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JPM Assures Worship Freedom

PRESIDENT John Magufuli yesterday reiterated the government’s determination to ensure that the freedom of worship and religion is protected as guaranteed by the country’s constitution. “Ours is a secular state but the constitution provides for freedom of worship and religion, the government will ensure that freedom is guaranteed,’’ said President Magufuli. Speaking at a special mass to install the new Mbeya Archbishop Gervas Nyaisonga, Dr. Magufuli advocated the country’s peace and harmony for the government to realize its development agenda. He requested all clerics in the country, regardless of their religious differences to unite and pray for the country’s peace, which he described as inevitable for the government to continue serving all citizens, especially the poor. The prayers to install Archbishop Nyaisonga were conducted at Sokoine grounds in Mbeya region where Dr. Magufuli is for his working tour of different districts. Last December, Pope Francis promoted the Catholic Diocese of Mbeya to the Archdiocese and appointed the then Bishop Gervas Nyaisonga the first Archbishop of the Archdiocese. Mbeya Archdiocese includes Sumbawanga, Iringa Diocese, and Mbeya dioceses. The archbishop, who is also the current President of Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC), was the Bishop of Mpanda Diocese prior to his appointment. According to the 2018 statistics of the Catholic Church in Tanzania, the Mbeya Archdiocese has 48 parishes, 73 priests, 15 religious priests, 15 religious men, and 299 religious women. In his remarks to welcome the President, TEC Vice President Bishop Flavian Kasala said the launch of the new Mbeya Archdiocese was yet another blessing from God, arguing that it will simplify religious activities in the Southern Highlands. According to Bishop Kasala, the new Mbeya Archdiocese brings to seven the total number of archdioceses in Tanzania. Others are Tabora, Dar es Salaam, Songea, Mwanza, Arusha, and Dodoma. For the country to attain its development agenda, he said the government needs to invite dialogue with development partners in the course of discharging duties of serving Tanzanians. He also called for the need to observe and respect the country’s laws by all people, if development was anything to go by. Moving his votes of thanks, Archbishop Nyaisonga thanked God for blessing him, hinting that it has always been his desire to serve God and his people, and he perceives his new roles as the outcome of that craving.

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