By: Fr. Henry Chinkanda, ECM CPLO
The Director of the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO), based in Cape Town – South Africa, Fr. Peter-John Pearson, visited the CPLO in Malawi from 20th to 22nd November, 2018. The main objective of the visit was to share the best practices and experiences as the Church ministers to Politicians who hold important and influential positions in the public domain.
A number of activities were lined up for the visit which included a visit to Parliament, a courtesy visit to the Archbishop of Lilongwe, celebration of Holy Mass and an interface evening with Catholic Parliamentarians and a number of inspiring ideas emerged during the visit
Mass was celebrated on the memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the temple and just like Mary was presented to be a source of blessings to the multitude of people through her Son Jesus Christ, politicians too are called to be vessels of blessings for others in the public domain.
Commenting on the parable of the Gospel of the day about pounds or talents that God has given each one of us, Fr. Pearson said politicians are called to play a special role in society
“You have been called to play a special role in the public space to use and share the God-given talents and resources not only in words but in action. Most politicians do not usually lack words, but they lack action. One Pound was multiplied to become ten Pounds. The resources that God has given us in Malawi should be multiplied and become blessings for all by those who hold positions of influence in society.
During the interface evening with the Catholic Members of Parliament, the Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, Fr. Henry Saindi welcomed both the Guest of Honour, Fr. Pearson and the Politicians to the Catholic Secretariat, where the event was taking place. He called on them, as Catholic Members of Parliament, to be the light and salt as they serve and discharge their duties in the Malawian society.” Said Fr. Pearson
On his part Fr. Henry Chinkanda, the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Officer in Malawi, said besides the spiritual and pastoral services offered to the politicians, the CPLO in Malawi exerts its energies in Formation programmes aimed at forming good leaders in the light of the Catholic Social Teaching.
“Good leaders need to be formed in conscience because it is from the inner self that one has a heart to feel, a mind to think properly and a will to make correct decisions. We concentrate on formation because we know that trying to lobby and advocate for pro-poor and good policies with leaders that have an erroneous conscience is an effort that would probably yield no positive results”. Said Fr. Chinkanda
Fr. Pearson continued by encouraging the politicians to never be influenced by public opinion but rather stand in their own blessings and don’t downgrade their dreams to meet circumstances
“Public opinion shapes us all, including politicians. But, as St. Thomas More once said, “When statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of public duties and opinion, they lead their country by a short route to Chaos. Thus, we should never give in and try to become what people think about us, rather, upgrade your faith to meet your destiny. Our faith is bigger than our fear. He said
The comments and reactions from the Members of Parliament showed that they had been inspired by the events and interventions that were made by different people. They appreciated the practice in South Africa where handouts are not allowed to attract the electorate to vote for a particular candidate. They reported that a similar bill, prohibiting the giving of handouts in order to win votes in Malawi, would be tabled during the current Parliament session. They finally expressed their desire to have similar interface occasions in future.