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“Catholic Church not involved in politics”: Catholic Bishops in Madagascar Tell President

Some members of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar (CEM) with President Andry Rajoelina at a July 29 meeting. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic Bishops in Madagascar have told the President of the Indian Ocean Island country that the Church and her leadership exist, not to engage in politics, but to offer spiritual support and advice to all members of society including political leaders for the welfare of the country.

The Catholic Bishops' message follows the detention of one, Paul Rafanoharana, linked to the botched assassination of Madagascar’s President, and who claims to be an advisor of Archbishop Odon Marie Arsène Razanakolona, the Local Ordinary of Antananarivo Archdiocese. 

“The Catholic Church is not involved in politics and does not support any candidate for the post of Prime Minister, contrary to what is reported on social media,” members of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar (CEM) told President Andry Rajoelina at a July 29 meeting. 

In their message read out by CEM President, Désiré Cardinal Tsarahazana, the Catholic Bishops add, “The role of the Church is to offer spiritual support as well as to advise leaders on the right conduct to ensure social peace and stability of the nation.” 

The meeting follows the questioning of Archbishop Razanakolona amid investigations into the reported assassination attempt on President Rajoelina. 

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On July 22, authorities in Madagascar announced that President Rajoelina had survived an assassination attempt.

According to the Prosecutor’s office, “authorities allegedly foiled an assassination attempt on Rajoelina and apprehended several foreigners and Madagascar natives.”

Madagascar’s Public Security Minister was quoted as saying that six people had been arrested following the assassination attempt, including a foreign national, two binationals, and three Madagascan citizens.

"The police had information for several months, but only now was there an opportunity to arrest them," the Public Security Minister was quoted as saying.

In another statement, Prosecutor Berthine Razafiarivony has been quoted as saying, "Several foreign and Madagascar nationals were arrested on Tuesday, July 20, as part of an investigation into an attack on state security."

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"According to the evidence in our possession, these individuals had devised a plan for the elimination and neutralization of a number of people including the head of state," the Prosecutor added.

In their July 29 meeting with President Rajoelina, CEM members “strongly condemned the malicious intentions to take power through violence.”

Cardinal Tsarahazana was accompanied to the meeting by Bishop Marie Fabien Raharilamboniaina of Morondava Diocese and Bishop Jean-Claude Randrianarisoa of Miarinarivo Diocese.

The Catholic Church leaders encouraged the President to continue carrying out the challenging tasks that are part of the office he holds.

At the meeting, the Catholic leaders expressed their awareness of the socio-economic challenges the Indian Ocean Island nation is grappling with, including the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing inflation and the soaring prices of basic necessities, insecurity, the dilapidated state of the roads and corruption.

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