Congo-Brazzaville: Dear Clergy, preach justice, truth and peace.
Stanislas Kambashi, SJ - Vatican City
With slightly over a month before legislative and local elections in Congo-Brazzaville, the country’s Bishops want the aspirations of the Congolese people to be at the centre of the elections.
At the end of an extraordinary session, Congo-Brazzaville’s Episcopal Conference issued a Declaration that they hope will guide their compatriots in the forthcoming elections.
Free and fair elections
“Voting is not optional, but a civic right and duty, which must be exercised” with an upright conscience and moral integrity, say the Congolese prelates. Taking this right and duty seriously is one way of honouring generations of women and men who fought, sometimes at the cost of their lives, to obtain voting rights in the Republic of the Congo.
In their Pastoral Statement, the Bishops invite voters to be well informed about the candidates vying for office, their programmes and their capacity to keep promises. The prelates also encourage the people to stay true to their consciences and avoid being manipulated through bribes or other vices.
Appeal to the Candidates
The Bishops remind the candidates that politics is a vocation to serve the common good, to serve the people, “based on justice, truth and equal opportunities for all.” They insist that candidates acquaint themselves with the actual needs and suffering of the people they wish to represent. In addition, the Bishops want candidates presenting themselves for elections to cultivate a charitable heart, willing to serve selflessly.
The Episcopal Conference of Congo cautions against candidates indulging in dishonourable practices such as “vote-buying through direct or indirect corruption, influence peddling, intimidation and any other forms of pressure.”
Dear Clergy: Preach justice, truth and peace
The Bishops’ final message is directed to members of the clergy and consecrated persons. These are reminded to take seriously their role of spiritually accompanying both voters and candidates by preaching justice, truth and peace. While remaining impartial, members of the clergy and consecrated persons should not serve the interests of any political party and must refrain from any ambiguous remarks.
Legislative and local elections will be held on 10 July in Congo-Brazzaville. Voters will be called upon to renew the national assembly. A total of 151 seats are up for grabs.