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Zambia’s President Acknowledges Catholic Church as “beacon of hope, nation's conscience”

President Hakainde Hichilema (R) and Archbishop Giafranco Gallone (L) at a meeting. Credit: Hakainde Hichilema/Facebook

The President of Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema, has acknowledged the significant role of the Catholic Church in the Southern African nation, describing the entity as a “beacon of hope” and “a barometer of our nation's conscience.”

In a Tuesday, February 15 message issued after a meeting with the Holy Father’s representative in Zambia and Malawi, Archbishop Giafranco Gallone, the Zambian Head of State said that plans are underway for him to visit Pope Francis in Rome. 

“The Catholic Church in Zambia has continued to be a beacon of hope, an advocate of social justice and a barometer of our nation's conscience,” President Hichilema said in the message published on Facebook. 

He added, “The Catholic Church has also continued to play a pivotal role in areas of education, health and the promotion of democracy and good governance in Zambia.”

“Zambians are very grateful for this selfless and enduring service rendered to their communities by the Church,” said President Hichilema who has been at the helm of the country since August last year.

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In the Facebook post, President Hichilema said he discussed with the Apostolic Nuncio in Zambia about his planned visit to the Vatican "at the invitation of the Holy Father Pope Francis."

"Zambia and the Holy See have enjoyed a long cordial bilateral relationship since our independence," the Zambian President said. 

In a different Facebook post, President Hichilema says he has accepted the Holy Father's invitation "with humility and great honor." 

The Zambian Head of State is expected to visit the Vatican this weekend after attending the European Union (EU) - African Union (AU) Summit in Brussels, Belgium. 

When realized, the visit will make him the second Zambian Head of State to visit Pope Francis at the Vatican, after his immediate predecessor, President Edgar Lungu who visited the Pontiff in 2016

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Following the 2016 visit, the former Head of State’s special assistant for press and public relations, Amos Chanda, said Pope Francis urged the President to promote dialogue in the country. 

Pope Francis also called on President Lungu to resolve conflicts in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mr. Chamda reported.