From 1992 Catholic Pastoral Letter which ignite the birth of Democracy in Malawi

11 FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND
ASSOCIATION
Moreover, human persons are honoured —and
this honour is due to them—whenever they are
allowed to search freely for the truth, to voice
their opinions and be heard, to engage in
creative service of the community in all liberty
within the associations of their own choice.
Nobody should ever have to suffer reprisals for
honestly expressing and living up to their
convictions: intellectual, religious or political.
We can only regret that this is not always the
case in our country. We can be grateful that
freedom of worship is respected: the same
freedom does not exist when it comes to
translating faith into daily life. Academic
freedom is seriously restricted; exposing
injustices can be considered a betrayal;
revealing some evils of our society is seen as
slandering the country; monopoly of mass
media and censorship prevent the expression of
dissenting views; some people have paid dearly
for their political opinions; access to public
places like markets, hospitals, bus depots etc is
frequently denied to those who cannot produce
a party card; forced donations have become a
way of life.
This is most regrettable. It creates an
atmosphere of resentment among the citizens.
It breeds a climate of mistrust and fear. This
fear of harassment and mutual suspicion
generates a society in which the talents of many
lie unused and in which there is little room for initiative

14 A SYSTEM OF JUSTICE WHICH
WORKS FAIRLY
We would like to draw your attention to
another area of life in our society. We cannot
ignore or turn a blind eye to our people’s
experience of unfairness and injustice, for
example, those who, losing their land without
fair compensation, are deprived of their
livelihood, or those of our brothers and sisters
who are imprisoned without knowing when
their cases will be heard. In a just society, a
citizen must have easy access to an
independent and impartial court of justice
whenever his rights are threatened or violated.
In particular, before a penalty is imposed, it is in
the interest of justice and human dignity that
the accused be informed in good time of the
charge against him and be granted opportunity
for a fair trial and, where necessary, the
possibility of legal counsel. We call upon all and
particularly those responsible for the
administration of justice to ensure not only that
procedures are respected but also that
impartial judgment is rendered to the accused
person. This will only be possible if the
administration of justice is independent of
external influence, political or other. Our bond
of brotherhood and sisterhood in the one body
of Christ and our solidarity as a people should,
in love, compel us to hunger for the justice and
righteousness of the Lord in our society.In this context, we recall the words of Jesus at
the beginning of his ministry: ‘The Spirit of the
Lord is on me, for he has appointed me to bring
the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me
to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the
blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to
proclaim a year of favour from the Lord’. (Luke
4,18-19)
This appeal for fair treatment should also be
heard within the Church. We want to recall the
importance of adhering to procedures which
have been instituted to promote justice and
protect the rights of the faithful. Our Church
communities do need well-established and
competent forums for hearing various cases,
complaints and grievances of their members.
Those of us who have to pronounce judgment
on persons and situations are to view the
exercise of our authority as a service of the
truth for the common good as well as for the
well-being of the individual. In particular, we
exhort the people of God to respect the right of
defence of those accused of having committed
offences.
CONCLUSION
The issues raised in this letter will obviously
require an ongoing and more in-depth
reflection. It is the Church’s mission to preach
the Gospel which affects the redemption of the
human race and its liberation from every
oppressive situation, be it hunger, ignorance,
blindness, despair, paralysing fear, etc. Like
Jesus, the advocates of the poor and the
oppressed, the believing community is invited,
at times obliged in justice, to show in action a
preferential love for the economically
disadvantaged, the voiceless who live in
situations of hopelessness.
The human rights and duties identified in this
pastoral letter for our reflection are only some
of the issues that our God invites us to consider
seriously. In our response to God, we humbly
recognise that though a gifted and blessed
people, we are not a perfect community. If
some of our personal
weaknesses, biases and ambitions are not
purified by the word of God and just laws, they
can very easily destroy peace and harmony in
our societies and communities.
We hope that our message will deepen in all of
us the experience of conversion and the desire
for the truth and the light of Christ.
This will prepare us for the worthy celebration
of Easter, the feast of the risen Lord in whom
we see ourselves as a risen people with dignity

Archbishop J Chiona
Bishop F Mikhori
Bishop M A Chimole
Bishop A Assolari
Bishop A Chamgwera
Bishop G M Chisendera
Monsignor J Roche
Fr Gamba

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