While noting that peace in Africa is “above all a political challenge,” the Togo-based cleric has asserted that politicians must first have the goodwill for them to be able to promote peace in their respective countries, failure to which, citing Psalm 61, the mouth of the leader “utters blessings, while their heart is cursing.”
As a means to curb the inciteful nature of politicians on the African continent especially during election time when much of the conflict starts, the multilingual cleric has called on the Church in the world’s second most populous continent to be more active in the political arena, while terming it as “disturbing to see the passivity with which the religious forces approach the electoral periods.”
“While politicians invade towns and villages to campaign sometimes on the basis of hate speech and divisions, the Church in particular, and religious forces in general, must also descend into smaller hamlets to defend values of peace, of living together, of political responsibility that engages every citizen,” Fr. Zagore proposes in his reflection shared with ACI Africa.
In his considered view, just as politicians know they will win an election only by meeting the people, the same way the Church “will never be able to meet the challenge of peace in an election period in Africa if Churchmen in Africa remain seated in their offices and sacristies. We must go out and meet people. The Church in Africa must go out.”
While referencing DR Congo’s Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo who asserted that “the duty of reserve remains a faculty proper to diplomats and not to clerics, since clerics are not diplomats, but are prophets,” Fr. Zagore expresses optimism that the Church in Africa “would benefit from being more prophetic by becoming more active and more present on the political field” than in being passive, an approach that is “a considerable asset for the politician.”
The West African missionary noted that religious leaders in Africa “speak too little and sometimes too late,” and recommended the need to incorporate in the theological formation of seminarians the skills that would make them not just good pastoral administrators but also good prophets.
“It would be better to make our ecclesial space a true and sincere place of expression,” Fr. Zagore has proposed and cautioned, “If the Church in Africa does not work constantly to revive the prophetic flame of her mission, she will eventually disappear.”
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