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 CNS Story:

ZAMBIA-DEFEND Apr-6-2010 (220 words) xxxi

Zambian priests defend bishops who speak against government corruption

By Mwansa Pintu
Catholic News Service

LUSAKA, Zambia (CNS) -- Priests in Zambia pledged to step up efforts to defend the country's bishops from increased intimidation by government officials for speaking out against bad governance and tolerance of corruption.

The priests offered their support to the bishops following separate pastoral council meetings in Mpika and Kasama in northern Zambia in mid-March.

Zambian bishops have criticized the government for corrupt practices and for not addressing broad concerns such as safety issues in the mining industry, ever-rising food prices, regular power outages, finalizing the draft of a new constitution and continuous voter registration.

In a joint statement issued after the meetings, the priests said the insults from Catholic and non-Catholic politicians to the Zambian church's top leadership were saddening and insulting to the entire Catholic population.

"The role of the Catholic Church is to speak for the voiceless by bringing out issues of injustice and ensure fair play to liberate the captives," the statement said.

Specifically addressing statements from officials and state-organized demonstrations aimed at Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu of Lusaka, the priests said they fully support the prelate.

"The archbishop should not be intimidated for speaking the truth," the priests said. "We are also asking all corrupt Catholic politicians holding public office to resign because they have failed to protect their archbishop. They are a shame to the Catholic Church and its leadership."

END


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