Angola’s Catholic Bishops have accused the Angolan government of lacking the political will needed to allow Catholic-owned Radio Ecclésia’s expansion plans. The Church has for the past fourteen years been requesting permission to extend the radio' signal nation-wide.
Archbishop Filomeno do Nascimento Vieira Dias of the Archdiocese of Luanda and President of the Episcopal Conference of Angola and São Tomé (CEAST) made the remarks at a press conference held to coincide with the end of CEAST’s first plenary assembly for the year 2017.
The Bishops’ meeting that ended last week took place in the Diocese of Benguela.
Answering a question from the media, Archbishop Filomeno do Nascimento Vieira Dias told the media that the Angolan government lacked the political will needed to allow the extension of Radio Ecclésia’s signal to the whole country.
The Angolan prelate told journalists that the matter of Radio Ecclésia was one of the issues recently discussed between the Bishops and the government when they met with Angola’s President, José Eduardo dos Santos.
The Archbishop also observed that while continuing to advance promises and excuses to the Catholic Church, the Angolan government was busy approving the emergence of new radios stations in the country.
Radio Ecclésia and its wish to extend its signal nationwide is not new.
In 2014, then Apostolic Nuncio to Angola, Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa, also spoke about his sadness concerning the confinement of Radio Ecclésia to the capital city of Luanda by the authorities.
The Apostolic Nuncio expressed the view that, “The people (of Angola) have a great need to benefit from the Radio’s socio-development and spiritual broadcasts.”
Founded in 1954, Radio Ecclésia was nationalised and taken over by the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) government in 1978. MPLA had just claimed victory from the Portuguese to form the first independence government of Angola in 1975.
It took almost twenty years of negotiations for Radio Ecclésia to be returned to the control of the Catholic Church, in 1997.
Radio Ecclésia’s history of differences with the government is well-known and seems to be the main stumbling block to a nationwide radio licence. Government officials find it hard to stomach the radio’s outspokenness on governance and political issues affecting the country.
Just before the visit of Pope Benedict XVI’s to Angola in 2009, the Bishops again appealed to the Republican President, José Eduardo Dos Santos, to allow the radio station broadcast its programmes country-wide. The request was not granted.
Radio Ecclésia broadcasts on 97.5 FM frequency to Luanda for 24 hours a day and only for one hour a day throughout Angola, on short wave.
(Fr. Paul Samasumo, Vatican Radio)