshima, that he is been derided for. Decentralisation, a source of frustration for successive governments, his administration has fulfilled it. Councils and municipalities will now bear the rod of development, thereby fulfilling PF’s own slogan – more money in the pocket.

At the point of being banal, children who had no hope for education are now able to attend free education from Grade One to 12; restored meal allowances and increased bursaries at universities; over 30,000 new teachers recruited, plus 4,600 others confirmed; over 11,000 health workers employed.

Retirees are thankful that they have received their dues after years of waiting while prospective NAPSA pensioners can claim partial payment. Unimagined is increase of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) from PF’s K1.6 million to K28.3 million. Today, if Archbishop Banda and Fr Sangaleta went to the filling station they will fill their tanks at K24 and K21 per litre for petrol and diesel, respectively, free of subsidy while PF deliberately kept prices low amid millions owed to the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs).

President Hichilema has realised no meaningful development can take place in a befuddled atmosphere, shackled press and hence laws which inhibited progress are being repealed. Infrastructure such as roads and buildings which were not started or completed were being done everywhere regardless of the area. Load shedding is no more.

It is difficult to itemise all development. What else, therefore, do the priests in the Catholic Church want done? From their utterances Zambians must deduce that security and the President’s life is at stake. Fr Salangeta started the spark stoked by Archbishop Banda and the PF are ensuring the wick is continually replenished. Will Zambians allow a working President’s life end in a poisoned chalice, the steel of the poniard or the leaden bullet? Or will the Catholic Church moderate its attacks in view of the latest Pope Francis’ caution to bishops fanning embers of divisions to stop. It remains to be seen.

As Paul beseeched the Romans, it is time Zambians began to “mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them; for they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

Salute one another with a holy kiss – (Romans 16:16-17).

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