Rev. Fr. Paul Samasumo, ZEC SPOKESPERSON Date: 12th November 2010, 2010 NATIONAL CATHOLIC FORUM “The truth shall set you free” 2010 Catholic Forum convened in Lusaka, Zambia. 10th – 12th November 2010. The Catholic Forum, comprising Bishops, Priests and Lay Church Leaders, from the 10 Catholic Diocese of Zambia, namely Lusaka and Kasama Archdiocese, Mansa and Mpika Diocese, Chipata and Monze Dioceses, Livingstone and Mongu Diocese, and Ndola and Solwezi Diocese, attended this meeting under the Africa Synod theme, Church at the Service of Justice, Peace and Reconciliation, here in Lusaka, at the Zambia Episcopal Conference’s Kapingila Guesthouse, from 10 – 12 November, 2010. Preamble: To all people of good will! We, the legitimate lay Church Leaders in the Catholic Church greet you all in the name of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Shalom! WITH profound gratitude, taking into consideration the important role that our Bishops play within the Catholic set-up and taking into account the important consultative nature of this 2010 Catholic Forum, reaffirm as follows: Our Concern: In the past, it has become fashionable for political leaders and their agents to make unsubstantiated and false attacks on the Catholic Church, its leadership and its workers. Senior government officials have spearheaded false accusations that the Catholic Church is planning genocide as was the case was in Rwanda. We have also heard accusations that the Catholic Church and its leadership are advocating for regime change and have not only endorsed but are campaigning for a particular opposition political party and opposition candidate. Television documentaries have been facilitated on government owned and controlled Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) pursuing this same agenda of public deceit. The whole campaign has now reached a level where Catholic Church leaders are being threatened with violence. We have not spoken before as Lay Leaders on these matters not only to avoid giving them undeserved importance but to allow the public make their own judgement on the credibility of these accusations. People in Zambian have had the experience of the presence of the Catholic Church for a long time and they know too well how the Church in Zambia has at all time been committed to the welfare of society and the promotion of the common good. We are however compelled to use the opportunity of the 2010 National Catholic Forum to put issues in perspective and set the record straight on matters concerning the Catholic Church. 2. What is motivating these attacks on the Church? We are very much aware that this hate campaign on the Catholic Church is meant to put a wedge between the people of Zambia and the Catholic Church. This, it is hoped will weaken the voice of the Catholic Church on national issues. We must warn though that this is an action in futility. The people of Zambia are not as gullible as to fail to see such cheap schemes. The Catholic Church has loved and will continue to love the people of Zambia. The Church will always reach out to all people to help them live dignified lives. The Church will stand with them at all times in their joys, sorrows, hopes and anxieties. This is the calling of the Church which cannot be wished away by any form of persecution. 3. Where we are coming from? Those with good memories will recall that when it comes to national matters, the Catholic Church has been very consistent. Informed by its privileged position of being with and among the people, especially the poor, and hearing their cry, the Church as always taken a principled stand of denouncing injustice regardless of who the perpetrator is. This character of the Church has always not endeared it with those who perpetrate and even benefit from such injustice. The Church has not relented in demanding for a more just Zambia and it is not intending to do so now. We have seen politicians, including those attacking us now, swing from one side to another and shamelessly offering themselves to the highest bidder in search of comfortable positions. To the contrary, the Church is not for sale. It will remain steadfast and true to its mission. 4. The Mission of the Church The Mission of the Church is to bring the good news of Christ to the people of God. This is the news of liberation from poverty, corruption, bad governance, diseases, illiteracy, greed, tribalism and nepotism. These are barriers that block people from experiencing the love of their God. If the Church is to be true to its Mission, it needs to confront these challenges and animate solutions to these human problems. Involvement in these problems that confront people is integral to the process of evangelisation. The Church is non-partisan; it embodies people of different political affiliations. It encourages and respects their diverse political choices. The Church abhors violence and will never originate or encourage actions that stifle human dignity. The Church is love and all its actions will always be based on this principle. 5. We shall not relent in promoting the Church’s Mission In conclusion, we the Leaders meeting here in Lusaka, would like to re-state that the Catholic Church shall not relent in its Mission. It will not be slowed down or cowed by the desperate efforts of those who want to discredit it. It will emerge even stronger when the truth will be known.