Thursday, December 27, 2007

Zambia: Splinter Catholic Church Launched

A SPLINTER Catholic Church called the Catholic Apostolic National Church of Zambia has been launched with Archbishop-elect, Luciano Mbewe, calling for more priests to join the church and fulfill their God-given role by marrying.

Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) spokesperson, Paul Samasumo, said in reaction that he did not have much information about the newly formed church but was aware that the Catholic bishops in Zambia would preside over the matter next month.

Father Samasumo said in an interview in Lusaka that the newly formed church had created parallel structures in the Roman Catholic Church and could not claim to be part of the Church.

Archbishop Mbewe said during the launch of the new church which has strong links with excommunicated prelate Emmanuel Milingo that the hour had come for priests in the Roman Catholic Church to start marrying and taking care of their forsaken children.

Archbishop Mbewe who is also the apostolic administrator of the new church said over the years most priests had laboured quietly and prudently to advocate for the restoration of married priests in the Roman Catholic Church.

Archbishop Mbewe said during the ceremony held at Peace Embassy that there were moments that the priests hoped the restoration of married priests would be made possible.

Other church leaders who had since been co-opted in the church attended the lunch.

"We feel duty bound now to found our own Catholic church, an independent Catholic church where we can truly enjoy the freedom enjoyed by children of God. It should surprise no one to hear of yet another Catholic church," he said.

Archbishop Mbewe said there were other independent churches that came into existence especially in the 1870 AD when some bishops broke away from Rome over the issue of Papal infallibility.

He said freedom of worship as enshrined in the United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU) charters stipulated that it was an inalienable right to found churches and worship God without any interference from any quarter.

Archbishop Mbewe who served as a Roman Catholic priest for over 17 years said the problem of mandatory and compulsory celibacy for priests in the Roman Catholic Church was crucial.

He said profound pain and suffering had been caused to priests as a result of celibacy and that most of this pain and suffering was uncalled for.

He said the celibacy found in the Bible was not compulsory but optional. Archbishop Mbewe said Jesus Christ refused to make celibacy compulsory but left it optional.

"The majority of these priests and bishops do not have this gift, they are like the majority of humanity and they deserve to marry and still continue to minister to God's people," he said.

Archbishop Mbewe said it was a known fact that nearly all the apostles to Jesus and the first Pope, Peter were married and so were the other 28 Popes as the Holy Bible stated that being accompanied by a wife in the ministry was not a minus but a great asset.

He said celibacy was made compulsory in the 12th Century for dubious reasons but it was never accepted in practice.

He said the priests and bishops resisted the man-made law and they appeared celibate in public yet privately they were going out with women, a scenario, which he said even prevailed today.

Archbishop Mbewe said the celibacy issue had led to some priests contracting HIV/AIDs.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Mbewe said the church should work with the Government of the day. He said days are gone when the Church was the enemy of the State.


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