Monday, November 02, 2009

Human Rights and Catholic Community Radio in Africa

At the African Synod of Bishops in Rome the following intervention was made by
H. Exc. Mons. George Cosmas Zumaire LUNGU, Bishop of Chipata, President of the Episcopal Conference (ZAMBIA)

We have seen justice and peace commissions established in almost all our parishes and even in some Small Christian Communities (SCC). These commissions are making a huge difference in helping our Christians to make informed interventions in social matters. In part, because of the work of these justice and peace commissions, the Catholic Church, in Zambia, is considered by Catholics and non-Catholics as an institution that is credible and consistent in the promotion of human rights.

We have also been blessed in the area of social communications where we now have Catholic Community Radio stations in all but one of our ten dioceses. The radio stations are playing a big role in our evangelizing mission, such as the promotion of good governance and civic education. Rural communities, where illiteracy is very high, are now finding their voice, freely articulating their faith on radio on matters of justice in their own communities. Most of our radio stations also routinely make space for non-Catholics.

However, we are not complacent. We are aware that we have numerous challenges. For instance, like other countries blessed with mineral resources, we have multinational corporations in our country who have shown very little interest in promoting the welfare of our people, especially in the extractive industries like the mining sector. This sector is impacting negatively on the environment. For this reason Zambia is hosting a big international meeting on the impact of extractive industries on poor countries soon after this Synod concludes.

Furthermore, we are greatly challenged by the impact of poverty on the environment. For example, poverty is leading to wanton destruction of forests through charcoal burning and unsustainable cultivation methods. As a Church we need to come up with ways of mitigating this situation. I wish to urge, therefore, that this Synod makes a clear and strong statement on our concerns regarding issues of environmental justice as a contribution to the upcoming Copenhagen Conference on the Environment.