FORMER Chipata Diocese Auxiliary bishop Benjamin Phiri has ordered that politicians should not be allowed to do politics in Catholic churches.
Bishop Phiri says when the clergy counsels politicians it does not mean they have a hidden motive.
Bidding farewell to Petauke Deanary at St Oscar’s Parish on Saturday, Bishop Phiri who was recently appointed Ndola Diocese Bishop said those who were in political parties were just mere Christians when they go to church.
“I repeat no politics! No politics! If you are in a political party, it’s just there (where you do politics from). When you come here, you are just a mere Christian. We should worship and know God. Your political party is not God, your leader is not God, he or she is just a person like you,” he said. “They will die just like you, but maybe you can be the first one to die because you are a cadre and your friends will hit you and you will die early. That is why even when we invite politicians to our functions, we normally tell them that ‘no politics here’ just talk about things that are for the common good.”
Bishop Phiri urged Christians to remain real in whatever they do.
“Let us not use our blessings and positions to offend God because God is going to punish you. I can assure you my dear brothers and sisters there is no one who offends God and gets away with it, never. Don’t use your privileged position to offend God. Use your position for the common good. You are a servant and that is what you will remain,” he said. “You are just a servant, when you have served well, you have only done your duty. Don’t wait for people to pat you on the back, you have just done your duty because you are a servant.”
Bishop Phiri urged those that were in offices to stop abusing people.
“Many people suffer because you are not giving them the service they require. You want to be paid, you are eating your own condemnation. You exploit them and eat whatever…you don’t deliver, you are condemning yourself. Serve as if you are serving God Himself,” he said.
Bishop Phiri urged leaders to lead people well.
“Whether you are a government leader, traditional leader or any other leader, when you are chosen you should not be the only person to benefit from that position. You just change vehicles like chitenge materials when the people you serve are at the same level. Even us church leaders sometimes do that. We see churches where somebody would not have anything but when they say ‘I am prophet so and so and I heal’, people start flocking to that person and in the end that person starts getting a lot of money,” he said. “First they will start buying cheap vehicles which we all use. When they see that such vehicles are too common, then they start buying expensive vehicles like Hummer, later they start buying planes in the name of Jesus, that is nonsense.”
Bishop Phiri said church leaders served the people for the common good.
“Even you from government, your job is to serve the people but we supplement you but mostly it’s your job. I would like to thank you that we have been working together and I think it will be the same moving forward. We, from the church, need to work with the government of the day because our aim is to wish our people well,” he said.
Bishop Phiri said the church always wanted to work with government in the provision of social services.
“We are always prepared to work with government and when we give counsel it is because of the love that we have for you who are in government positions not because we have other motives. Most of the times, us who are in the church have no motive to stop our work so that we could compete with others. So that we take up government work, no. This is the reason why when we give counsel it is always in the light of the gospel,” said Bishop Phiri.
Meanwhile, Petauke district commissioner Velenasi Moyo urged Bishop Phiri to continue working with the government.
Moyo said Bishop Phiri was equal to the challenge that his new office would pose.
“You the clergy are looked at as custodians of peace and promoters of good morals. I wish you all the best and I am very convinced that you will perform the duties of the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ndola diligently. Let me take this opportunity to appeal to all the clergy here around Petauke to take a leaf from Right Reverend Dr Benjamin Phiri and emulate his works,” urged Moyo.
The mass was also attended by senior chief Kalindawalo of the Nsenga people in Petauke.
Bishop Phiri worked as Auxiliary Bishop for Chipata Diocese for nine years before being appointed as Ndola Bishop.