We pray Mugabe was listening

HARARE - The popular new head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, inaugurated his papacy on Tuesday with a rousing address calling for the defence of the weakest in society, saying that the alternative path was one of death and destruction.

Addressing an estimated 200 000 people and many foreign leaders gathered under bright sunshine in St Peter’s Square, at the Vatican — including President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace — the Argentine pope emphasised his constant message since he was elected by a secret conclave of cardinals last week, that the church’s mission was to defend the poor and disadvantaged.

In his homily, the new pope called for world leaders to be “protectors of one another and of the environment... Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives. Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts.”

Pope Francis went on to say the church’s mission meant respecting each of God’s creatures and “protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about” — adding that whenever human beings failed to care for the environment and each other.”

“The way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically in every period of history, there are ‘Herods’ who plot death, wreak havoc and mar the countenance of men and women.”

We at the Daily News join billions around the world in saying Amen to this. Mugabe, who for the past decade has been isolated accused of all sorts of violations, went to great lengths to attend the inauguration as he has been under a European Union travel ban since 2002 because of allegations of vote rigging and human rights abuses.

The Vatican is technically not part of the European Union, which allowed the 89-year-old to travel there.

Our fervent prayer is that the first citizen, an avowed Catholic, truly listened to Pope Francis’ message, because so much has gone wrong in our country over the past 33 years of supposed Uhuru.

Undeniably, the lot of the poor, weak and marginalised has progressively worsened with each passing year of  Zanu PF rule.

Hatred, callousness and pride have come to defile and define the lives of our rulers — who certainly have no interest in watching over their emotions and hearts as Pope Francis exhorted.

The ugly result — again as Pope Francis warned — has been death, destruction, wanton looting and hardening of hearts by those in Zanu PF and government.

It is not too late Mr President. - Staff Writer

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