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Zambian Bishops call for free, fair, peaceful elections

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Zambian: Bishops call for free, fair, peaceful elections

Zambia’s 2016 presidential elections were marred by widespread political violence. The country’s image as a haven of peace took a beating. Once again, the southern African nation will be going to the polls on August 12. The elections will be held to elect the President and National Assembly. Christian Church leaders, over the weekend, issued a pastoral statement urging Zambians to shun violence and embrace tolerance.

With campaigns starting to get underway, Zambia’s politicians, especially from the ruling party, have already been crisscrossing the country to make donations in various churches and parishes. Elections are almost never mentioned with the donations but it is understood that the ‘gifts’ are meant to influence Christian voters to look favourably on their benefactor and political party. The donations are often accompanied by comprehensive coverage in the media.

All this has not been lost on the Bishops, who in the pastoral statement tell members of the clergy that gifts from politicians might compromise the church’s prophetic mission to speak truth to power.

“Remember that if we want peace, we must work for justice. As a conscience of the nation, the church must be non-partisan and avoid receiving gifts that have the potential to make it lose its prophetic voice. In the run-up towards the elections, the church remains committed to playing a reconciliatory and peace-building role,” said the church leaders in a document jointly signed by President of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops, George Cosmas Zumaire Lungu together with the heads of the Council of Churches in Zambia as well as the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia.

It is a message that has been repeated several times before by the church’s leadership to their clergy. However, Zambia’s economy is in such dire straits that the Bishops’ message sometimes falls on deaf ears. The Covid-19 emergency has worsened what was already a difficult financial situation.

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Iraq: Cardinal makes case for religion, state separation

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Iraq: Cardinal makes case for religion, state separation

One month after Pope Francis’s historic visit to Iraq, Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako has outlined his vision for the country going forward, making the bold suggestion of enforcing a stricter separation between religion and the state.

In a written reflection on the pope’s historic March 5-8 visit, Cardinal Sako called the papal trip “an ideal opportunity that all Iraqis must take advantage of to return, with all their confessions and religions, to themselves and their patriotism.”

This, he said, involves “turning the page from the past and opening a new page for reconciliation,” strengthening a sense of national fraternity, respecting differences, fighting for peace, rebuilding the country’s crumbling institutions and allowing displaced people to return to their homes.

Speaking on the importance of human fraternity as the basis of a peaceful coexistence, the cardinal insisted that “Iraqis, in principle and by constitution, are citizens with equal rights and duties, and citizenship cannot be limited to religion, creed, region, race, or number.”

“Citizenship is a universal right for everyone,” he said, adding, “We must discover new horizons for our fellow citizens, so that everyone feels that Iraq is their home.”

In this regard, he suggested that perhaps now is the time “to separate religion from the state and build a civil state, as the Christians West has done for a long time, and as the state of Sudan is doing in these days!”

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Cameroon: Pope mourns as Africa loses foremost cardinal

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Cameroon: Pope mourns as Africa loses foremost cardinal

Pope Francis has expressed his condolences for the death of Cardinal Christian Tumi, the African nation’s first Cardinal created by Pope St. John Paul II in 1988.

The Cameroon’s lone cardinal passed away on Good Friday, April 2, in a clinic in the Cameroonian city of Douala.

Pope Francis sent a telegram on Easter Sunday to express his condolences for the Cardinal’s death.
The Pope’s message was addressed to Archbishop Samuel Kleda, the Archbishop of Douala and Cardinal Tumi’s successor.

“On learning with sorrow of the death of our brother Cardinal Christian Tumi, I wish to express my condolences and my union in prayer with the College of Cardinals, the family and friends of the deceased, as well as with all those who mourn him,” wrote the Pope.

He added that Cardinal Tumi “left an unforgettable mark on the Church and on the social and political life” of Cameroon.

Cardinal Tumi served from 1979 as the Bishop of Yagoua, then as the Archbishop of Garoua, and finally as the Archbishop of Douala until his retirement in 2009.

Pope Francis said the late Cardinal always committed himself “courageously to the defense of democracy and the promotion of human rights.”

He also praised Cardinal Tumi’s desire to promote peace and reconciliation “in his old age.”
“He was a faithful collaborator of the Popes, assuming various offices in the Roman Curia,” wrote Pope Francis. “May the Lord welcome His servant into His peace and joy!”

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United States: Easter, God’s remedy for grieving hearts – Cardinal preaches

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United States: Easter, God's remedy for grieving hearts - Cardinal preaches

The risen Christ on Easter offers hope to people experiencing sorrows in their everyday lives and in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Washington Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory said at an Easter Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

“Easter is an unfolding experience of hope – hope at the very moment of grief,” Cardinal Gregory said in his homily, adding that “Easter is God’s remedy for the grieving heart.”

The Washington’s archbishop noted that in the face of the current global pandemic, he as a priest continues to grieve for the sorrow of people who must bear the loss of their loved ones in isolation, as people died of COVID-19 without family members being able to be with them.

He said he knows that he will encounter the loss of more family and friends, and that he himself will die one day.

“Still, Easter promises me and it promises you that the fear and grieving that those moments will surely offer are not our ultimate human destiny,” he said, adding, “Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to grieve; she came away filled with hope and with joy.”

Gregory said Easter “brings together many people who long to change their own sorrows to joy, their own doubts into hope and their own fears into faith.”

The message of Easter, he said, is that Christ is risen and death has been defeated.
“Easter gives us something to say in the very face of death – and that is Life and Alleluia

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