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The corrupt empowerment scheme enters our church

Last week the Minister of Religious Affairs and National Guidance, Godfridah Sumaili, launched the empowerment scheme for churches and religious and faith based organisations.

Sumaili said this was the fulfillment of the promise made to the Church by Edgar Lungu at a meeting with the clergy held in November last year.

These so-called empowerment schemes are nothing but a corrupt way of seeking political support for Edgar’s third term bid.

Edgar has never explained the source of the money he has been dishing out. If the source of this money was clean there would be no secrecy about it. This is nothing but dirty money from corrupt sources.

And it seems no corrupt persons and institutions will be left behind in receiving this corrupt money, including the Church.

There’s an ocean of grief from the corruption now painfully evident in the Church, not the church understood as the people of God, but the hierarchical church.

The Church is not essentially the hierarchy or its organisational apparatus. It is a community of memory, keeping alive the story of Jesus Christ. The Church’s ordained ministers and its structures and social systems are meant to sustain that memory which remains the church’s foundation.

There’s a Latin proverb which says “Corruptio optimi pessima,” the corruption of the best is the worst.

We have seen the best of the Church. We have seen the everyday goodness, generosity and perseverance of the people of God. Aware of this goodness, the corrupt strands knotted in the very centre of the institutional church are painful to acknowledge and difficult to confront. For us and for many others, it is indeed the corruption of the best.

We also learned that the Church is “simul justus et peccator” — both saint and sinner. Both whole (holy) and corrupt.

So we search for a calculus of corruption.

And we understand that all things finite sooner or later encounter some form of corruption, some form of death. We also understand that governments, justice systems, corporations and educational systems are never without their own often hidden currents of corruption.

Yes, social sin and structural, systemic corruption abound. But the kind of moral perversity that we see in the Church today deserves no quarter. Nor can we tolerate its justification. And so we ask, how “much” corruption can we tolerate in our nation, in our Church before we leave?

In our unease, we turn to the prophets.

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