The Catholic Church Guides On Govt Relationship

Catholic Bishops


Catholic Diocese of Ndola Bishop Benjamin Phiri has urged Catholics to remain peaceful and allow Bishops to handle the issue of the perceived difference between the Church and the Government.

Bishop Phiri said for now Priests; religious and lay faithful should stop commenting on the issue.

During the 10th Anniversary celebration of Holy Trinity Parish in Mulenga, Kitwe on Saturday, Bishop Phiri said ZCCB President Archbishop Ignatius Chama has informed him that the government and the church are talking over the issue.

Bishop Phiri accepted that it was unfortunate for some Government officials and some members of the church to exchange negative comments in public.

Below is the full message delivered by Bishop Phiri in Kitwe.

This message is not addressed to Holy Trinity – Mulenga Parish but rather to everyone in the diocese. In recent times there have been writings on social media and in some newspapers giving the impression that there is a very big quarrel and a big fight between the Catholic Church and the government.

I would like to stand before you here to dispel that impression. We have been talking; there is no fight with the Government because the government and the church are cooperators in the service delivery in the country and in development, especially in education and also in health and in social services. We compliment the effort of the government because it is the responsibility of the government to offer that service. We are there to compliment the effort of the government.

Therefore, there cannot be a situation where there is total breakdown and disorder so that now there is a situation of a cold war or verbal war, there is nothing like that. It is true that a few of our members and a few on the part of the government have exchanged some words which we think were unfortunate to be exchanged in the public sector.

I am here to inform you that last night (Friday) I received a message from our President (Archbishop Ignatius Chama), the President of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) to inform all of you that we are in the process by agreement with government we are in the process of sitting down to iron out whatever perceived differences are there. We have talked with the Government. Those of you who listened to the news I think you saw on the news that the government is doing the same that no one should stand and speak in the name off the Church about the perceived fight going on, leave it in our hands, some things are too big for you to handle. So you are not adding value by just standing up and commenting which many times you only have a small picture of, you need to have the whole picture to be in a position to comment.

In my Diocese I would not like to hear or see anyone aggravating the situation. What has been happening so far is people aggravating the situation, who is going to sort out whom and who is more powerful than whom. That is not what we are here for, we are here for unity, we are here for peace. Just as a Ndola Diocese we are talking about unity. Even as a country we are one Zambia one Nation. We only have one place. Please keep your peace.
Leave the issue to us (Bishops) we will sort it out ourselves. As we meet next month as a Bishops Conference this is one of the things we shall be looking at and I am certain that we will be able to settle this one because has far as I know both sides are willing to talk and negotiate about certain things in order to advance the cooperation that has been there between the Church and the Government.

For the Priests and religious, you are forbidden to talk about this issue until maybe one day you hear from us to say: OK now priests we have failed ourselves, talk about this in every parish, then you can stand and talk. Keep your peace, let those who should talk, talk, let the orderliness that is characteristic of the Catholic Church remain.

You have not heard me before this, making any official statement on behalf of ZCCB but now I speak because my President has told me to speak. That is how we speak in the Catholic Church. So this is what I wanted to say, it is a very serious matter. I hope that Radio Icengelo will take note of that. It is a very serious matter. It should be noted and it should be observed.



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