Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"The Devil Made Me Do It": Disgraced Bishop Resigns in Zimbabwe

Pius forced to resign

By Isdore Guvamombe
Zimbabwe Herald

DISGRACED Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo Diocese, Pius Ncube (60), has been forced to resign by the Vatican, nearly two months after a Bulawayo man filed a $20 billion lawsuit against him for adultery.

Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Father Martin Schupp to act until the Holy See makes a substantive appointment.

Roman Catholic Church priests are sworn to a vow of celibacy, meaning that they must never marry and must never engage in sexual intercourse.

Ncube is embroiled in a $20 billion lawsuit brought against him by Mr Onesimus Sibanda, who alleges in papers filed at the High Court in Bulawayo in July that the cleric had an adulterous relationship with his wife, Mrs Rosemary Sibanda, who is also a member of his parish.

Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference secretary general Father Fradreck Chiromba said Archbishop Ncube’s resignation was accepted in terms of the church’s Code of Canon Law.

"Pope Benedict XVI, on Tuesday, 11 September 2007, accepted the resignation of Archbishop Pius A. Ncube as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Bulawayo.

"The resignation was tendered to the Holy Father by Archbishop Ncube in accordance with canon 401 & 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

"Canon 401 & 2 encourages a bishop to offer his resignation when, because of health or some other serious reason, he has become less able to fulfil his office,’’ said Fr Chiromba.

Fr Chiromba said Fr Schupp, who is also the apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Bulawayo, would act "until the Holy See decides otherwise in terms of the Archdiocese that is now vacant".

Although no comment could be obtained from Ncube yesterday, the BBC quoted him as saying he had resigned as the Archbishop but remained a bishop in the church.

"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 promoting the social teachings of the church and working among the poorest and most needy in Zimbabwe," said the disgraced bishop in his face-saving statement to the BBC yesterday.

His forced resignation is a slap in the face of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which last week made an impish attempt to defend him in his alleged adulterous affair with Mrs Sibanda.

The media in July published photographs of Ncube in bed with Mrs Sibanda. It also showed him being intimate with another woman.

In March, Ncube — who had developed a tendency to stray from holy preachings to devilish and heinous political statements attacking President Mugabe and the Government — said he was prepared to stand in front of "blazing guns" in street protests to bring down the Government. He urged other Zimbabweans to do the same.

Four months later, he was at it again, saying Britain should invade Zimbabwe to remove Cde Mugabe, claiming this would be "the lesser of two evils".

He is also on record for declaring he was praying for President Mugabe’s death.


Zim archbishop quits, slams regime

Felix Mponda
Wed, 12 Sep 2007

Archbishop Pius Ncube, a leading critic of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, resigned on Tuesday after an adultery scandal but said he would not be silenced by the "wicked regime".

Ncube said his move was intended to save the church from further attacks and enable him to challenge the adultery charge in court in his private capacity.

"I remain a Catholic bishop in Zimbabwe and will continue to speak out on the issues that sadly become more acute by the day," Ncube (60) said in a statement released in Bulawayo, the country's second city.

"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 working among the poorest and most needy in Zimbabwe," he added.

Ncube stood down as Archbishop of Bulawayo after state media in July published photographs depicting him in bed with a married woman.

The Pope accepted the resignation

The Vatican said Pope Benedict XVI had accepted the resignation.

Ncube said he would look in coming weeks at "various options" open to him within the church and civic groups.

He said in Zimbabwe people were suffering more each day. "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."

He said he was stepping down "in order to spare my fellow bishops and the board of the church any further attacks."

Ncube, who was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in August 1973, has been a constant thorn in the side of Mugabe's government, calling for people to rise up against his rule and this year declaring his readiness to "go in front of blazing guns".

Claims of adultery

The state-owned Herald newspaper in July published some allegedly compromising pictures, claiming to depict the Bulawayo archbishop having sex with the wife of another man.

It said the pictures were taken secretly with cameras set up by a private investigator hired by the woman's husband to secure evidence of the alleged adultery. He is now suing Ncube for Z$20-billion ($160 000).

"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," said Ncube.

Bulawayo priest Father Frederick Chiromba was quoted by state television as saying that Ncube resigned "in accordance with the code of Canon Law which encourages a bishop to offer his resignation when because of health or some other serious reasons, he has become less able to fulfil his office".

Ncube has since 1998 been the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo.

But he has kept a low profile since Herald published the picture.

Treading a 'dangerous path'

Mugabe (83) in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has warned that church leaders who had become increasingly critical of him were treading a "dangerous path".

Mugabe has since rebuked Ncube for "snatching other people's women" and breaking his vow of celibacy.

In a reaction on Tuesday in Harare shortly after the cleric's resignation was made public, the government said that Ncube had been "exposed".

"Basically, he has been exposed for the person that he was, living a lie," Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga told AFP, asserting that the resignation was "a confirmation that he committed what he is supposed to have committed".

But Archbishop Pius Ncube Solidarity Coalition said it was "deeply distressed" by the resignation.

"While we are deeply distressed about the resignation of Archbishop Ncube, we take comfort in the fact that he is going to continue his campaign for democracy, justice and freedom," the group said in a statement in Bulawayo.

"He is an important voice that must always be heard."


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