We return to Zimbabwe with better listening ears, say the country’s Roman Catholic Bishops after Vatican visit

By Vatican News

ON Saturday, Bishops under the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) concluded the week-long ad limina visit to the Vatican.

Towards the end of their ad limina visit, the Zimbabwean Bishops met Pope Francis on Friday in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

The Bishop of Mutare Diocese and President of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, Paul Horan, O. Carm., spoke to Vatican News and said their meeting with the Pope was informal and very open. The Bishops, he said, feel enriched and strengthened by the ad limina visit.

We have been challenged to be close to our people

“We are returning with, I think, better listening ears, so to speak. We can discern the work of the Holy Spirit and that we can be courageous and true pastors in leading our people and in working with our other brothers and sisters in the other Christian denominations to build up the body of Christ in the country,” said Bishop Horan.

Bishop Horan continued, “I think we are going back different. We have been changed by this experience. There’s a great challenge for us to be closer to our people, to involve ourselves fully in the life of the country, and even be there for those who wish to avail of us for talks and dialogue in the future. Pope Francis, in particular, emphasised the need for dialogue, for listening, and for respectful communication. And we, as the Bishops, Catholic Bishops of the country, are always there to help in whatever way we can in the country’s political life. Secondly, we would want to implement even more the synod style of being among the people and to even establish new means by which people can participate more fully in the Church and allow them to express their particular gifts, their charisms in the local Church,” said the Mutare prelate.

Pope Francis asked us to listen more

Asked about what the Bishops were taking from their meeting with Pope Francis to the people of Zimbabwe, Bishop Horan said the Pope encouraged them as pastors to ensure that every member of the body of Christ was listened to.

“I think most of all, we are bringing his example of dedication to his people, that as Bishops, as pastors of the Church, as successors of the apostles, we too need to be completely dedicated to serving our people. And in the spirit of Synodality, as we approach the Synod on Synodality next month, we have to be servants of the people, leading them by our example. Our example of compassion, our example of listening, and our example of being open to the working of the Holy Spirit among them and through them so that the whole Church can be built up, in such a way that every member of the Church can feel that they are having their rightful place in the body of Christ on earth, the Church,” exlained Bishop Horan.

Zimbabwe after Presidential elections

Responding to Vatican News about the ‘elephant in the room’ -the recent Zimbabwean Presidential elections, Bishop Horan said while in Rome they prayed for President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

President of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, Bishop Paul Horan, O. Carm.

The Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa was sworn in for a second five-year term on Monday, September 4, after a disputed presidential vote.

“So, as we began our work here last Monday, it was the day that the President, His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa, was sworn into office. We remembered him in our prayers here in Rome and asked the Lord to bless him in his serving of the people of Zimbabwe over the coming years. And yes, some groups, both from within the country and outside, expressed reservations about the full fairness of the elections, including the statements we made ourselves. But we hope we can suggest to our government and political leaders to encourage them to listen to each other, to dialogue, to see what’s the best way forward for the country,” said the Bishop.

It was also the Bishops’ wish that things improve and that Zimbabweans would not feel the need to leave their country.

“People are hardworking and want the opportunity to use their talents within the country. Unfortunately, many Zimbabweans have to leave Zimbabwe to find employment outside the country. We hope that this trend will come to an end so that all our young people, talented young people, may have an opportunity to fulfil their talents and provide for their families within our own country,” said the ZCBC President.

What is an ad limina visit?

The term is derived from the Latin ad limina apostolorum (to the threshold of the apostles). An ad limina visit is an obligatory visit made by Catholic Bishops of the world to Rome. During the visit, the Bishops pray at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul. One of the highlights of the visit is the meeting with Pope Francis.

Part of the ad limina visit comprises several meetings with Cardinals and Vatican officials in the various dicasteries.

Before arriving in Rome, the Bishops would have submitted their quinquennial report of their respective diocese. This is a report that is compiled for the Vatican once every five years.







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