Original Research

Pastoral Letters and the Church in the public square: An assessment of the role of Pastoral Letters in influencing democratic processes in Malawi

Qeko Jere, Vhumani Magezi
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 39, No 1 | a1844 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v39i1.1844 | © 2018 Peter Q. Jere | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 February 2018 | Published: 03 July 2018

About the author(s)

Qeko Jere, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, South Africa
Vhumani Magezi, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, South Africa


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Abstract

The contributory role Pastoral Letters play in Malawi’s democracy cannot be underestimated. Historically, Pastoral Letters have been the voice of the Malawian people, and these have forced authorities to accommodate social and political reforms. From colonialism, federations and independence to the birth and consolidation of democracy, Pastoral Letters have been issued by the Church to State authority demanding political change and improvement in governance issues. For instance, Pastoral Letters issued by the Church put pressure on the British to end colonialism in Malawi, and in 1992, Pastoral Letters hugely contributed to the dismantling of Dr Kamuzu Banda’s, and the Malawi Congress Party’s, three-decade autocratic rule. Even in the multiparty dispensation, which was ushered in during 1994, Pastoral Letters have provided checks and balances to government in the consolidation of democracy. Thus, Pastoral Letters represent the voice of the voiceless in every political dispensation. The article is informed by the Pauline Pastoral Letters’ conceptual framework. The main argument governing this article is that unless there is continuity in the issuing of Pastoral Letters by the Church in addressing specific challenges within a democracy, sustainability of democratic value will always be compromised and not realised.

Interdisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This is an interdisciplinary article that touches on practical and public theology focusing on Church history and polity in assessing the role of Pastoral Letters in influencing the sustainability of democratic processes in a public square. The article contributes to a wider debate on the role the Church’s Pastoral Letters play in determining the sociopolitical landscape in Malawi. However, this is the only article written from a Pauline Pastoral Letters’ conceptual framework.

Keywords

Pastoral Letter; public square; Church; Democracy; Colonialism; Scriptural; Theological

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