BLANTYRE--The head of the Catholic Church in Malawi, Archbishop Joseph Mkasa Zuza, has urged Malawians "to pray for our country and our leaders" as they fight evils besetting the impoverished southern African country.
"Among the evils we should fight against more especially during this Holy Season of Lent are: corruption, nepotism, tribalism, pride, body desires, witchcraft, Satanism, child abuse, drunkenness," he said in a special message to mark the beginning the begging of Lent, forty days of fasting as exemplified by Jesus in the wilderness, read in Catholic 'Ash Wednesday' sermons Wednesday evening.
"My brothers and sisters, these evils are against the law of love which is the centre of Christian life."
Zuza gained notoriety after he presented a blistering sermon against President Bingu wa Mutharika's defiant reaction in the aftermath of the unprecedented July 20 anti-government demonstrations where police killed 20 unarmed demonstrators.
In a veiled attack against the President, Zuza said whoever believes has the monopoly of wisdom to the problems basseting Malawi "is a stupidest fool".
Mutharika, who was present during the sermon at a hall in Blantyre, reacted angrily to the sermon, warning the head of the largest religious grouping in Malawi in the same hall a few days after the sermon:
"If it were during those days (the 30 years of one-party dictatorship under Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda) that man could have come out free from that hall". The state-run Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) unleashed a virulent vilification campaign against the cleric.
Zuza and Mutharika, a church-going Catholic, have not shared the same podium since that incident.
During the Wednesday Ash Wednesday message Zuza stayed clear of zeroing in on Malawi's current socio-political problems but evoked Pope Benedict the 16th: "
On behalf of my fellow brother bishops of the Catholic Church, I appeal to all the Catholic faithful to journey in the path that the Holy Father has called us to do. Let us aim at a higher standard of Christian living. Let us renew our witness of love and fidelity to the Lord."
He added: "Let us use our different talents for our own good and the good of others. Malawi would be a better place to live in if we all take our respective roles."
Zuza said Malawi was "passing through very difficult times" and its leaders "have the big responsibility of working for the good of each and everyone".
"As believers, we know God will not abandon us for He loves us so dearly," he said, concluding: "Let us all pray for our country."
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment