Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, FL, chairman of the US bishops' international policy committee, has written a letter to the president of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference expressing solidarity with the bishops and people of Zimbabwe as they confront a growing humanitarian and governmental crisis.
In a recent pastoral letter entitled "God Hears the Cries of the Oppressed," posted as an Easter message in churches throughout the country, the Catholic bishops of Zimbabwe said further bloodshed and mass uprisings would only be prevented through democratic elections.
"We offer profound respect to you and our brother bishops in Zimbabwe for your brave and faithful pastoral ministry in these difficult days, and we acknowledge and accept the bishops' invitation to join with you in prayer for Zimbabwe," Bishop Wenski wrote in a letter to Bishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu, the Archbishop of Harare and the president of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference.
Bishop Wenski called the bishops' pastoral letter "a powerful testimony to the prophetic leadership of the bishops of Zimbabwe and to the tragic situation of the people in your country."
In Zimbabwe, pro-democracy advocates have been killed, jailed and tortured. The country is suffering an economic crisis, lacks adequate food supplies and has one of the world's lowest life expectancies. "As the suffering population becomes more insistent, generating more and more pressure through boycotts, strikes, demonstrations and uprisings, the state responds with ever harsher oppression through arrests, detentions, banning orders, beatings and torture," the bishops of Zimbabwe wrote in their pastoral letter.
Pope Benedict XVI made reference to Zimbabwe during his "Urbi et Orbi" Easter address, describing the country as "in the grip of a grievous crisis."