Viewing cable 07PRETORIA1096
Title: ZIMBABWE: CHURCH LEADERS CAUTIOUS ON VATICAN ROLE

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07PRETORIA10962007-03-28 15:00:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Pretoria
VZCZCXRO7936
PP RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSA #1096/01 0871500
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 281500Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8919
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY 2044
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS PRIORITY 1050
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1149
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1041
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 1168
RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN PRIORITY 4102
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 001096 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR AF/S S. HILL, EUR/WE LARREA 
ROME FOR VATICAN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/27/2017 
TAGS: PREL PHUM ZI VT SF
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE: CHURCH LEADERS CAUTIOUS ON VATICAN ROLE 
 
REF: A. STATE 036885 
     ¶B. VATICAN 0064 
     ¶C. PRETORIA 0957 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Eric M. Bost.  Reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 
 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY:  The Vatican shares U.S. concerns about the 
deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, but will be cautious 
about speaking out publicly, according to Papal Nuncio Green. 
 Public comments by the Pope are the final card to play, and 
the Vatican will want to save that step for the right moment. 
 Durban-based Cardinal Napier recently spoke with Harare 
Archbishop Ndlovu, and said the Catholic Church was 
considering a pastoral visit from regional church leaders 
and/or a public statement.  While Catholic Church leaders in 
South Africa are concerned about the deteriorating situation, 
they are reluctant to get too far in front of the bishops in 
Zimbabwe.  A clear signal from Archbishop Ndlovu in Harare 
might free Napier and other Catholic leaders to speak out 
more forcefully.  Senior Catholic and Anglican leaders from 
South Africa are planning a pastoral visit to Zimbabwe after 
Easter; organizers wish to keep this visit quiet, for the 
time being.  END SUMMARY. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
Papal Nuncio Says Papal Statement Final Step 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
¶2. (C) Ambassador delivered Ref A points to Papal Nuncio 
James Green, who is an American, on March 28, highlighting 
the continued suffering of the Zimbabwean people.  Green 
confirmed that the Vatican shares U.S. concerns and is 
following the situation closely.  Green noted that a public 
statement by the Pope is the final card to play, and the 
Vatican wants to save Papal intervention for the right moment 
("you don't want to swing at every pitch").  Once the Pope 
speaks out, there is little else the Vatican can do except 
repeat his comments. 
 
¶3. (C) Green noted that the situation in Zimbabwe is 
particularly embarrassing because Mugabe "pretends to be" a 
practicing Catholic.  Mugabe carries around a rosary, which 
he pulls out and shows people. 
 
¶4. (C) Green said that he recently spoke with his counterpart 
in Zimbabwe, Edward Adams.  Adams is deeply concerned about 
the situation.  He believes his phone is tapped, and Green 
and Adams spoke in code ("some Latin, some Italian").  Green 
also expressed his surprise and frustration with the South 
African Government's lack of public support for democracy and 
human rights, a stance he finds ironic given the 
international support for the anti-apartheid struggle. 
 
--------------------------------------- 
Cardinal Napier Discusses Interim Steps 
--------------------------------------- 
 
¶5. (C) Drawing on Ref A points, Consul General Durban 
informed Cardinal Wilfred Napier on March 26 of Embassy 
Vatican City's meetings with Vatican officials, noting that 
the Ambassador would be calling on the Papal Nuncio.  Napier 
reported that he had spoken with Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, 
president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference 
(SACBC), and Archbishop of Harare Robert Ndlovu following his 
March 13 meeting (Ref C) with the CG and PolOffs.  (NOTE: The 
SACBC covers South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, and 
Swaziland -- not/not Zimbabwe.  END NOTE.)  During these 
conversations, they discussed two options: (1) a pastoral 
visit to Zimbabwe to include unnamed senior clerics, and/or 
(2) a public statement condemning the situation in Zimbabwe. 
Napier said his colleagues were inclined to move forward with 
a pastoral visit, likely to take place after Easter, but had 
made no decision about a public statement.  Ndlovu and 
Tlhagale were concerned that a public statement might 
"jeopardize the current discussions" and the long-term 
prospects of constitutional change.  Napier commented that 
they were too focused on the long term and not enough on the 
immediate situation, which needed a response now. 
 
¶6. (C) Napier said he had also spoken with Anglican Bishop 
 
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Peter John Lee in Cape Town about the situation in Zimbabwe. 
Lee had spoken to DepForMin Aziz Pahad to offer any 
assistance the SAG deemed useful, but he did not have 
anything substantial to report from the meeting.  Napier said 
he had not yet been successful in reaching Archbishop of 
Bulawayo Pius Ncube but said he would continue to try.  He 
thought that the Archbishop sounded "desperate" in his "very 
strong" statements.  Napier said he had been in regular 
contact with Selvan Chetty of the Solidarity Peace Trust, who 
was in frequent contact with church officials in Zimbabwe. 
 
¶7. (C) Napier agreed that the situation in Zimbabwe was 
getting "desperate" and required immediate action in addition 
to the long-term process of changes currently being 
discussed.  He said he would contact his counterparts again 
to discuss the situation. 
 
--------------------------------------- 
Solidarity Peace Trust Organizing Visit 
--------------------------------------- 
 
¶8. (C) PolOff spoke separately to Selvan Chetty of the 
Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT) on March 28, who said he was 
organizing a visit to Zimbabwe for senior South African 
church leaders (NOTE: likely the same visit referred to by 
Napier in para 5).  SPT is a South African organization, 
co-chaired by Archbishop Pius Ncube and Anglican Bishop Rubin 
Phillip, that assists victims of human rights abuses in 
Zimbabwe.  The three-day visit would take place immediately 
after Easter, possibly Easter Monday, and would include 
Napier, the SACBC's Tlhagale, Phillip, and possibly Anglican 
Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane.  Chetty said he was 
struggling with Church politics in Zimbabwe since Harare 
Archbishop Ndlovu had some reservations about the trip, but 
that Napier was willing to "run over" Ndlovu if necessary. 
Chetty cautioned that he is trying to keep the visit quiet, 
because he fears that Mugabe might try to stop it if he 
learns about the trip in advance. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
¶9. (C) Catholic Church leaders in South Africa share U.S. 
concerns about the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, but 
are reluctant to get too far in front of the bishops in 
Zimbabwe.  A clear signal from Archbishop Ndlovu in Harare 
would go a long way toward freeing Napier and other Catholic 
leaders to speak out more forcefully about the tragic 
situation in Zimbabwe.  Napier, who expressed public concern 
about the situation March 14 following our last meeting with 
him, is devoting considerable time and energy to Zimbabwe 
issues and will likely continue to work on Ndlovu.  While 
Green did not explicitly say that he would raise the matter 
with Vatican officials, Zimbabwe is clearly on his mind, and 
we suspect he will do so. 
 
BOST