The Roman Catholic Church in Malawi through Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) has boldly stopped some of its bishops and priests from openly campaigning for and endorsing Vice President Saulos Chilima and his United Transformation Movement (UTM)
Some priests led by Bishop Thomas Msusa have in the past months been campaigning openly for Vice President Saulos Chilima and his United Transformation Movement (UTM) through sermons and speeches during church services and other functions.
But a statement released by ECM discourages this conduct saying the Catholic Church operates under apolitical and nonpartisan principles and does not tolerate any behaviour to the contrary.
“We wish to reiterate that while the Church encourages Catholics to take active role in politics i.e seeking political power at all levels of the national governance structure, the Catholic bishops in Malawi cannot and shall not support or endorse any particular politician or political party,” reads part of the statement which has been signed by all the country’s eight bishops.
The statement resonates with what Vicar General Boniface Tamani and Bishop John Ryan of Mzuzu Diocese said on the former’s silver jubileee celebrations where they denounced a decision their boss Archbishop Msusa who has openly campaigned for UTM and its leader Saulosi Chilima on several occasions this year.
Chilima and his cronies will take the bishop’s stance with a heavy beating knowing fully well they rested their whole political chances on the Church and its membership.
It is also understood that the Catholic Church has stopped parishes and dioceses across the country from inviting Chilima as guest of honor on any function before an approval from ECM.
Over the past months the Vice President has attended almost all Catholic functions as guest of honor because the few bishops and priests in his favour hijacked protocol. They never even thought of inviting the State President on purpose to prop up Chilima’s image among church members.
Despite the efforts of some bishops and priests, history has it that Malawi’s electoral landscape is not defined by what any religion thinks. Malawians only vote for people who they know will propagate national development well.
For instance during the 2004 polls evangelical and Catholic denominations openly threw weight behind Mgwirizano Coalition led by late Gwanda Chakuamba only for him to finish a distant third behind Bakili Muluzi and John Tembo.