THERE is no doubt that Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu, is a good man, passionate, kind, dedicated and certainly committed to preaching the word with his witty and educative sermons.
Sadly, he represents an ecclesiastical anachronism. He represents ecclesiastical authoritarianism and intolerance that is at variance with canonical law and indeed against the tenets preached by Pope Francis which lay emphasis and espouses inclusivity.
For example, the Archbishop believes the laity should be seen and not heard, therefore the Members of Parliament who spoke against the Bishops’ Pastoral letter condemning Bill 10 are deserving of admonition.
To use his own words, “A group of people calling themselves Catholic Parliamentarians reacted and said “no,” it is wrong. It is unprecedented that Christians will tell the Bishops who are teaching from authoritative
documents of the church and the social teaching of the church that what you said was wrong.
He added “If I were in the position now, I would say that the leadership of these Catholic Parliamentariansshould resign. It has never happened…I would at least tell them for the time being; don’t use the name Catholic,
because it is a scandal.”
Fortunately, the Bishops’ Conference has not adopted this attitude as is it would certainl violate church law.
Canon law 101(3) of the Catholic Church states Catholic laity: “According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the
right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.”
Canon 215 adds that “The Christian faithful are at liberty freely to found and direct associations for purposes of charity or piety or for the promotion of the Christian vocation in the world and to hold meetings for the common pursuit of these purposes.”
The Members of Parliament fall in this category. They are privileged as representatives of the people to hold and express an opinion on matters political.
The church has never said that the laity are passive
But perhaps the most fundamental and disturbing pronouncement by the Archbishop is his insistence that Zambia is not a Christian Nation because he was not consulted when then President Frederick Chiluba and
his “radical” Christian colleagues made the pronouncement.
This represents an egotistical bigotry which contradicts the teaching of Pope Francis who believes in inclusiveness and the dispensation of a religious rigidity that works against the teaching of the universal church.
The Pope has explained that Christians must follow the Ten Commandments, of course, but Christianity was not about following rules, it was about having a relationship with Jesus.
A relationship with God, a relationship with Jesus is not a relationship of “things to do” – “If I do this, you give me that,” he said. Such a relationship would be “commercial” while Jesus gives everything, including his life,
In the homily, the Pope said the ongoing reform of the Roman Curia was a necessary part of the Catholic Church’s fidelity to its mission to proclaim the Gospel, recognising that very few countries today could be described as “Christian” and that new ways of evangelising were necessary.
He told Cardinals and top officials of the church that attempts to meet the new challenges were threatened by “the temptation to assume an attitude of rigidity.”
“Rigidity, which is born of the fear of change, ends up erecting fences and obstacles on the terrain of the common good, turning it into a minefield.
The effort by Christians to dedicate Zambia to Christendom should elicit celebrations than self righteous indignation.