Bishop John Ryan of Mzuzu Diocese of the Catholic Church has said the church will not endorse any political party or leader ahead of the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
In his address during the inauguration of St Mary’s Catholic Parish at Kasitu in Nkhotakota on Saturday, the bishop said the church will only guide its congregants on qualities of a good leader that the country needs to have.
He said the church is looking for a leader with eight qualities that include honesty, transformational leadership and selflessness.
Ryan said other qualities are servant leadership, respect for the law, willingness to step down, God-fearing and one who is above tribal, regional, political and church interests.
He said these qualities are contained in a pastoral letter titled Call for a New Era issued by the church’s bishops in May this year.
Said Ryan: “We need to elect a leader with these qualities regardless of one’s tribe and religion. As a Catholic Church, we cannot endorse any one leader. We will not endorse any one party.
“We will not endorse any one politician because we know that our Christians come from all parties, all corners and we respect all parties, all tribes and all regions. We just look at one’s heart.”
On the inauguration of the new parish, Ryan said it signified the church’s commitment to supporting government in development as the diocese intends to build other facilities at the site, including a primary school, a boarding secondary school, teachers’ houses and a community hall.
The event was attended by several political party and government officials, including Minister of Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango, who represented President Peter Mutharika and leader of opposition in Parliament and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera.
In his remarks, Mhango applauded the Catholic Church for supporting government in developing the country through construction of schools and hospitals.
Reacting to Ryan’s speech, Chakwera said it was good that the bishop was explicit in terms of what they expect.
He said: “The speech is extremely important because it touches on the future of this country and what every Malawian, particularly those belonging to the church, should do as part of their civic duties.”
Chakwera said Parliament appreciates the role the Catholic Church plays in development.
He said: “What we have noticed, particularly the Catholic Church, is that they have been pivotal in providing services in education. For example, out of 21 or more national secondary schools, about 17 are Catholic.
“This simply shows how crucial it is for the church to continue providing such services.”
This year, Mzuzu Diocese has so far established seven new parishes in areas where they also intend to build schools and hospitals.