The deep crisis afflicting Zimbabwe can be turned into a moment of grace and of a new beginning, if the government repents, heeds the cry of the people and fosters a change of heart and mind, the bishops say in an Easter message, according to an Independent Catholic News report.
Inflation in Zimbabwe has now surpassed 1,600 per cent, the highest in the world, and eight in every ten Zimbabweans have no meaningful source of income.
"The people of Zimbabwe are suffering. More and more people are getting angry, even from among those who had seemed to be doing reasonably well under the circumstances," the bishops say.
But not everyone is mourning, as "a tiny minority of the people have become very rich overnight, while the majority are languishing in poverty."
The problem with Zimbabwe, say the bishops, is "a crisis of governance and a crisis of leadership apart from being a spiritual and moral crisis."
For the last 27 years, national wealth and power have been in the hands of a corrupt clique, headed by President Mugabe, they said.
The conflict is "between those who are determined to maintain their privileges of power and wealth at any cost, even at the cost of bloodshed, and those who demand their democratic rights and a share in the fruits of independence ... and those who go to bed hungry at night and wake up in the morning to another day without work and without income."
The bishops say the seizure and redistribution of white-owned farms over recent years, the centrepiece of what Mr Mugabe portrays as his campaign to liberate Zimbabwe from the vestiges of colonialism, has enriched the elite but done little to help the poor rule, the Guardian adds.
They conclude that the white settlers who once exploited what was Rhodesia have been supplanted by a black elite that is just as abusive.
The bishops back calls for a new "people-driven Constitution that will guide a democratic leadership chosen in free and fair elections that will offer a chance for economic recovery under genuinely new policies."
Zimbabwe: bishops ask government to 'repent, heed people's cry' (Independent Catholic News, 2/4/07)
Corrupt, greedy and violent: Mugabe attacked by Catholic bishops after years of silence (Guardian, 2/4/07)
Bishops desert Mugabe (The Age, 3/4/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pius Ncube (Wikipedia)
"Ready to face bullets", Zimbabwean archbishop says (CathNews, 23/3/07)
Zimbabwe Church accuses S Africa over failure to act (CathNews, 21/3/07)
Zimbabwe prayer meeting crushed (CathNews, 13/3/07)
Millions facing starvation in Zimbabwe , Archbishop warns (CathNews, 28/11/06)
Archbishop's report exposes Zimbabwean homelessness debacle (CathNews, 1/9/06)
Zimbabwe's anti-terrorism bill threatens freedom, says Justice and Peace director (CathNews, 28/7/06)
Bishops denounce Zimbabwe "clean-up" (CathNews, 20/6/05)
3 Apr 2007