Mwenya Mukuka – Lusaka, Zambia.
Bishop Lungu made the remarks when he officially opened a ZCCB Peacebuilding workshop in the capital, Lusaka, on Wednesday. The workshop has the theme: Towards a Peaceful Zambia - the role of the Church.
The two-days workshop is being held at the Bishops’ Kapingila house. The aim is to raise awareness among key pastoral agents to be true and effective promoters and mediators of peace. The workshop has attracted forty-four participants from all Catholic Dioceses of Zambia. These include the country’s Bishops as well as various pastoral coordinators, communication secretaries, Caritas, and social programme directors drawn from the country’s dioceses. Also participating are members of the Catholic Secretariat management team.
Socio-political challenges threaten peace in Zambia
Zambia is currently faced with several socio-political and economic challenges. In general, the country is considered a stable and peaceful democracy. However, there are growing concerns, in Zambia, that the current government has progressively become authoritarian, thus risking instability, in the country. The Archbishop Emeritus of Lusaka Archdiocese, Telesphore-George Mpundu, has of late been in the forefront raising the alarm over the shrinking political space and ordinary citizens regularly facing intimidation for criticising the government. Members of Opposition political parties have been arrested and prevented from carrrying out their political activities. Some independent media outlets have been closed by authorities under arbitrary circumstances. Security actors such as the police service have become overly politicised. All this is happening at a time when Zambia is experiencing economic hardships aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most people, especially in rural areas, are struggling to meet basic needs such as access to healthcare, education, sufficient food, clean water, and housing.
Unacceptable to allow such trends from our comfortable zones
Bishop Lungu emphasised that such worrisome trends if left unchecked could see the country lose its treasured peace at the altar of expedience with the obvious results of continued discord and lack of progress in the pursuit of the common good.
“It is morally unacceptable to allow certain trends to go on while we remain watching and waiting from our comfort zones. This workshop is no doubt, a manifestation of that desire to do something about our situation. A time to take note of the silent cries of our people,” said Bishop Lungu.
The Church is the conscience of the nation
The ZCCB President further said that the Church may take pride in that it is the voice of the voiceless and the conscience of the nation. Yet, if the voice of the Church at certain critical times goes silent, for whatever reason, that is failure in its mission.
The prelate of Chipata noted that the Church must remain true to its identity as ambassadors of Christ and effective promoters and mediators of peace.
Bishop Lungu hoped that under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, participants at the workshop would contribute to genuine peace and reconciliation in Zambia.