ZAMBIA Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) secretary general Fr Francis Mukosa says no one should be forced to attend the national day of prayer scheduled for next week.

In an interview, Tuesday, Fr Mukosa said prayer was a matter of faith.

“I still believe that when you are talking about prayer, you are talking about a matter of faith and as far as I know, matters of faith are not matters of force. It is a matter of faith, it’s a matter of personal choice. So who wants to go let them go, and who doesn’t want to go let them be. Where is the problem? You can encourage everyone but don’t force anyone. When we are talking about prayer, we are in a field of faith. We are talking about an element that is constitutive to the relationship between man and God. That is what prayer is all about. Therefore as a matter of faith, I strongly believe that no one should be forced or no one must be forced for the simple reason itself that even Jesus Christ was not forcing anyone,” he said.

“When we talk of prayer in Church, be it the national day of prayer or wherever, we don’t force people. Even in our churches we don’t force people to come but they come because they are convinced of what is done there. Who is not convinced of what is done in Church stays at home. So even for the national day of prayer, since we are talking about prayer, nobody should be forced to attend, if they don’t believe or see the sense in it let them be.”

And Fr Mukosa advised Church leaders against publicly aligning themselves to political parties in order to carry out their duties properly.

“I cannot judge anyone because I don’t know for what reason someone decided to align themselves to a particular team or particular ideology. But I think as Christians and as the Church, as Christ was saying ‘we are in the world but not for the world’. Yes we can talk about politics, talking about them is one thing and being part of it is another. So as the Church, yes we have the right to talk about political issues, economic issues, social issues but I cannot as a leader in my Church for example publicly align myself to a political party. Why? Not because that political party is bad, no! Not from the perspective,” said Fr Mukosa.

“Because in my Church I have people who are at liberty to join any political party of their choice. Therefore as their leader, I shouldn’t suggest that to them [that] because I have aligned myself to a particular political party, therefore, they should follow the example of the leader. That is the only reason, not that the political party is bad. I have people in my Church. I have people who are at liberty to join any political party of their choice therefore for prudence’s sake, I would remain neutral so that I guide my people properly and I do my work as a pastor properly.”

Meanwhile, PF member of the central committee Antonio Mwanza said the party was yet to give its position on whether they will attend the prayers or not.

“So what I will do is that I will request the central committee to put its position on this one. I will be able to revert to you shortly. So I will raise this matter so that the central committee will decide whether we are going to attend or not. So I will get back to you with the reasons why we are going to attend and why if we are not going to attend,” said Mwanza.