Now I see he is in Rome for Pope John Paul II’s beatification:
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe arrived in Rome for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II, airport officials said Saturday, despite his EU-wide travel ban for alleged human rights abuses.
The Vatican did not personally invite Mugabe to the Sunday event, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi of the Holy See Press office.
But a diplomatic relationship exists between Zimbabwe and the Vatican, a sovereign state that is not a member of the European Union.
The BBC also has the news.
But as I was saying, back in 2007, he was acting very differently:
By ridiculing the church and insulting its bishops, Zimbabwe’s Catholic president, Robert Mugabe, blamed for the country’s political and economic turmoil, has cut himself off from the Church.
That is the view of Fr Oskar Wermter, a Jesuit priest in Zimbabwe since 1966 and now based in St Peter’s Mbare, a socially depressed area in Harare where government demolitions in 2005 destroyed livelihoods and left many people hopeless.
“In a very real way,” President Mugabe has “effectively excommunicated himself, that is to say put himself outside the community of the church, by resisting the word of the church and attacking the bishops in a most offensive, vulgar form,” says Fr Wermter.
His comments are published in the current issue of the Jesuit electronic newsletter, In Touch with Church and Faith:
“People once more demand that Mugabe be excommunicated. This is old hat. It was mooted years ago. It was said then that this was no longer done today. At any rate, excommunication in a strict legal (canonical) sense is a measure applied only in certain circumstances defined by church law.
“While in the past excommunication was used against heads of governments and leaders of nations, kings and emperors, this is extremely rare today. We no longer live in the Middle Ages. The local bishops do not even have that power. It would have to come from the Pope himself.
“However, in a very real way, though not technically as defined by church law, Mugabe has effectively excommunicated himself, that is to say put himself outside the community of the Church, by resisting the word of the church and attacking the Bishops in a most offensive, vulgar form. At least the constant propaganda line that he is a “practising devout Catholic” is now shown to be false…
And even just last year:
President Robert Mugabe faces possible ex-communication from the Roman Catholic Church for allegedly violating a standing doctrine governing the conduct of its members when he wore a Vapostori robe at a gathering of a Johanne Marange Apostolic Sect in Manicaland last weekend, church leaders have said.
Rod in hand, President Mugabe preached polygamy to the congregation of more than 200 000 worshipers who had gathered for their annual Passover at Mafirarikwa in Marange communal lands, further compounding his “transgressions”.
“Our Constitution allows for polygamy. We will not force people into monogamous marriages. Inga muBhaibheri chaimo zvirimo. Solomon haana kungopihwa upfumi chete asi nevakadzi vakawanda”(It is written in the Bible that King Solomon was not only blessed with riches but with many wives as well) President Mugabe said…
In any event, his attendance is indeed controversial, and do spare a thought for the multitudes still suffering today under his dictatorial rule.