Published On: Thu, Dec 8th, 2016

Roman Catholic Church probes sexual abuse

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By Owen Chikari

MASVINGO- The Roman Catholic church in Masvingo is investigating its top leadership following allegations of sexual abuse of female congregats by male church members amid reports that several women within the church could have been sexually abused during the past two years.

According to reliabe sources Bishops, Pastors and Priests have been
targeted by the probe following allegations that several church
“sisters”  were allegedly sexually  abused by their seniors.

“We are investigating these allegations after female church members
especially “sisters ” had raised concern over issues of sexual abuse
by male church elders,”said a Roman Catholic top official who refused
to be named for fear of victimization.

“However the probe is failing to go on smoothily because those top
church members implicated in the cases are doing all they can to make sure that the cases are swept under the carpet ,”added the official.

According to sources recently a church “sister ” filed rape charges
against a top church official but the case fell through after
witnesses refused  to testify openly against their church elders.

Although Masvingo police spokesperson Inspector Charity Mazula
proffessed ignorance over the matter a senior police officer who is
not allowed to talk to the press confirmed  to Zimbabwenewsday that he handled a case of rape involving a senior Roman Catholic Church

“We prepared  a docket for those implicated and took the mater to
court but the case could not sail through as  witnesses were not forth
coming and even the complainant was afraid of testifying openely
against a top church member,”said the police officer.

However the Roman Catholic Church lawyer  Collins Maboke dismissed the allegations of sexual abuse as untrue.
He however said as a church they were taking legal action against
church members who were spreading lies.

“We are going to apply for peace orders against members who continue to tarnish the image of the church,”said Maboke.

However sources said that this year’s 50th annivesary of a senior
church member held at Gokomere Mission was marred by urgly incindents when riot police stormed the venue after getting word that nearly all “sisters” from the Masvingo Diocese wanted to demonstrate against sexual abuse of female church congregats.

Last year the Roman Catholic Church  suspended five priests over
sexual offenses.
Most of those suspended were from the Gweru diocese.

Bishop Exavier Munyongani who is head of the Gweru Diocese could
neither confirm or deny at the time the suspension of the five.

“This is an internal matter which i can not comment on ,”said Munyongan then.

Sources within the church said the five priests were suspended for
periods ranging from five to three years depending on the gravity of
their cases.

The suspended priests will however remain ordinary church members.

Allegations of sexual abuse of female congregates by priests have
allegedly reached alarming levels within the Gweru and Masvingo

Catholic priests  commonly  known as “fathers” vow to celibacy when
they are ordained.