A PASTORAL LETTER FROM THE HEADS OF CHURCHES OF THE CHRISTIAN COUNCIL OF LESOTHO REGARDING ESCALATING CASES OF MURDER IN THE COUNTRY
To our Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, We, as the leaders of the Church, undersigned, greet the faithful and the people of Good will in the Name of our Saviour Jesus Christ. As your spiritual leaders, we want to remind you that it is through Christ that God redeemed us.
He took our humanity in order to experience everything that we experience since “He himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). Therefore, we urge you to unite, love, respect and tolerate each other regardless of your political differences and diverse perspectives because you are the children of God. We are aware of the escalating cases of murder and are very much concerned about this situation.
Crime statistics vary year to year starting from 2013 to 2016 and we face far higher rates of murder in the country. God categorically says, “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13). our families are torn by violence. our communities are destroyed by violence. our faith is tested by violence.
We, as your spiritual leaders, have an obligation to respond. Violence is destroying the lives, dignity and hopes of the people. Fear of violence is paralyzing and polarizing our communities. Hostility, hatred, despair and indifference are at the heart of a growing culture of violence.
our social fabric, as Basotho who have been known by a culture of peace, is being torn apart by a culture of violence that leaves people dead and families afraid in our homes.
our society seems to be growing numb to human loss and suffering. A nation born in a commitment to life, liberty, peace and pursuit of happiness is haunted by death; imprisoned by fear and caught up in the elusive pursuit of protection rather than happiness. Government ought to retain the primary role for ensuring the survival, livelihood and dignity of the people.
It has to protect the vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfilment. It means protecting people from critical and pervasive threats and situations. We, therefore, urge the government to seriously undertake its role to protect the people.
It does not have to be this way. It was not always this way. We can turn away from violence. We can build communities of greater peace. It begins with a clear conviction: respect for life. Respect for life is a fundamental moral principle flowing from the Church teaching on the dignity on the human person (Genesis 1:27). We, therefore, strongly condemn heinous crimes. We also strongly appeal to the people committing these evil acts to stop immediately. It is an approach to life that values people over things.
Respect for life must guide the choices we make as individuals and as a society: What we do and what we do not do; what we value and consume; what we support and what we oppose. Respect for human life is the starting point for confronting a culture of violence. We strongly call for change of hearts. It is time, in the words of Deuteronomy 30:19, to “choose life so that you and your descendants may live...” We must realize that peace is most fundamen- tally a gift from God (John 14:27). Let us, therefore, hear and act with new urgency on the words of Jesus: “Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
MAY THE PEACE OF THE LORD BE WITH YOU. Archbishop G. T. Lerotholi OMI Roman Catholic Church Bishop A. M. Taaso Anglican Church of Lesotho `Rev. T. S. Masemene Lesotho Evangelical Church of Southern Africa. Rev. M. Mokhosi African Methodist Episcopal Rev. B. M. Setshedi Methodist Church of Southern Africa Rev. M. Sekese Assemblies of God Lesotho