Zimbabwe bishops on "dangerous path", Mugabe warns

Reacting belatedly to an Easter letter by Zimbabwe's Catholic bishops, President Robert Mugabe has warned that the bishops have chosen a "dangerous path" but Archbishop Pius Ncube says that it is time for Mugabe and his "corrupt" regime to go.

The BBC reports that in an interview Sunday, Archbishop Ncube urged Zimbabweans not to be intimidated by President Mugabe.

The archbishop says the situation in Zimbabwe is getting steadily worse but even though people's morale has been broken they should not be intimidated.

"As far as I'm concerned he [President Mugabe] must go," he said.

"You can't negotiate with him. It's useless. African presidents have tried to negotiate with that man to no avail."

The archbishop also said opposition politicians in Zimbabwe needed to do more to prove themselves despite having been jailed and tortured.

In Sydney last week, Archbishop Ncube, who is the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, described the humanitarian situation in his country as "disastrous" saying, "while the people of Zimbabwe are starving, Mugabe and his ministers are busy corruptly trading and getting themselves rich," according to a media release by the UNSW.

Earlier, President Mugabe had told Roman Catholic bishops who issued an Easter letter blaming him for his country's political and economic turmoil they had chosen "a dangerous path," and church officials said Friday a priest had been briefly detained for passing the pastoral message on to his congregation, the International Herald Tribune says.

Mugabe, in extracts of an interview published in a state newspaper on Friday, declared the pastoral letter "political nonsense" and said the government would treat the country's nine bishops, all signatories to the letter, as what he called "political entities" and "deal with them accordingly."

With their pastoral letter, "the bishops have decided to turn political. And once they turn political, we regard them as no longer being spiritual," Mugabe told the British-based New African magazine, the Herald, a government mouthpiece reported.

"Our relations with them would be conducted as political entities, and this is quite a dangerous path they have chosen for themselves," Mugabe was quoted as saying.

"If I had gone to a church and a priest had read that so-called pastoral letter I would have stood up and said, 'Nonsense,'" Mugabe said.

The arrested priest and a member of his congregation were released without charge after spending 24 hours in jail last month, said Fr Oskar Wermter of the Catholic social communications secretariat in Harare.

It was the first reported arrest of a priest on political grounds in recent years. The priest had evidently given prominence to the letter in services in northern Harare.

Wermter said Mugabe's response to the pastoral letter was to be expected.

"What is surprising is that he kept silent for so long. People have reacted to the letter very positively and maybe that is riling him," Wermter said.

Cleric calls for Mugabe to resign (BBC News, 6/5/07)
Zimbabwean Archbishop Attacks Mugabe Regime During Australian Visit (Allheadlinenews, 5/5/07)
A Cry for Prayer from Zimbabwe (Catholic News, 4/5/07)
After priest is arrested, Mugabe warns Catholic bishops over critical pastoral letter (International Herald Tribune, 4/5/07)
Mugabe warns Catholic bishops over politics (Swissinfo, 5/5/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Robert Mugabe (Wikipedia)
Pius Ncube (Wikipedia)

Zimbabwe bishops end "criminal silence" on Mugabe (CathNews, 11/4/07)
Zimbabwe dialogue still possible, African bishops say (CathNews, 4/4/07)
"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)

7 May 2007

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