British Bishop Slams Ill Treatment of Priest in Zimbabwe

Plymouth Prelate Points Finger at Mugabe Government

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LONDON, AUG. 28, 2002 ( Bishop Christopher Budd of Plymouth condemned the Zimbabwean government’s treatment of a British priest who is working in the southern African nation.

Father Patrick J. Kelly was interrogated on three occasions by the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s security services, for alleged promotion «of opposition politics,» the bishop said.

The priest later was visited by so-called war veterans who ordered him to «stop spreading subversive politics» or leave his parish, St. Gabriel’s, in Nyanga, in the Diocese of Mutare.

Bishop Budd said that Father Kelly «has always been on the side of the people and would not agree to stop speaking the truth about justice in Zimbabwe. Therefore, he has been forced to leave his parish for his personal safety.»

The bishop said the priest told him by telephone «that a member of his parish was beaten up by the Central Intelligence Organization after being interrogated.»

The bishop stressed that these «events have nothing to do with white farmers in Zimbabwe occupying most of the good land and everything to do with the fundamental attitude of the Mugabe government to its own people, which is an unjust one.» As Southern Rhodesia, the land was once a British colony.

Father Kelly, 60, was ordained in 1967, and worked in St. Peter’s parish, Crownhill, Plymouth, for four years before going to the Diocesan African Mission in Kenya in 1971. He was assigned to Zimbabwe in 1998.

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