According to the Bishop, 53 percent of the population is aged 18 and below. A majority of this population cannot, however, get an education since not many trained teachers are willing to venture into “isolated regions” in the country.
“We want to be able to educate the young people, so as to restore their sense of human dignity, help them to find work, to better educate their children; we want to be able to speak to them of God and help them in their vocation… But it is difficult to find teachers who will come to such isolated regions,” he said.
Besides Islamisation, sorcery and illiteracy, Bishop Puthiyakulangara revealed that the Indian Ocean Island nation, where Pope Francis visited last September, is grappling with popular justice, which he said has been characterized by people taking the law into their own hands.
He hinted at past incidences in the country where suspects had been killed for indulging in petty crimes.
“Given the poverty everywhere, especially in the villages, a simple thing such as the theft of a chicken can mean that a person is judged by the village people and the thief is later found dead,” the Bishop said.
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The Prelate also revealed that the country is struggling with corruption, which he described as “terrible” and “deeply ingrained.”
In the 2019 Corruption Perception Index report, Transparency International (TI) described Madagascar as among the several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that have significantly declined on the global corruption ranking and that there, “Money is used to win elections, consolidate power and further personal interests.”
To mitigate the crisis, the Prelate told ACN International that the Church had focused on educating the masses and growing the Church by providing catechism classes.
“We are working very hard to educate the people, through... homilies, by teaching the catechism and also through the justice and peace commissions which we have established in all the dioceses.”
To facilitate the taking of the gospel to the periphery, Bishop Puthiyakulangara appealed for prayers saying, “I ask you also to pray for my diocese. It covers an area of over 13,000 square miles (33,367 km²) and I have only 33 priests. I really have a great need for new vocations, of missionaries to evangelize and announce the Good News”
“We have many challenges, but God and the Virgin Mary are giving us the courage to move forward. We have our crosses, but we retain our trust in God. And we are also praying for all our benefactors, that we may work together for the glory of God,” he concluded.