A Catholic Bishop gets all my respect
My wife & I were both born in Zimababwe. My parents still live there.
It is a country that has descended, with ever-increasing speed into chaos and madness. The thug in charge is Robert Mugabe, who has been in power now for 28 years. He recently celbrated his 83rd birthday in a year where his fellow countymen can hope for an average life expectancy of 35.
Mugabe does not tolerate opposition. His political rivals have had car accidents, drowned in swimming pools, disappeared, been jailed, tortured, beaten.
A long-time critic of his is the Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pious Ncube. Most other churches and church leaders have either turned a blind eye to Mugabe's antics or sucked up to him.
The Pastor of my church, Noel Pashapa is now a vocal supporter of Mugabe, and turns out at his rallies.
Ncube, on the other hand has said:
I'm very angry with African leaders for letting their people down. They have cared too much for themselves and too little for their people. Their record, since the end of colonial rule, is enough to make you weep.
He will carry on protesting, he said, even if doing so risked making himself a martyr. "The Church has a prophetic role to speak the truth when no one else dares to. I accept that it may mean that I lose my life."
His faith has been put to the test, but it is the frailty of humans and their failure to use their brains which is to blame, he said.
"We can't blame God if we don't use them and stand up to our leaders," he said.
I was prompted to blog this, because the article appeared in yesterday's telegraph, but also because the Sacred Slut blogged about church activism on her blog A Whore in the Temple of Reason
I know exactly how she feels. I think it would be scandalous if churches could get away with defying the state and the authorities, but you only have to read the accounts of Pious Ncube in Zimabwe to see that there are countries and situations where if the church wasn't making a stand, no-one would be.
Of course I use the phrase "the church" in the widest possible sense. I have already mentioned that in Zimabwe the church is divided, with some denominations supporting Mugabe.
Update: The transcript of an interview SW Radio Africa's Violet Gonda talks with Archbishop Pius Ncube, Pastor Ray Motsi and Bishop Trevor Manhanga for the HOT SEAT programme.
The Bishops are asked if this coming together of catholic bishops is in any way official or sanctioned by the Pope. Could the church ex-communicate Mugabe, and what would be the reaction to that? Notice Ncube's veiled criticsm of his counterpart the Archbishop of Harare, Mugabe's diocese.