Let’s Fast “for our country”: Catholic Bishop in South Africa ahead of General Elections

Bishop Neil Augustine Frank of the Catholic Diocese of Mariannhill in South Africa Credit: SACBC

Bishop Neil Augustine Frank of the Catholic Diocese of Mariannhill in South Africa is appealing to Christians in the country to fast during lent for the good of the African nation as it prepares for general elections. 

In his Lenten reflection on this year’s first Friday of Lent, February 16, Bishop Frank says, “During this Lent, let us offer our fasting for our country as we prepare for the general elections.”

“Let us fast, that the elections would be peaceful; that we would have a government that cares for the poor; that we will have honest leaders,” he emphasizes.

On a date the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, is yet to make public, eligible voters are to take part in the country’s seventh general election organized under the universal adult suffrage conditions since the apartheid era ended in 1994. 

Members of the National Assembly and those of the Provincial Legislature in each of the country’s nine Provinces are to be elected. The Chief Justice is to oversee the election of the country’s president from among the members of the National Assembly, which is the lower house of Parliament.


In his reflection, Bishop Frank uses the Readings of the day to caution against fasting that overlooks the needs of others and acts of mercy, compassion as well as justice. 

The South African member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) goes on to highlight some of the situations in South Africa that call for appropriate fasting, saying, “The poor are burdened with the yoke of debts, oppressed with higher inflation, and suffer from the wickedness of corruption in a country that had enough money for all.”

“We know too well the unrighteousness of our nation as we approach the general elections of this year. We know that the dreams of 1994 have been shattered,” Bishop Frank laments. 

He continues referring to the First Reading from the Prophet Isaiah “The Lord reminds us: ‘Is this not the fast that I choose? To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, to share the bread with the hungry, to bring the homeless poor into your house, and to cover the naked.”

“With this kind of fasting, the Lord promises that He will answer when we call.  He promises light and healing in our Darkness; He is the bridegroom that ends all fasting, that brings fulfillment and true freedom,” says Bishop Frank, referring to the Gospel Reading.

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Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.