Southern African Bishops hold 'Zimbabwe Sunday'

  The Southern African Conference of Catholic Bishops (SACBC) declared yesterday 'Zimbabwe Sunday', a special day for prayer and support for the people of Zimbabwe, which is suffering from hunger, cholera, and the economic crisis. Promoting the initiative were the Bishops of South Africa, Botswana, and Swaziland (the three countries that form a part of the Southern African Conference), who at the Sunday Masses encouraged the faithful to show their closeness to their brethren in Zimbabwe with prayer and acts of solidarity. The food and medicine collected in the Masses will be distributed to those in need through the network of Caritas Zimbabwe. Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight also sent a message of solidarity to the people and Church of Zimbabwe, on behalf of all 162 national Caritas members. "Half of Zimbabweans rely on food aid to survive, a cholera epidemic has killed 3,500 so far out of 71,000 cases, and the country's economic, health, educational infrastructure has collapsed," Caritas Internationalis said in a statement. Lesley-Anne Knight said: "the people of Zimbabwe need our solidarity in this time of crisis and tragedy. Reports from Caritas staff on the ground are of acute need among the majority of people. The lack of food will be peaking over the next few weeks, a cholera epidemic has already killed too many, and the suffering is deepening." "Catholics and people of good will around the world will be seeing the tragic events unfold in Zimbabwe and wondering what they can do to help. We can follow the example of the Southern African bishops by marking 15 February as Zimbabwe Sunday with our thoughts and prayers." Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Archbishop of Durban, said the decision to hold Zimbabwe Sunday came about after the visit of two bishops who addressed the bishop's conference. He said: "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." Cardinal Napier said he hoped to accomplish two things on Zimbabwe Sunday: "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." Source: Fides

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