“Church cannot remain indifferent to political question”: Mauritian Cardinal

The Bishop of Mauritius' Port Louis Diocese, Maurice Cardinal Piat

The head of the Catholic Church in Mauritius has defended church leaders in the Indian Ocean Island nation against accusations of interfering with the running of the country noting that they cannot “remain indifferent.”

In an interview with weekly La Vie Catholique, the Bishop of the country’s Port Louis Diocese, Maurice Cardinal Piat said that while church leaders “should not interfere in party politics,” it cannot be that they “remain indifferent to the political question, in the sense of the life of the city, of the country.”

“At this level, many questions arise, which all citizens, including Christians, must remain very vigilant: for example questions relating to corruption, freedom of expression, social justice, discrimination, great poverty, drugs, access to housing and work etc.,” Cardinal Piat said in the interview published on the website of his Diocese, Tuesday, March 2.

Responding to the claim by the journalist that the Mauritian government “is not always happy with his positions,” the Cardinal said, “My speeches can upset the authorities in place or please an opposition seeking support, or vice versa. But when I speak, I do not speak to please or to flatter the government or the opposition.”

“My concern is to contribute to the common good of the whole of Mauritian society,” the member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans) said.


In making his case against the interference accusations, Cardinal Piat referenced Pope Francis’ 2013 Apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ in which the Holy Father said, “Pastors …have the right to express opinions on everything concerning the lives of people, as long as the task of evangelization involves and demands the integral promotion of every human being.”

“Consequently, no one can demand of us that we relegate religion to the secret privacy of people, without any influence on social and national life, without worrying about the health of institutions of civil society, without expressing themselves on them - events of interest to citizens,” the Cardinal further said, in reference to the 2013 Papal document.

The 79-year-old Cardinal also made reference to last month’s anti-government demonstrations organized by opposition parties in the country during which protestors called on the country’s leadership to be accountable.

The Cardinal said that the protests “are a sign of a certain democratic breath in Mauritian society.”

Since Mauritius is a democracy governed by the rule of law, Mauritians have to go through the ballot if they want a change of the government or a consolidation of the democratic structures, he said, cautioning against unlawful attempts to unseat political leaders in the Indian Ocean Island nation.

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“A general election does not ask citizens to vote simply for a candidate, but also and above all to clearly express to all the candidates present what their expectations are and what conditions they must meet if they want us to vote for them,” the Mauritian Cardinal said.

The “least of things” in a democratic society like that of the Island nation is that “elected representatives truly represent the people and rigorously take into account the explicit expectations of those who voted for them,” he further observed.

“Voting for someone doesn't mean giving them a blank check. This is why it is good for citizens to mobilize, but they must do so on concrete points such as the financing of political parties, electoral reform which are central questions, which condition the health of a democracy,” the Spiritan Cardinal said in the interview published March 2.

It is in the spirit of citizen mobilization that the Diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission “proposed concrete lines of policies to be pursued in several areas in a document entitled ‘Voting with discernment,’” the Local Ordinary of Port Louis Diocese said.