Zimbabwe: Archbishop Pius Ncube has resigned
The Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo Pius Ncube has resigned.
Archbishop Ncube said in a press statement issued today that the Vatican has accepted a request to leave office he made in July.
The archbishop said he took the decision as a result of "a State-driven, vicious attack not just on myself, but by proxy on the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe."
"In order to spare my fellow Bishops and the body of the Church any further attacks, I decided this was the best course of action.
The resignation follows dramatic allegations publicized by state media for weeks that the archbishop had an adulterous affair with the wife of a junior state employee who worked in his office. The case is the High Court in Bulawayo. The archbishop denies the allegations.
Less than two weeks ago, the Catholic Bishops of Zimbabwe came to the defense of their colleague, saying the accusations against him were "outrageous and utterly deplorable and "an assault on the Catholic Church.
Zimbabwe's state media cheered Ncube's resignation, but local commentators doubt the fierce critic of President Robert Mugabe will be easily stifled. Right up to his resignation Ncube has continued to challenge Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe in street protests at home and through lobbying abroad.
Ncube has been relentless in his efforts to focus attention on alleged human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. Mugabe denies the allegations and accuses the opposition and his Western foes of plotting to oust him.
Ncube played a prominent role in documenting and denouncing a military crackdown ordered by Mugabe in the 1980s against "armed dissidents" in which some 20,000 civilians are estimated to have been killed. Analysts believe that despite his fall from grace, Ncube will continue to pressure Mugabe and his government.
Here is the full text of Archbishop Ncube's statement:
"Today the Vatican will publicize their acceptance of an offer of resignation tendered to them by myself in July. I wrote to the Pope within days of what was obviously a State driven, vicious attack not just on myself, but by proxy on the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe. In order to spare my fellow Bishops and the body of the Church any further attacks, I decided this was the best course of action.
"It has been necessary for me to wait for the Vatican to acknowledge my resignation before making it public. It is my feeling that I should face this case in court as Pius Ncube, an individual, not that the Holy Catholic Church of God should seem to be on trial because I am its head.
"I know that there will be many of you who will be bitterly disappointed at my leaving my post as Archbishop of Bulawayo and a few who will be delighted, seeing their mission as having been accomplished.
"To the many thousands of Catholics and ordinary Zimbabweans as well as those in the international community who have stood by me in my hour of need, who have offered their prayers and stood in solidarity with me, I thank you all from the depths of my heart.
"I remain a Catholic Bishop in Zimbabwe, and will continue to speak out on the issues that sadly become more acute by the day. I am committed to the Word of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and see my decision as opening up new opportunities to serve Him through serving the poor and suffering of Zimbabwe, who sadly become more numerous and more impoverished every day.
"I remain unshakably committed to the Mission declared by Christ: "The Spirit of The Lord is upon me for He has anointed me to bring the Good News to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord. (Luke 4: 18-19)
"Recent events have brought me closer to God and have given me a clearer sense of mission. I have not been silenced by the crude machinations of a wicked regime. I am committed to promoting the social teachings of the Church, and to working among the poorest and most needy in Zimbabwe. My wish is to be a lowly servant of all: as stated by Jesus "I came not to be served, but to serve. (Matthew 20:28)
"I will use my experiences working among the people to lobby for greater humanitarian support, in particular for food and medical supplies at this time of extreme national crisis. I have various options available at the moment, both within the Church and within the civic movement, and will decide in the next few weeks which will provide the best platform to continue with God,s work.
"My passion is to get closer to God through prayer and to preach the Gospel so that the people move away from selfishness to care for God and others, and to fight for human rights. "Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Gospel to all creation. (Mark 16:15)
"May God bless and be with all of us.