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Mugabe says Catholic bishops are on ‘dangerous path’


Zimbabwe President President Robert Mugabe has warned Roman Catholic bishops who published a pastoral letter criticising his government over the country’s mounting economic and economic crises, saying that they have chosen "a dangerous path".

Mugabe said the bishops had become political. He described the letter written by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference and read to congregations across the country on Palm Sunday (1 April) as "political nonsense".

"Once they turn political we regard them as no longer being spiritual and our relations with them would be conducted as if we are dealing with political entities and this is quite a dangerous path they have chosen for themselves," Mugabe is quoted as saying in an interview in the latest issue of the London-based monthly New African magazine. The article was also published in the government-run Herald newspaper on 4 May.

Mugabe said he would meet with the bishops over the letter, but launched a fresh attack on outspoken Archbishop Pius Ncube, a longtime critic of his from the country’s second city of Bulawayo.

"He thinks he is God, that’s why he says he is praying for me to die," Mugabe said. "But unfortunately God has not listened to him for all this duration."

Archbishop Ncube said on 24 April: "We cannot be sweet any more with these people who have oppressed us." He noted: "Churches must have some kind of contract with civil bodies to have a common front and to have common actions with trade unions and so forth through non-violent actions. There must be a contract to bring the government down if they are refusing to negotiate."

Zimbabwe is reeling under economic and political crisis with annual inflation at 2200, percent widespread poverty, and tensions between the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front party and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Mugabe, who was himself brought up a Catholic, said: "If I had gone to church and the priest had read the so-called pastoral letter I would have stood up and said ‘nonsense’." Mugabe added: "It’s not something spiritual, it’s not religious, the bishops have decided to turn political."

(c) Ecumenical News International