Bishops’ letter on Stewardship advises against over trusting leaders

Catholic Bishops in Zimbabwe recently weighed in on poor management of local parishes, Church and public institutions saying ‘over trusting’ leaders often leads to monopoly of ideas and resources by those in charge and at the end crumples the system.’

The Bishops Conference’s pastoral letter titled Stewardship in the Service of the Church and God's People reminded Catholic institutions leadership and public office holders that stewardship is about taking active responsibility of that which is entrusted to one’s care.

“Stewardship is about taking active responsibility of that which is entrusted to our care through managing, nurturing, controlling and proper administration so that the available resources meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

The letter was released on 4th of February 2018 and it strengthened the message sent out in the Elections Peace and Development pastoral letter released in 2017 ahead of the country’s harmonised elections. 

ZCBC Secretary General, Fr Fredrick Chiromba explained that the pastoral letter focused on stewardship because of what was happening in the society and that influences the Church.

He also indicated the message on stewardship is a way for the church to examine itself. 

“The goods and services that the church owns are important to support the material and spiritual life of the people of God,” read the letter. 

“There is need for a deep spiritual formation for priests, religious and the laity so that they understand their role in the administration and protection of the Church's property”.

The letter, further admonishes the ignorance of over trusting leaders as it has led to the crumpling of several well-built Catholic institutions. 

“Over trusting because one is a priest, religious or long time Christian often leads to monopoly of ideas and resources by those in charge and at the end crumples the system”.

“The idea of stewardship as authority is not about individualistic ends that promote self-aggrandization, voracity, power hunger, theft and corruption.” 

In 2017 at the end of the bishops’ plenary meeting in Harare, Archbishop Alex Thomas gave delivered a homily that highlighted five principles that characterize Stewardship. 

The principles relate to Ownership, Responsibility, Accountability, Reward and Common good. 

On ownership the Archbishop stressed the fact that God the creator of everything owns everything therefore Stewardship requires total dependency on God.

Addressing the issue of power and authority, the Bishops said the Church cherishes good leaders who work for justice and mercy in order to offer citizens good life experiences. 

“As good stewards, it is pertinent that we exercise our authority to protect those who look up to us and the property at our disposal in a way that propagates life giving experiences.”

The Church cherishes good stewards who advance the cause of charity, justice, mercy and trust; those whose authority is that of service and not dictatorship or power.”

In Elections, Peace and Development pastoral letter, the bishops exhorted the laity to be engaged in civic processes and elect good public service leaders. 

“Let us be engaged in bringing this about! Let us choose public servants who show by their actions, rather than just their words, that they are really working for the benefit of all And let us pray for our present and future leaders that they may find the courage and wisdom to put the people’s interests above their own”.

The letter on Stewardship concludes on the note that Christ the Lord did not in the least wish to destroy the very heritage of the law but he brought it to completion in a new and higher way- thus Governance and Stewardship in the church.



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