‘Respect for each person is the basis for true democracy’-Roman Catholic Bishop Denis Wiehe’s message for the New Year 2013


“As the New Year opens it is customary to look forward to what we would wish to accomplish during the coming year. And so, at the beginning of this year, I would like to express some of my wishes for our society and for our Church.

“My first wish for our society is that we may learn more and more to live in harmony and in peace together.

 In the Catholic Church, January 1 is the day dedicated to prayer for peace in the world. This is a well chosen day for this purpose because it comes a short time after Christmas and echoes the message of peace that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, brings to the world.

 To be precise, my wish is that we start by taking the first step in this quest for better living together.
 Just the first step: and this is, to respect each other.

“Respect for each person is the basis for true democracy, because the human person enshrines an absolute dignity which is worthy of our respect.

 From this fundamental dignity of each human person comes the human rights of which we speak so much about nowadays.

“Concerning the above, the question which I often ask myself is the following: Is there any way in which people of goodwill who wish our society to progress can come together, beyond and outside the partisan divide which imprisons us, to work freely and generously for the betterment of our society? Something to reflect on during the year…

“Respect for each person is also the first step and therefore the basis for true belief in God and for true religion because Jesus upgraded the second commandment to the same level as the first.

 Jesus said: ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Matthew 22, 37-38).

“During his whole life Jesus himself lived out these two demands by his constant inner intimacy with His Father and by his care and attention for all whom he met, irrespective of their origin, their personal belief or their situation in life.

 His teaching as brought to us in the gospels further explained and reinforced his way of life: he invited his followers to respect and love even our opponents and our enemies.
“Of course LOVE, true love, goes well beyond RESPECT. However, respect of the other, is the first step towards love. And indeed, true love often finds its choice expression in respect for the person loved.

“We see this in all the aspects of our life but especially so in the Family. My wish for the coming year is that we continue the tremendous effort of previous years to enhance family life by highlighting respect for all in the family: between spouses, between parents and children, between children; greater respect towards older members of the family, etc.

“Another wish for the coming year concerns the implementation of the ‘Renesans Sosyal’ programme. The church is willing to play its part in this national effort, for example in the family, as stated above, and in other ways.

 The priests gathered for their monthly meeting last December had the occasion to convey this message to the Minister who honoured us with his presence.

“One of the aspects of this programme where the church’s presence is essential concerns Religious Education (RE) or, as we commonly say Catéchisme or ‘Katesis’. During 2012, I had the occasion to visit all the schools in the country, spending about two hours in each of them. The purpose of my visit was to meet the head teachers, the management and the RE teachers.

 I would like to thank the Ministry of Education and the individual schools for their support and for all that has been achieved in this area during the past years.

“Many people in the country have expressed their desire that more attention be given to RE in the schools.

 This implies that greater resources (finance and personnel) be attributed to RE on a par with other subjects. My wish for 2013 is that the collaboration between the church and the Ministry of Education and the individual schools on this question be further deployed.
“During 2012, the Seychelles Inter-Faith Council or SIFCO was officially established as an NGO. To my mind it is essential that such a platform exists in our country: its ideal and purpose is to dispel prejudice and enhance respect between believers of different religions and churches; it provides a forum for sharing and getting to know each other; it enables believers of different faiths and churches to position themselves in a more efficient and coherent way to face some of the social scourges of our society, etc.

“I wish to thank my sisters and brothers of other religions and churches for their collaboration and for their fraternal friendship during the past years.

My wish for 2013 is that SIFCO continues its steady progress and that other members from other faiths and denominations join the ten actual members of SIFCO. I strongly encourage Catholics who understand the importance of this effort of better understanding to join individually the association.

“One of the objectives during the coming year is to continue and reinforce the church’s action in favour of residents of other nationalities living in Seychelles.

 The two masses which are celebrated each Sunday at the Good Shepherd parish, Mont Fleuri, and Ste Theresa’s parish, Plaisance, cater for English-speaking faithful.

 Pastoral care of these faithful is also provided and an association has been created. This is very encouraging as is also the renewal of the ministry for our sisters and brothers from Madagascar which is starting afresh as from the beginning of this year. This ministry towards migrants has the full support of the Diocese of Port-Victoria.

“Many other areas of action and concern are on the agenda for this year, they cannot all be mentioned here.

 I have simply stated some of them. I encourage all members of the church to participate fully in the different activities that are planned for ‘The Year of Faith’ (October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013) decreed by Pope Benedict XVI. In his letter to introduce this year the Pope encourages us to renew our faith so that we ‘intensify the witness of charity’ (No.14).

 As stated above, true religion and true belief in God broadens our way of looking at others and of living in society.

It encourages us to respect others, to see in each person someone who is worthy of our respect because of her/his absolute dignity and because she/he is loved by the One from whom all things come and yet who is close to us for ‘In him we live and move and exist, for we are his children.’ (Acts 17, 28).

“A Happy and Blessed New Year to one and all!”


Denis Wiehe Bishop of Port-Victoria

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