Catholic bishops have vowed not to relent speaking against social injustices despite the death of Mzuzu Diocese Bishop Joseph Mukasa Zuza last year.
Bishop Dr Martin Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese spoke of the unwavering stand on Friday when he led nearly 2 000 Malawians in remembering the fallen leader who died in a car accident in the Viphya Plantations on January 15 last year.
Government set aside the date as a national holiday in honour of the country’s premiere martyr John Chilembwe, but the Catholics of the Northern region gathered in Mzuzu and Karonga to remember Zuza who is hugely respected for riding to the occasion to challenge dictatorial tendencies of fallen President Bingu wa Mutharika.
At the height of Bingu’s draconian role, the late bishop became talk of the nation for telling the fallen President one who does not respect the views of other could actually be a fool or “chindele chakufikapo”.
Bishop Mtumbuka eulogised Zuza as a sociable, humble, courageous and dedicated servant of God and humankind.
“Bishop Zuza was honest and very patient, but he never minced words when the situation demanded so. He might have riled some politicians because of his forthrightness, but it is all vanity if we remember him in this light. He was a religious leader, a selfless and brave defender of faith,” Mtumbuka said.
During the memorial, the bishop of Karonga rallied Catholics to root their belief in Jesus Christ and stand strong in defence of their faith.
He said: “Don’t be intimidated by people who memorise one verse in our catechism, the pagans and non – believers who claim to know and understand your faith better than you do do.
“If there is anything we remember about Bishop Zuza, it is that he was steadfast in defending his faith in Christ, your faith.”
The memorial was attended by the Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya who told Nation on Sunday that he derived the virtue of humility and honesty from the deceased clergyman.
“I honour Bishop Zuza as a Christian, not a politician. He always spoke the truth regardless of the situation and remained humble regardless of whether one was rich or poor. He was a great man,” Msowoya said.
The congregation clapped and ululated when their representative Benedicto Nyondo and Fr Charles Chinula saluted the deceased bishop for selflessly accepting Karonga to be a standalone district.
Karonga and Chitipa were part of Mzuzu Diocese until July 2010 when Pope emeritus Benedict XI proclaimed it a standalone Diocese.
He was ordained in 1995, replacing Bishop Jobidon’s successor Monsignor John Roche who was banished from Malawi having appended his signature to Living Our Faith, the famous pastoral letter by the Episcopal Conference of Malawi which helped pave the way for the end of founding president Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s rule.
During his consecration 21 years ago, the then President Bakili Muluzi saluted Zuza for courageously running the diocese since Roche was declared persona non grata.
As the mourning faithful ventured into St Marys, the diocese’s Radio Tuntufye played a 2010 clip of Zuza urging catechists to replace fear with courage.
“Soldiers go to war knowing some of them will die in the heat of the battle, but they don’t cease fighting for their country,” he told the grassroot leaders of the church.
The speech perfectly mirrored the inner burning urge of the much loved bishop whom the faithful reminisced as a person who could dance and interact with anybody indiscriminately.
In Mzuzu, diocesan administrator Fr Mughogho led the congregation in laying wreaths on the grave of the leader who at the time of his death was chairperson of ECM and Chancellor of Catholic University.n