In his pastoral letter to the People of God in the Diocese of Manzini, eSwatini, Bishop Jośe Luis Ponce de León said it is unfortunate that, “In eSwatini it is becoming more and more that our choice is death”. This he said in reference to his quoting of the Book of Deuteronomy saying, “choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live”.
The bishop letter follows the killing of another two members of police in broad daylight on Tuesday, 18 October 2022. The two officers were manning a roadblock behind the Grand Valley Complex in Manzini.
The Bishop of Manzini said killings seem to have become part of ordinary lives which can also be seen through other of violence like, “arson attacks, destruction of property, instilling of fear, lack of spaces to voice just cries, tear gas, calls to meet violence with more violence even through the use of biblical passages as if God could support choosing death over life.”
To Bishop Ponce de Leon it is clear that people no longer see in each other the God in whose image they have been created and with Cain people sarcastically ask if they are their brother’s keeper. “We have taken God’s place as creator deciding on the lives of others,” said the Bishop of Manzini, pointing out that people have rejected God as Father as they no longer see each other as brothers and sisters.
The Bishop also mentioned the anger that is felt my many people, particularly the youth, as they see no answers to their frustration and no spaces to voice them, “They feel that some are full citizens but others second class ones”. The Bishop warned that in a situation like this people in their restlessness can be easily deceived by those who offer them violence as the only possible solution.
Bishop Ponce de Leon expressed his gratitude to the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace for opening spaces for dialogue in local communities and for launching “Peace Clubs” in some of the Catholic High Schools helping young people to be formed in non-violence. According to the Bishop the word “dialogue” was initially “postponed” and now seems to have disappeared from their vocabulary, “I still believe that dialogue is the only possible answer.”
Read a full letter below