Zimbabwe Catholics pray for Mugabe to be forgiven

At the Catholic cathedral where Zimbabwe’s former independence leader and ruler Robert Mugabe attended Mass, prayers for his forgiveness were offered on Sunday.

Mugabe died last Friday in Singapore. He was 95

Father Richard Mushukua opened Sunday’s Mass paying tribute to Mugabe and asking congregants to forgive him.

“He did a lot of positive things for our country but not everything that he did was right. We should learn to forgive for all the wrongs he may have committed. May God grant him mercy,” Mushuku said.

Mugabe dominated Zimbabwean politics for almost four decades from independence in 1980 until he was removed by his own army in a November 2017 coup.

Revered by many as a liberator who freed his people from white minority rule, he was also vilified by others for wrecking one of Africa’s most promising economies and ruthlessly crushing his opponents.

He was calculated and pragmatic, using the church when it suited him, said Oskar Wermter SJ.

Wermter said Mugabe was inclined to appear at Masses that would attract publicity and always expected to address the congregation.

Father Frederick Chiromba, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said the news of Mugabe’s death “is met with much sadness.”

Father Kennedy Muguti, who is the vicar-general of the archdiocese of Harare, said

“Being a Catholic, he tried his level best to live according to Christian values and I know people have mixed feelings in the way he practiced his Christian values”.

A parishioner, added to this, saying “current leaders must learn from his mistakes.”

The Zimbabwean government has told embassies it planned to hold a state funeral for Mugabe in the National Sports Stadium on Saturday, with a burial ceremony on Sunday.

Just where Mugabe will be buried is still being finalised.

His family is pushing back against the government’s plan to bury him at the National Heroes Acre monument in Harare and wants him to be buried in his home village instead.

Catholic-educated, Mugabe trained as a teacher, he taught at Catholic schools in Zimbabwe before leaving for Ghana.

He and his first wife were married in a Catholic church in Harare in 1961.

He had an apparently positive relationship with the Church until a 1997 report – compiled from witness accounts – listing over 7,000 cases of killings, torture and human rights abuses by Zimbabwe government troops.

This report changed Mugabe’s relationship with the church, which until then had been cordial, and he started to call the bishops “sanctimonious prelates.”


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