CATHOLIC Church Vicar General for Mansa Fr Mambwe Mpasa says Frank Bwalya is no longer a priest because he cannot be a priest and president of a political party at the same time.
Fr Mpasa says his heart bleeds for the Catholic Church to lose an energetic young man like Bwalya.
“It is wrong for people to call him president Fr Bwalya because our Canon Law does not allow us to involve ourselves in politics up to that extent. We cannot hold political offices and at the same time be priests. And I think this is an impression that should be corrected. If he is a president, then he should ask the church to be freed from priesthood,” he said.
Fr Mpasa said he was saddened by Bwalya’s decision to leave the priesthood and join politics.
He wondered what better thing Bwalya had seen in politics than in priesthood, which made him leave the religious leadership.
“What has he seen in politics that makes him leave the holy priesthood? What services is he going to offer to the people that he couldn’t in priesthood? What is it, which is better than being a religious leader? My heart really bleeds to lose such an energetic young man,” Fr Mpasa said.
“I’m really sad. I say so because we Catholic priests are not allowed to involve ourselves in active politics. So, if Fr Bwalya has formed a party of which he will be the leader, that is an indicator that he has left priesthood. He is no longer a priest because he cannot be a priest and be president of any political party,” said Fr Mpasa.
He advised Bwalya to apply for laicisation in order for him to be relieved of his priesthood.
He hoped that Bwalya would be laicised in order for him to become a layperson so that people could stop calling him ‘Father’ but ‘Mr’ Bwalya.
“If he has done that (forming a political party), then he has given up priesthood and I think I want to believe that he has applied for laicisation from his Bishop so that he can be relieved of his duties. Laicisation is a process of making somebody become a layperson. It’s either the priest who wants to leave should apply for it or the Bishop must enforce on such a priest to relieve him of his clerical work and become a lay person. He will stop being called Fr Bwalya but Mr Bwalya ” explained Fr Mpasa.
Fr Mpasa hoped that Bwalya had nothing against the Catholic Church but had just discovered a different vocation which could not accommodate priesthood.
Meanwhile, Fr Mpasa has cautioned Bwalya not think the popularity he was enjoying as a priest would follow him in politics.
“I just hope and pray that my brother has not overrated himself. I have seen people leaving the pulpit for politics who have proved to be failures. I hope my brother has done his homework and is not overrating himself. The popularity he had as a priest is different from what he is going to have as a politician. He might have had a lot of following because people thought he was promoting and preaching justice and peace for them and they followed him. I pray that he has not been cheated by a few, who told him to form a political party” said Fr Mpasa.
And Zambia Episcopal Conference president Archbishop Ignatius Chama says Ndola Bishop Alick Banda gave his position on Bwalya a long time ago.
Asked what ZEC’s position was on Bwalya, Archbishop Chama of Kasama said on Wednesday that Bwalya was a priest under Ndola Diocese.
“What do you mean? There is no position. Position from ZEC over a Diocesan priest!” Archbishop Chama exclaimed. “What are you talking about? A position should come from his own ordinary and his own ordinary was given a long time ago.”
Archbishop Chama said reference should be made to the statement that was given by Bishop Banda on Bwalya sometime back.
In August 2011, Bishop Banda granted Bwalya, who was then Radio Icengelo station manager and Change Life Zambia CLZ executive director, indefinite leave of absence from priesthood to allow him to concentrate on his personal life.
According to the memorandum dated August 29, 2011, Bishop Banda ordered Bwalya not to act or represent the Catholic Church in any way during his indefinite leave, and further asked him not to perform any priestly duties, wear priestly attire and to be away from the presbytery during his leave.
Bishop Banda said the church had consented to Bwalya’s request and granted him indefinite leave of absence.
Bishop Banda advised Bwalya to remain obliged and maintain his celibacy until the competent ecclesiastical authority determines a new way of life.
And Fr Bwalya says he will marry when he becomes president if there will be need to do so.
Speaking when he featured on 5FM Radio’s Burning issue programme yesterday, Fr Bwalya maintained that he could not marry right now because he was still a priest and was tied to the obligations of priesthood.
“I am not sure if somebody thinks that their sister may have somebody finally…I am still a priest. I am still under vows or obligations of priesthood. I cannot marry but when I become president or before I become president, if it becomes clear that I need to marry, I will make the decision at that time,” he said. “I am sure when I am in State House there will be big headlines saying ‘president Frank Bwalya marries’.”
Fr Bwalya said he was thriving on the edge among Zambians for a new type of politics for his popularity as leader of a newly formed opposition political party.
He alleged that Zambians were angry at President Michael Sata’s tendency of curtailing people’s freedom of speech using the police.
“It’s very clear when you go to a police station that the police are dead scared… There is too much fear and intimidation on the part of many state institutions, the police included,” Fr Bwalya claimed.
He said it was true that he had gotten ‘mad’ as many people had assumed.
“Yes I am very mad about corruption, about leaders who continue to try to put in place subsidies and cushioning the impact of the same on the ordinary people. I am very mad with the President whom I believed was an action man and was going to give former Mpelembe Drilling Workers their dues and then suddenly goes quiet,” Fr Bwalya said. “I get very mad and I am mad when I see a President who was perceived to be man of the people goes to State House and is never found in a compound to go and check what is happening.”
He said President Sata should give a clear direction where he was taking the country.
“That is why they say ‘Isabi ukubola itampila ku mutwe (The fish starts rotting from the head),” said Fr Bwalya.