CATHOLIC PRIESTS SPREAK OUT AGAINST BISHOP ALICK BANDA
We the Catholic priests of the Lusaka Archdiocese are alarmed at bishop Alick Banda’s departure from his role as a shepherd of the flock of the Lord. We cannot keep silent any more. We have watched with great pain Bishop Banda anointing himself as a spokesperson for an opposition political party and speaking about anything he thinks will discredit the ruling government. His accusation that the government was behind the stealing of TV sets from Edgar Lungu’s residence and now his recent rants that the government was encouraging homosexuality were all messages lifted up from opposition PF blogs. A bishop should be above partisan politics and look at greater social justice and faith issues.We have tried to whisper to him but he does not listen.
As Catholic clergy, we believe our bishops have a prophetic role to play by denouncing injustice, as was the case with old testament prophets and as did our Lord Jesus Christ. This was beautifully stated in paragraph 1 of the Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern Word (Gaudium et Spes) promulgated by Pope Paul VI as follows: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.” This entails that the Church and its leadership cannot abandon the matters of social justice, especially matters affecting the poor. But to have a bishop anoint himself as spokesperson for the elite and former ruling party is to abdicate this mandate.
Where was Banda when the PF looted the treasury and got the country into heavy debt? Where was Banda when citizens were mercilessly gassed? Where was Banda when PF carders terrorized innocent citizens? Where was Banda when the police brutally murdered innocent citizens? During all this ordeal, Banda was silent and busy partying with Edgar Lungu. The only bishops who stood with the people are bishops George Lungu and Telesphore Mpundu. Zambia owes these two an undying debt of gratitude.
We strongly believe that Alick Banda is abusing his office of bishop to further personal and partisan interests. What he is doing is contrary to what the Catholic Church teaches about the role of a bishop in the Catholic Church. The Vatican Council II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) states in paragraph 21: “…bishops in an eminent and visible way sustain the roles of Christ Himself as Teacher, Shepherd and High Priest, and that they act in His person.”
This entails that Bishops should mirror Christ in what they do and act as Christ did. They should imitate Christ in holiness as well.
Below, we would like to demonstrate with a few examples, how Alick Banda falls short of what is expected of a Bishop. He is a perfect manifestation of a hypocrite. How he managed to cheat the system and rise to office of bishop is a story for another day.
1.Bishop Alick is a well-known womanizer. He has a string of girlfriends; some are even married. Just a few examples will do. While he served as bishop of Ndola, he had an affair with the maid who worked as the cleaner and cook in the bishop’s house. This is an open secret known by everyone who worked in the Ndola diocese offices. When the law allowed the Charitable organisations to import vehicles duty free, Alick Banda abused this facility by importing duty free vehicles for his girlfriends in Ndola. Again, this is an open secret. ZRA reports are still there to confirm this. Currently, we know that bishop Alick Banda has sexual relations with a Catholic nun from a known local congregation of nuns in Lusaka. This nun is a frequent presence at Banda’s Ibex Hill residence, and she alone has unimpeded access to him, 24/7. Let Alick Banda deny this and we will produce more evidence.
2. Alick Banda is full of hatred. One of the persons he hates most is his predecessor, Bishop Telesphore Mpundu. He openly accuses Mpundu of having defrauded the diocese of funds meant for the Home Based Care Project. He often boasts that he is doing Mpundu a favour by not reporting him to the police for the theft. Banda hates Mpundu so much that the few times Mpundu has been unwell, Banda never visited him, despite being in the same town. What kind of Christian does this? Let Banda tell the Christians when he last invited Mpundu even for a meal. The poor old man Mpundu has been shunted by Banda into a small house in Thornpark.
3. Alick Banda loves power so much. He campaigned hard to be elected President of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) at the last election. Luckily, his colleagues saw no merit in him and did not elect him as president. This annoyed him so much that he went about complaining and accused his colleague bishops of being uneducated idiots. He often complains that ZCCB was full of uneducated bishops like George Lungu and Ignatius Chama who did not have PhDs like himself.
4. Alick Banda loves attention and pomp. When Mpundu was invited to celebrate thanksgiving mass at state House, Banda was so angry that he had been overlooked. He angrily called Fr Joseph Kang’ombe of Mary Immaculate Parish, who had accompanied bishop Mpundu to State House, to insult him and threaten to remove him from his diocese.
5. Alick Banda lives in opulence and enjoys an extravagant life style. While all the former bishops of the diocese lived in a modesty bishop’s house in Roma, Banda lives in a private House in Ibex Hill. The house has all sorts of security gadgets, adult toys and extravagance is written all over it. It is for this reason that he easily connected with Edgar Lungu because Lungu allowed him easy access to state resources to help him finance his extravagance. Banda is a big beneficiary of Lungu’s corruption. In fact, we are shocked that the ACC and DEC have not moved in to investigate him because after Lungu lost power, he hid some of his money with Banda. To this day, some vehicles from Lungu are still hidden at Banda’s place. What are law enforcement officers doing?
6.Banda is a champion of tribalism. He has cleared the Catholic secretariat (Catholic Church Headquarters in Lusaka) of staff from other dioceses. All key positions are now held by people from just two dioceses, that is, his former diocese of Ndola and his current diocese of Lusaka. The New director of Caritas (Fr Gabriel Mapulanga) is from Ndola diocese; the Pastoral Coordinator (Fr Cornelius Chibamba) is from Ndola diocese; the education secretary in charge of all Catholic schools (Fr Leonard Namuhumba) is from Lusaka diocese; the Liturgical coordinator (Fr. Jonas Phiri) is from Lusaka diocese; the Communications director (Fr Winfred Kunda) is from Ndola diocese; the Secretary General of the ZCCB (Fr Francis Mukosa) is from Ndola; and the Human Resource and Finance director (Fr James Chibeza Zulu) is from Lusaka. The same trend is mirrored in the three national seminaries where Catholic priests are trained. The Catholic church has 10 dioceses. Where is the diversity and inclusivity? Where is Alick Banda to condemn this tribalism within his own church? He is the architect of the problem.
7. Banda’s letter on homosexuality does not reflect the position of the Catholic Church, which does not allow discrimination and favours a charitable pastoral approach. No one is excluded from the love of God. In fact, the Catholic Church within Zambia has struggled with this issue and Banda should be honest about it. We challenge Archbishop Banda to tell the nation if there were no incidences of homosexuality at St. Dominic’s Major Seminary in Woodlands a few years ago where, even a priest was sent away, and several seminarians suspended.
8. Banda loves money so much but fails to account for it. While in Ndola, the women’s league once mounted a protest against him for abusing the seminarian’s fund. This is money ordinary Catholics donate for the training of priests. He has continued to do the same in Lusaka. In Lusaka, women raise almost K1millon annually for the training of priests. Ask any of the parishes when they last received a financial statement on the utilization of these funds. Zero. It’s his milking cow, funding his extravagance.
Finally, we would like to call on the Vatican to take interest in what is happening in the Archdiocese of Lusaka. The diocese is poorly run and full of squabbles. It is in wrong hands. We appeal that he be removed and in his place let us be given a more spiritually mature bishop such as bishop George Lungu of Chipata, Valentine Kalumba of Livingstone, Charles Kasonde of Solwezi or even the young man from Monze, bishop Raphael Mweempwa. These are solid spiritually, sober intellectually and live humble and decent lives.
Perhaps even Bishop Benjamin Phiri can do a better job as he is a far decent human being, apart from his occasional misguided rants.
We would like to end with a quote from St Pope John Paul II: “It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.” We equally refuse to be ground down by the mediocrity of bishop Alick Banda and ask the Vatican to investigate and remove him before things get out of hand.
We remain humble servants of the Lord. May Mary Our Mother continue to plead our cause.