By: Thokozani Chapola
On Thursday August 26, the Apostolic Nuncio to Malawi and Zambia, His Excellency Gianfranco Gallone visited the diocese of Mangochi which is in the south eastern part of Malawi.
During his visit, he interacted with the bishop and priests of the diocese as well as celebrating mass in the St. Augustine’s Cathedral.
In his speech, bishop of Mangochi diocese Right Reverend Montfort Stima applauded the Pope’s envoy for his visit citing that it will help him to have a clear image of the diocese.
He however cited financial problems, wrangles between Catholics and Muslims in the area as well as church’s land encroachment by villagers, as some of the challenges that the diocese is facing.
“I could have just informed him that everything is going on well in the diocese and we don’t have any challenges, but I would be wrong to do so. I wanted him to have a picture of what we are facing. Since we are surrounded by the Muslim community, there are good and bad things which we encounter in our everyday operations; some of them being issues to do with running our schools, disagreements with our Muslim brothers as well as land encroachment,” the bishop said.
In his remarks, the Vatican’s ambassador His Excellency Gianfranco Gallone encouraged the priests to work with enthusiasm so that they bear the much more needed fruits.
He emphasized on the need for the priests to act like bridges in bringing peace among people of different religious affiliations bearing in mind that the Catholic church in the diocese is purely surrounded by a large population of Muslims. He however said that there is need for both sides to respect each other and always opt for dialogue in case of any challenges.
“This is a great occasion to experience the vitality of the church in Malawi. I have encouraged the priests of this diocese to continue with the moral enthusiasm in the field of evangelization to establish bridges to realize the true communion because we are also with persons that are not in the same community of faith with us but we can always dialogue because we are all the children of God,” said the Nuncio.
The Catholic Diocese of Mangochi which comprises of 25 parishes, is formed by Mangochi and Balaka districts as well as part of Machinga district. The total population of this area is over 2 million but about 300 thousand are Catholics and a large population of the remainder is made up of Muslims.
This is the first Malawian diocese to be visited by the current apostolic nuncio to Malwi and Zambia since his appointment in February 2019.