A PAS­TORAL LET­TER FROM THE HEADS OF CHURCHES OF THE CHRIS­TIAN COUN­CIL OF LE­SOTHO RE­GARD­ING ES­CA­LAT­ING CASES OF MUR­DER IN THE COUN­TRY

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis -

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

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