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    Saturday, March 31, 2007

    Africa prayers


    God Our Father,
    You have given all peoples one common origin,
    And your will is to gather them as one family in yourself.
    Give compassion to our leaders, integrity to our citizens, and repentance to us all.
    Fill the hearts of all women and men with your love
    And the desire to ensure justice for all their brothers and sisters.
    By sharing the good things you give us
    May we ensure justice and equality for every human being,
    An end to all division, and a human society built on love,
    Lasting prosperity and peace for all.
    We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
    ...
    Amen.
    ...
    Pastoral Letter by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference on the Current Crisis of Our Country
    ...
    ...
    The present crisis in our Country has its roots deep in colonial society.
    ...
    Why was this done? Because soon after Independence, the power and wealth of the tiny white Rhodesian elite was appropriated by an equally exclusive black elite, some of whom have governed the country for the past 27 years through political patronage. Black Zimbabweans today fight for the same basic rights they fought for during the liberation struggle. It is the same conflict between those who possess power and wealth in abundance, and those who do not; between those who are determined to maintain their privileges of power and wealth at any cost, even at the cost of bloodshed, and those who demand their democratic rights and a share in the fruits of independence; between those who continue to benefit from the present system of inequality and injustice, because it favours them and enables them to maintain an exceptionally high standard of living, and those who go to bed hungry at night and wake up in the morning to another day without work and without income; between those who only know the language of violence and intimidation, and those who feel they have nothing more to lose because their Constitutional rights have been abrogated and their votes rigged. Many people in Zimbabwe are angry, and their anger is now erupting into open revolt in one township after another.
    ...
    Our crisis is not only political and economic but first and foremost a spiritual and moral crisis. As the young independent nation struggles to find its common national spirit, the people of Zimbabwe are reacting against the "structures of sin" in our society. Pope John Paul II says that the "structures of sin" are "rooted in personal sin, and thus always linked to the concrete acts of individuals who introduce these structures, consolidate them and make them difficult to remove. And thus they grow stronger, spread, and become the source of other sins, and so influence people's behaviour." [1] The Holy Father stresses that in order to understand the reality that confronts us, we must "give a name to the root of the evils which afflict us." [2] That is what we have done in this Pastoral Letter.
    ...
    The Bible describes oppression in concrete and vivid terms: Oppression is the experience of being crushed, degraded, humiliated, exploited, impoverished, defrauded, deceived and enslaved. And the oppressors are described as cruel, ruthless, arrogant, greedy, violent and tyrannical; they are called 'the enemy'. Such words could only have been used by people who in their own lives and history had an immediate and personal experience of being oppressed. To them Yahweh revealed himself as the God of compassion who hears the cry of the oppressed and who liberates them from their oppressors. The God of the Bible is always on the side of the oppressed. He does not reconcile Moses and Pharaoh, or the Hebrew slaves with their Egyptian oppressors. Oppression is sin and cannot be compromised with. It must be overcome. God takes sides with the oppressed. As we read in Psalm 103:6: "God who does what is right, is always on the side of the oppressed". [4]
    ...

    When confronted with the politically powerful, Jesus speaks the language of the boldest among Israel's prophets. He calls Herod 'that fox' (Lk13:32) and courageously exposes the greed for money, power and adulation of the political elite. And he warns his disciples never to do likewise: "Among the gentiles it is the kings who lord it over them, and those who have authority over them are given the title Benefactor. With you this must not happen. No, the greatest among you must behave as if he were the youngest, the leader as if he were the one who serves" (Lk 22:25-27). And he warns Pilate in no uncertain terms that he will be held to account by God for his use of power over life and death (John 19:11).

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