Bishops of the Province of Central Africa “have issued a message to Zimbabweans that was broadly supportive of the government, sharply contrasting with an earlier call from Catholic leaders for President Robert Mugabe to step down” the AP reports. Signatories of the pastoral letter dated April 12 include The Most Rev. Bernard Amos Malango, Primate of the Province of Central Africa, and The Right Rev. Nolbert Kunonga, Bishop of Harare.
Human rights groups have consistently criticized Mugabe and his enablers.
Zimbabwe’s nine Catholic bishops marked Easter with an unprecedented call on Mugabe to end oppression and leave office through democratic reform or face a mass revolt.
Their pastoral letter accused the ruling elite of racism and corruption and fomenting lawlessness and violence to cling to power and wealth, factors they said led to the economic meltdown. The letter decried state-orchestrated intimidation, beatings and torture. Predicting further bloodshed, it said the country had reached a flash point.
The Anglican church has been traditionally muted in its criticism of the government, with its leaders generally toeing the ruling party line.
In contrast to their Catholic counterparts, the Anglican bishops see the economic meltdown in the same terms as Mugabe does – a Western conspiracy.
allAfrica.com has a more extensive report from the pro-government Herald, including this:
The Anglican Bishop’s pastoral letter left egg on the face of the head of the church, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Willams who, last month, tried to pressure his bishops, among them Dr Kunonga, to join the bandwagon of condemning the Government for alleged human rights excesses.
Dr Williams went to the extent of holding a one-on-one meeting with Bishop Kunonga on the sidelines of the Anglican Conference on Tackling Poverty held in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he urged him to drop his “soft stance” towards the Government.