THE International Union of Students (IUS), the umbrella body of all student unions around the world, has urged the Catholic Church to excommunicate President Robert Mugabe for
human rights abuses and for attacking church leaders.
The IUS, based in Prague, wrote to the Vatican last week exhorting the church to excommunicate Mugabe. The students’ plea follows representations by other groups, including Catholic bishops and human rights activists, to have Mugabe excluded from the church.
IUS political advisor to the secretary for African affairs, Nicholav Kalav, said Mugabe should be excommunicated for his disregard for human life. He further stated that Mugabe was leading a “repressive government” and the Catholic Church should mete out its most severe form of punishment.
“Our request is premised on the following: Mr Mugabe presides over a government that massacred thousands of civilians in Matabeleland in the early 1980s in Zimbabwe,” reads the letter. “As a means of reviving his fading political fortunes he has deployed some ex-freedom fighters to harass, harangue, torture, rape and murder supporters of opposition parties in the country. Recently he has been on a trail to persecute divine men of the Lord.”
Excommunication is usually reserved for very grave offences.
If Mugabe is excommunicated – which is unlikely – he will join the ranks of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, who was excommunicated from the church in 1962 by Pope John XXIII.
An official with the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) who declined to be named said the Vatican would consider the students’ request on its merits.
“There will be an objective analysis of the request and if it has any merits it will be considered,” the official said.
Mugabe, who has recently hit out at Bulawayo Archbishop Pius Ncube, has angered many church followers. The slurs have not gone down well with Catholics who feel that as long as the president is a practising member in full communion with the principles of the Roman Catholic Church, he should stop denigrating church leaders.
Catholic, Protestant and Ecumenical associations last week denounced what they called Mugabe’s “calculated, hateful and unjustified criticism of Archbishop Pius Ncube”.
“This amounts to the persecution of the church and its leaders as a ploy to silence it from voicing the glaring evils perpetrated against the generality of the population,” the organisations said in a joint statement.