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Zimbabwe Crisis Described as Worse than Desperate

Southern Africa Catholic bishops have declared February 15th “Zimbabwe Sunday” - an effort to show solidarity with the Zimbabwe people, who are in the midst of a humanitarian, political and economic crisis. The Southern African Catholic Church Has been critical of the Mugabe government, calling it "illegitimate" and describing mediation efforts as "flawed."

South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier spoke about the reasons for declaring a Zimbabwe Sunday.

“One of the things we heard from the Zimbabweans some years ago was that we should keep them in mind, sending messages, and especially keeping them in our prayers. And this is a logical thing to do at this because the situation is just getting so much worse,” he says.

Asked about the need to take action now, Cardinal Napier says, “There was a delegation of two bishops that came to address the bishop’s conference and one of them put it, I think, in the most graphic way anyone could put it. He said it was ‘passive genocide’ for the world to be standing by and watching what’s going on in Zimbabwe. I think one could say the situation is worse than desperate.”

Cardinal Napier says he hopes to accomplish two things on February 15th. “The first one is simply to express our Christian solidarity with our brothers and sisters, who are suffering. And secondly…to do something towards alleviating some of their suffering by collecting funds, food, clothing and medicines and things of that nature,” he says.

Collections will be made at Catholic churches across southern Africa February 15th.

Commenting on what might be done to help solve the problems in Zimbabwe, Cardinal Napier says, “I think a bit of honesty would help as a start. The MDC (opposition party) won the parliamentary elections. They’ve been denied the opportunity to form a government. And (Morgan) Tsvangirai won the first round of the presidential election and I’m sure would have won the second thing (runoff) outright had he not been forced to withdraw because of the intimidation and violence that was let loose on his supporters.”

Caritas, the international coordinating body for Catholic charities, is expected to help distribute the charity items through Zimbabwe catholic churches.