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Should Catholic priests be allowed to marry?

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Last week’s reports of the sex scandal that rocked the local Catholic diocese, culminating in the resignation of Bishop Valentine Seane, have prompted a debate around the utility of Catholic priests’ celibacy. Many people who followed details of the scandal on social media felt it was high time Catholic priests were allowed to marry. For decades this is the question that has been coming more often to the Catholic authority.

However, even with the sex scandals that happen all over the world, the Church maintains this is not an easy decision to make. The fact that one becomes a priest by choice knowing that they are not allowed to marry settles the argument. It is believed that these ordinances have kept the church, priests, and parishioners very strong for thousands of years. Meanwhile, there are mixed feelings about the issue.

Some members of the church, as well as outsiders, believe that priests need to experience and understand fully the challenges that families go through if they are to support them through life’s difficulties. However, many Catholic priests struggle with celibacy, which affects their ministry and spiritual growth. In February 2013, Pope Benedict shocked the Catholic Church members when he resigned from his position as Holy See.

The resignation was unexpected and the first thing to happen in the Catholic Church. Reports reveal that Pope’s resignation was prompted by the tough decisions he had to make as the leader of the church which included confirmation that there was a so-called “gay lobby” among senior Vatican clerics. As described by Benedict, this was more accurately a clique of up to five men who had their sexuality in common but worked together for their own ends rather than pushing the cause of gay believers.

Benedict managed to remove the group from power. But he often lacked decisiveness. Benedict has made only a handful of public appearances since he retired in 2013 saying he no longer has the strength of mind or body to carry on. A local Catholic priest explains that just like Pope Benedict did after resignation, going out to pray and listen to the Lord, Seane also is going through that moment of praying and listening to the Lord. On Sunday at Christ the King Cathedral in Gaborone, the newly appointed apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Gaborone His Lordship Frank Nubuasah S.V.D. explained to the church that Seane is still a Bishop and he is now Bishop Emeritus.

He called on all members to pray for the church. “This is the time for us to seriously pray, it is our responsibility to pray for Bishop Seane,” said Nabuasah. After Seane’s resignation as the Bishop of the Diocese of Gaborone, which shocked members of the church, he was accused of having been involved in a sex scandal which resulted in the rape and abuse of the Sisters of Calvary, forcing some of them to commit abortion.

However, some members of the church have refused to buy into the sex-related accusations because for a long time, they have known Seane to live under pressure from an alleged plot to kill him, which they believe led to his decision to quit. The story within the church is that Seane was allegedly threatened by some priest who has for some time been eyeing his position.

The said priest is said to have connived with some rich people who are after the church land and view him as an obstacle towards acquiring it. Seane’s resignation came as a shock to the church members as it was the first time a Catholic Bishop in Botswana resigned.

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BATTLE FOR MMADIKOLO

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University of Botswana students are bracing themselves for the Student Representative Council (SRC) elections. Contenders are fighting tooth and nail to appease the electorate. Three camps are in contention to fill the 13 council positions.

Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) Moono-wa-Baithuti has the onerous task of defending all the 13 seats which they hauled at the last elections of 2018. “As Moono wa Baithuti, we have lots of achievements. We are on the verge of getting the student bar open, so we need to go back and fix what we started,” said UDC’s Tumelo Legase who is vying for the position of Vice President.

He said they have advocated for student empowerment policies and are also proposing a third arm of student representation. “We have the SRC and the Judiciary, what we need is the student Parliament so that we have a large number of leaders who can independently attend to problems across the university.” The dark horse in this race is the University of Botswana’s Alliance for Progressive (AP) which will take another leap of faith despite their loss in the previous election.

They are rejuvenated and redefined. Candidate for Vice President Karabo Bokwe said central to their mandate is making the welfare of the student community a priority. “We want to help eradicate school policies that border on oppression, and through new polices call for initiatives that come with enterprenuership benefits to students.”

AP candidate for Information and Publicity, a first year Criminal Justice student Gracious Selelo said they are more united than other parties even at national level. “We don’t have internal squabbles within our party, we are more focused and can deliver our mandate easily,” she noted.

However the ruling party’s BDP GS-26 will come with all guns blazing after an embarrassing defeat in the previous elections. Preparations have been made and the GS-26 is looking to take the elections by storm.

According to their Presidential Candidate Boniface Seane, they come with the message of hope that addresses the current status quo at the University.“The university is not functioning so we drew three policies that embrace inclusiveness. We want to lead collectively with the students, through the student body meetings which the previous SRCs have failed to do. “We will consult with the students with no discrimination.”

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Healthcare system to improve

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The Health ministry has developed a seven-point programme to guide the country in improving the healthcare system, says Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Rabashemi Madigele.

“The seven priority areas will serve as a roadmap and a guardian angel towards improving the overall healthcare system and increasing access to health care while fighting the burden of disease that confronts us,” said Madigele at Masa Square Hotel on Tuesday.

The focal areas include decentralisation; Universal Health Coverage, Tertiary Care, Strategic leveraging on the Private sector; Supply Chain; Research as well as Staff welfare and accountability.
Point-one of the seven priority areas according to Dr Madigele is about empowering the District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) and transforming them into fully fledged Regional Health Authorities.

“In this case, they will be rationalised from 27 to 18 and have the authority to hire A and B Scales, promote up to C1 and manage micro procurement,” he said. Point two is about improving the quality of healthcare services. “The main causes of mortality and their risk factors in Botswana are Primary Health Care issues,” Dr Madigele said.

He added that “Our efforts for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage should thus focus on: Prevention; Comprehensive screening; Early treatment; and Surveillance at the community.”
This he said, would require revamped grassroots efforts in which adequate numbers of community health workers through partnerships with the non-governmental sector will be deployed as necessary.

According to Dr Madigele, the top five causes of death in Botswana in 2017 were HIV/AIDS, Ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and Diabetes. He said compared to 2007, NCDs among these had increased in burden by an average of 34%. The top five risk factors related to these causes of mortality were unsafe sex; poor diet; high blood pressure; alcohol abuse and tobacco use.

Improving the quality of care, Madigele said will also include the safety and security of patients; attitudes of staff as experienced by patients; time taken in queues either before seeing a health worker or receiving medication and the availability of drugs.

Meanwhile, the health minister revealed that the commissioning of Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) is ongoing with the facility scheduled for opening on April 24th. “This will be a phased approach commencing with some services including paediatric oncology, internal medicine, rheumatology and endocrinology, diagnostic radiology, laboratory services and pharmacy”.

A phased commissioning of SKMTH will reduce overdependence on South Africa for referrals, reduce costs and also institutionalise provision of super specialist services within Botswana.

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