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Wednesday, October 26, 2016
South Africa: church urges people to vote
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 The South Bishops have issued a pastoral letter, signed by Cardinal Napier, to be read in all Catholic churches this Sunday on the eve of the country's elections. Describing the election as "another giant step forward on our 'long walk to freedom, they warn of the danger of apathy. "There is a great danger for many of us to say, 'we have achieved our liberation. Let us sit down on our mats and relax.' Others may stretch out on the mat of disappointment, no longer interested in politics or in voting. "As your Bishops we raise our voices and encourage you to "Get up, roll up your mats of tiredness and disappointment. Get up and walk forward. Get up and vote. Get up, take an interest in your country. We appeal to the youth to go out and vote. Your voice must be heard in shaping the future. God has helped us gain our liberation - He wants us to continue this journey through the desert until all of us arrive at green pastures." Addressing politicians, they say: " You will be elected to serve your people and not to make use of your position to enrich yourselves at the cost of the very people who have elected you and pay your salaries. Do not sit on the beautiful mat of your high position and make yourself more and more comfortable on it. "Get up from this mat, roll it up, come down to your people, think of them, work for them, lead them to a better future. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord we appeal to you: Let the spirit of unselfish service penetrate your hearts and minds." They tell all political parties: "Listen to each other, do not regard those who have a different opinion as your enemies who should be eliminated. Get up from your mat of a vision restricted to your own party, listen to each other in order to find the way to a better life for all in our country which is tormented by HIV/AIDS, unemployment, poverty and crime." Finally, they issue the following appeal to all members of parishes, small Christian communities and associations. "Ten years ago we celebrated our liberation as a 'miracle'. We are convinced that without the help of God we would not have achieved our democracy in a peaceful wonderful way. However, the danger is that we sit down on this "mat of God's miracle" and forget to ask for help. "Therefore we urge you, dear people of God, "get up, pick up your mat", keep vigils, fast and pray that this miracle of our liberation might continue. A miracle is a gift from God. Therefore we have to pray for it, work for it, ask for it, plead for it. This is what we did ten years ago. "God himself is pleading with us to win our hearts. "I the Lord, am your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt ... But my people did not listen to my words; Israel did not obey me. So I gave them to hardness of heart; they followed their own designs." (Ps. 81:11-13) "Only God can help us to become unselfish servants of each other, only He can show us the way to greener pastures, to full and total liberation from new forms of slavery such as corruption, greed, hardness of heart and disrespect for life. Only God can heal the wounds of separation and injustice of the past. God is ready to accompany us. The letter ends with a prayer to pray at church services and meetings. Source: Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC)
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