Message of the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar. “I strive to have a clear conscience before God and men” (Acts 24,16)

Dear brothers and sisters,

Peace be with you!

01.It is in the joy and hope of the Risen Christ that we, the Bishops of Madagascar, send you our greetings through this message. We wish you what the two disciples of Emmaus experienced: that Christ be always present in our midst as we face multiple crises. May our encounter with Him and our listening to His Word be a source of joy for each family.

Looking especially at the life of the Church, we thank God for the arrival of Monsignor Tomasz Gryza as the Pope's representative in our country. The episcopal ordination of Monsignor Donatien Francis Randriamalala, bishop of Ambanja, and the enthronement of Monsignor Zygmunt Robaskiewicz as bishop of Mahajanga, also marked this year. The National Children's Days that will be held in July 2023 in Antananarivo will be part of our prayer intentions, with our fidelity to the organizations and instructions of the leaders. The Jubilee of Hope, on the other hand, is already on the horizon of our faith. All this is grace for grace.

Poverty transforms our "culture

02. From a simple look at the national life, we can say that we cannot neglect the efforts and achievements that the current regime has made, not to mention the beautiful infrastructures (schools, hospitals, tarring of some national roads, paving etc.), the recruitment of FRAM masters as civil servants, the "himo: high intensity of labor" works that allow families to earn a certain amount of money and community works, the authorization of non-governmental organizations and associations that are committed to development, the security in some regions.

03. On the other hand, it is necessary to recognize the presence of deep poverty that raises many complaints in all levels. Our poverty manifests itself in almost all its different forms, economic [1] as well as social, moral [2], ecological [3]... The culture, bearer of vision and life style as well as style of relationship, is gradually deteriorating. The conscience itself is no longer listened to and it happens that murders, violence, popular vindictiveness, corruption, newborns thrown away by their own mothers, the theft of the eyes of the "alibinos", the theft of the bones, the exploitation and trafficking of the national resources, drugs, the rise of delinquency etc... are admitted. All of this is gradually and unfortunately becoming a "culture of death": corruption and indifference [4], to the point of indifference to the law and that between the leaders and the people or between the people themselves. The leaders and officials who are supposed to set an example are the first to change their culture and the people only follow them. It is highly regrettable that Christians are the first to be affected. It is an "anthropological crisis", according to the vision of Pope Benedict XVI [5].

In addition, many promises are not kept, which leaves the population disappointed and adrift. The price of basic necessities is increasing exponentially; farmers and stockbreeders feel neglected in their problems; the teaching of children is becoming more and more expensive and education is progressively losing its quality; those who lose their jobs; the unemployed are growing in number; the roads throughout Madagascar are deteriorating more and more; the problem of electricity and water has no lasting solution; and the list is not exhaustive. The vocation to be salt of the earth (cf. Mt 5:13-14) and light of the world as well as to be witnesses (cf. Acts 1:8) is no longer evident.

04. Let us also note the degradation of the environment, but all, both the leaders and the people, seem to be indifferent. It is urgent to apply the law and to severely punish the devastators of the environment. Ecological awareness is the duty of all: leaders, people, families, educators, politicians, religious leaders, journalists, researchers, artists, with the structures, associations and various groups.

Voting is the key to our future


This year is a presidential election year. As a citizen and a Christian, participating in this election is a right and a duty. This right and duty begins with checking the voter registration list, voting in the ballot box and observing the results of the election. We are now in the pre-election campaign period. Public demonstrations and propaganda practices are anticipated. Some politicians and candidates even take advantage of social and religious movements to win the hearts of likely voters. Such actions can lead to conflict and division.

Let no one be tempted to abstain or to influence others to abstain because of the apparent failures of previous elections. The efforts made by each and everyone are never in vain, but contribute, on the contrary, to the love for the country. What should guide each and every one of us is our conscience, not the expression of the majority or an ephemeral interest. Conscience is sacred and precious, because it is through it that we hear the voice of God; we must watch over it jealously.

Let us always remember that no one can falsely claim to be a candidate of the Catholic Church. It is the respect of the laws and regulations by all that guarantees a transparent and successful election. The first to set this example are the leaders and election officials, as well as the candidates and their supporters. At the same time, compliance with laws and regulations by the people is of paramount importance to the successful conduct of elections. Let us pray about these steps and the commitments that each of us must make.

With regard to the choice of the candidate - while respecting the freedom of conscience of each person - we would like to recall the criteria that the candidate must have because "politics is a fundamental means to promote citizenship and human projects" [6]. Madagascar needs a just, wise and patriotic person, that is to say, someone who lives within the law, who scrupulously watches over the respect of the laws and who has no preference for anyone. We need a candidate who has his own personality, who should not be a prisoner of his party's politics, nor of the interests of his relatives and his region of origin. Many people expect this election to choose a candidate who knows how to listen and who is ready, with a clear project, to take up the many challenges to get the Malagasy people out of the deep poverty in which they currently live - without trying to attribute the responsibility for this situation to the previous leaders. It is necessary to have a candidate who is open and who opens the country to others. Pope Francis has stated: "Closed and aggressive nationalisms and radical individualism crumble or divide us, both in the world and in the Church" [7].

Pure heart, hope, commitment

06.The development of the nation does not lie in mutual reproaches nor in the attribution of responsibility to others. It is necessary to return to the conversion of the heart [8] and to live together [9]. It is from the heart of man that evil intentions come out, according to the teaching of Jesus (cf. Mk 7:16-23). Conversion is necessary, a pure heart is necessary for everyone to build a well-ordered society and development in solidarity. Christians, wherever they are, must be at the forefront of this mission.

During the Apostolic visit to Madagascar in 2019, Pope Francis was called "sower of hope and peace." This is how he lived his mission to us. This mission is, moreover, the mission of the whole Church. We are the Church that must accomplish this mission. Since the hope coming from the resurrection of Jesus our Lord is in our hearts, we must not give up, we must not just follow the wind of history. Christians are witnesses of this hope. Therefore, they will be the bearers of this hope in the midst of the Malagasy people who are oppressed by misery and who are losing confidence, there are even those who are disoriented in their way of living and thinking. The difficult situation that we are going through calls us, especially us Christians, to manifest by our faith, within our life, that we have received the grace and the exhortation of Jesus. We are going to testify that in spite of the difficulties of life, it is always possible to cling to faith, to do justice and to defend it, to respect the Fihavanana and to keep the commandments of God. It is the moment to show that only the conscience that teaches us the truth. This deep poverty calls us Christians more to active compassion, especially towards the little ones and the disinherited.

The poverty of our nation also calls us, as a Church, to continue and strengthen our efforts in the service of our fellow citizens. We will always seek the path of an integral and integral education for future generations, through the school and the apostolic movements. Concern for the poor, the sick, the illiterate, the handicapped and the excluded is the criterion for attesting that our practice of the faith is not outside the Gospel. We will continue and work even more on our outreach and integral development ministry. This promotion is centered on the education that the Church has always taken in hand. Special attention will be given to the phenomenon of drugs that is not determined by age or role. In order to progress in faith and human promotion, we will take as a priority the care of the earth "our common home" and its environment. We must not follow without discernment what others do because not everything they do is according to the norms; we will follow above all our conscience which is supposed to lead us and others to Jesus "way, truth and life" (Jn 14, 6). This is what makes us witnesses of hope.

For a synodal church


"Don't fight alone because you may fail" says our song. Moreover, our synod reiterates the journey together. We face, as a synodal Church, the daily realities that we share with the Malagasy people and all humanity. We will remember well and make a life style of the recitation that Pope Francis taught to the Malagasy: "no one can say: I don't need you". Our Church life is punctuated by faith, not by what is touted everywhere. It is through the teaching of Jesus Christ that we are called to spread the faith; we must be careful about spreading thoughts contrary to the faith. Those who wish to relate and collaborate with the Church must also be aware of this so that our common journey is in harmony. It is always possible to walk together.

In concluding our message, we would like to recall what Jesus said to Saint Faustina: "The world will not be at peace without surrendering to my mercy. We will call upon this divine mercy by living it every day. May the dead and risen Jesus be our comfort and revive the hope that is within us. May the prayers of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Madagascar, those of Saint Joseph, Protector of the Universal Church, and those of the Malagasy saints and blessings accompany us always.

In anticipation of the celebration of Pentecost, the privileged moment of the descent of the Holy Spirit to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles, we carry ourselves in prayer and we invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts, to enlighten our conscience so that we can convert ourselves and transform the face of our country.

We, the bishops of Madagascar, bless you.

Done in Antananarivo on May 18, 2023
Feast of the Ascension of the Lord.

S. Bishop Samuélin Marie Fabien Raharilamboniaina, Bishop of Morondava, President of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar;
S. Archbishop Filgence Rabemahafaly, Archbishop of Fianarantsoa, Vice-President;
S. Gabriel Randrianantenaina, Bishop of Tsiroanomandidy, Secretary General;
His Eminence Cardinal Désiré Tsarahazana, Archbishop of Toamasina;
S. Benjamin Marc Ramaroson, Archbishop of Antsiranana;
S. Archbishop Odon Marie Arsène Razanakolona, Archbishop of Antananarivo;
S. Archbishop Fulgence Rabeony, Archbishop of Toliary;
S. Francis Donatien Randriamalala, Bishop of Ambanja;
S. Bishop Georges Varkey Pithiyakulangara, Bishop of Port-Bergé;
S. Bishop Zygmunt Robaszkiewicz, Bishop of Mahajanga;
S. Bishop Marcellin Randriamamonjy, Bishop of Fénérive-Est;
S. Bishop Jean de Dieu Raoelison, Bishop of Ambatondrazaka;
S. Bishop Saro Rosario Vella, Bishop of Moramanga;
S. Bishop Gustavo Bombin Espino, Bishop of Maintirano;
S. Bishop Jean Claude Randrianarisoa, Bishop of Miarinarivo;
S. Bishop Fidelis Rakotonarivo, Bishop of Ambositra;
S. Bishop José Alfredo Caires De Nobrega, Bishop of Mananjary;
S. Bishop Fulgence Razakarivony, Bishop of Ihosy;
S. Gaetano Di Pierro, Bishop of Farafangana;
S. Bishop Vincent Rakotozafy, Bishop of Tolagnaro;
S. Bishop Jean Pascal Andrantsoavina, Auxiliary Bishop of Antananarivo;
Rev. Jeannot Martial Andrianandrainy, Diocesan Administrator of Antsirabe;
Rev. Raoul Sendratsara, Diocesan Administrator of Morombe;
S. Raymond Razakarivony, Bishop Emeritus of Miarinarivo;
S. Bishop Michel Malo, Bishop Emeritus of Antsiranana;
S. Bishop Armand Toasy, Bishop Emeritus of Port-Bergé;
S. Bishop Antonio Scopelliti, Bishop Emeritus of Ambatondrazaka.

1 - Cf.

2 - Vindicte populaire, avortement, violence, viol, vol sans scrupule...
A titre d’exemple on peut visiter la statistique offerte par OpenStat qui relate la situation de “Vindictes populaires à Madagascar (Donnée sur les victimes de justice populaire à Madagascar)” in Madagascar initiative for Digital innovation

3 - Pope Francis mentioned this degradation extensively in his speech to political and civil authorities in Madagascar on September 19, 2019.
Cf. "La dégradation de l'environnement à Madagascar : problèmes et perspectives des solutions", in Revue des sciences, de Technologie et de l'Environnement (RSTE) Volume 3, Edition : Spéciale Université d'ETÉ, Version Online, updated 06-02.2021

4 - Cf. Message of Pope Francis for the celebration of the XLIX World Day of Peace, Win over indifference and win peace, 1 January 2016, n°4

5 - cf. Africae munus, n° 11

6 - Pope Francis, Message for the 52nd World Day of Peace, 1 January 2019

7 - Pope Francis, Message for the day of migrants and refugees, 2021

8 - Cf. Pope Francis, Angelus January 19, 2022, "Trust in the word that changes the world and hearts".

9 - Cf. Pope Francis, Message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2014, "Fraternity, foundation and road to peace"

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