Vatican synod urges corrupt African leaders to quit
(Photo: Pope Benedict XVI with African bishops in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, 4 Oct 2009/Alessandro Bianchi)
Roman Catholic bishops called on corrupt Catholic leaders in Africa on Friday to repent or resign for giving the continent and the Church a bad name. Around 200 African bishops, along with dozens of other bishops and Africa experts, also accused multinational companies in Africa of “crimes against humanity” and urged Africans to beware of “surreptitious” attempts by international organizations to destroy traditional African values.
Their three-week synod, which ends formally on Sunday with a Mass by Pope Benedict, covered a range of Africa’s problems, such as AIDS, corruption, poverty, development aspirations and crime. But it had a very direct message for corrupt African leaders who were raised Catholics.
“Many Catholics in high office have fallen woefully short in their performance in office. The synod calls on such people to repent, or quit the public arena and stop causing havoc to the people and giving the Catholic Church a bad name.”
The message did not name any leaders. The international community has for years called on Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who was raised a Catholic and educated by Jesuits, to step down, saying he had brought his once-prosperous country to its knees.
Another African leader who was raised a Catholic and has been accused of corruption is Angola’s President Eduardo dos Santos. Both men deny any wrongdoing.
In a section on AIDS, the bishops’ message repeated the Church position that the spread of the disease could not be stopped by the use of condoms alone. Last March, on his way to his first trip to Africa, the pope caused an international storm by saying that the use of condoms could actually worsen the spread of AIDS.
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