CNA Staff, Aug 17, 2020 / 03:35 am
The Pope’s representative in Zimbabwe has expressed solidarity with a Catholic archbishop after he was harshly criticized by a government official.
Archbishop Paolo Rudelli, the Apostolic Nuncio to Zimbabwe, visited Archbishop Robert Ndlovu Aug. 16, the day after the country’s Minister of Information, Monica Mutsvangwa, launched a blistering personal attack on Ndlovu.
In a statement read out on national television, Mutsvangwa singled out Ndlovu, the Archbishop of Harare and president of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference, as she rejected the bishops’ recent pastoral letter lamenting an “unprecedented” crackdown on dissent.
Describing Ndlovu as an “errant and evil bishop,” Mutsvangwa accused the archbishop of seeking to heighten ethnic divisions.
She compared Ndlovu, a member of Zimbabwe’s minority Ndembele ethnic group, to clergy who incited genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
“With nefarious cynicism to history, Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu is inching to lead the Zimbabwe Catholic congregation into the darkest dungeons of Rwanda-type genocide,” Mutsvangwa claimed.
The bishops issued the pastoral letter Aug. 14 after security services suppressed anti-government protests in the capital, Harare. The protesters had taken to the streets to demand an end to corruption and mismanagement, while the hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter trended on social media.
Inflation is running at more than 700% in the landlocked southern Africa country, which has a population of 14.4 million. The nation is also suffering from mass unemployment and shortages of food and medicine, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.