Dar es Salaam. President John Magufuli yesterday reiterated the government’s commitment to cooperate with the various religious denominations in the country.
The Head of State said this during installation of Roman Catholic Archbishop Gervas Nyaisonga of the Mbeya Metropolitan Diocese held at the Sokoine Stadium in Mbeya City.
Speaking during the live televised event, Dr Magufuli said religions are significant partners in building a stable society and economy.
“Tanzania has no state religion, and our constitution provides freedom of worship. I, therefore, assure all Tanzanians that my government will continue to protect the freedoms provided under the national constitution,” the president categorically stated.
“I’m happy to see leaders from different religions attending this event. Despite our religious differences, Tanzania has remained united: a treasured legacy of the nation’s founding fathers: Julius Nyerere and Abeid Karume.”
Noting that religions are important institutions which create good citizens out of their followers, the president said that they also play a significant role in the country’s development.
“Tanzanians get education, healthcare and other services from religious institutions. They’re government’s development partners, and we reiterate our commitment to cooperate with all religions,” he stressed.
“Pray for Tanzanians to continue being good citizens... who avoid theft, embezzlement, corruption, robbery, killings, rape and all types of injustice and sins. I believe the country will be safer if churches and mosques unite in this,” he said.
Speaking at the event, the archbishop of Dar es Salaam, Polycarp Cardinal Pengo, called on Archbishop Nyaisonga and metropolitan leaders to recognize and respect the government’s roles.
“Strong cooperation with the government is required in order for the Holy Spirit to be appeased,” he said.
“We will only excel in our responsibilities if we recognize and respect the good things that are done by others,” he said.
For his part, the vice president of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC), Flavian Kassala, said the church recognizes and respects the sound relationships with the government in improving Tanzanians’ lives.
“Although there are many challenges in life, we shouldn’t worry about finding solutions to them – some of which could be resolved through dialogue. It’s also important that the laws and procedures are closely followed in seeking to bring about sustainable development,” he said.
Bishop Nyaisonga becomes the first archbishop of the new Metropolitan archbishopric constituting the three dioceses of Iringa, Sumbawanga and Mbeya, to which he was appointed by Pope Francis on Dec 21 last year.