Paper blasts Mugabe's warm reception in Rome

May 30, 2011
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, centre, and his wife Grace leave St. Peter's Basilica after paying their respects at the casket of Blessed Pope John Paul II at the Vatican May 1.

CNS PHOTO | ALESSANDRO BIANCHI, REUTERS

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, centre, and his wife Grace leave St. Peter's Basilica after paying their respects at the casket of Blessed Pope John Paul II at the Vatican May 1.

Southern Africa's independent Catholic weekly defended the Vatican against criticism for allowing Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to receive Communion at the beatification of Blessed Pope John Paul II, but took Church officials to task for the warm welcome given the dictator.

In an editorial, editor Gunther Simmermacher said the "televised sight of the tyrant being warmly embraced by a broadly smiling prelate" was "embarrassing for the courageous bishops of Zimbabwe, and to the clergy, religious and laity who strive for a peaceful transition to an equitable and accountable democracy."

The editorial said Mugabe recently described the Zimbabwean bishops as "'so-called men of God who lie' and 'mere puppets of Western countries.'"

The editorial predicted Mugabe would "refer to his welcome in the Vatican when next he feels compelled to insult and attack the bishops of his country and to denounce their apostolic obligation to work for justice and peace."