The Catholic Church’s Dialogical Method and Engagement with the Zimbabwean State between 2000 and 2010

Main Article Content

Stephen Phiri https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1336-1628

Keywords

Catholic Church, Empathetic Dialogical Method, Catholic Bishops’ Conference, pastoral letters, Zimbabwean state

Abstract

The Catholic Church’s advocacy against bad governance in Zimbabwe (the country’s name was Rhodesia till April 18, 1980) can be traced back to its colonial days. The nature of the Catholic Church’s participation in the strug-gle towards good governance is focused on ensuring that the needs of the people are catered for by the responsible governmental structures. As the Catholic Church defends the people’s rights, such a defense inevitably forces it to confront and challenge structures responsible for bad governance. Such confrontation or challenge of political or social structures (which it deems responsible for bad governance) is dialogical in nature as the Catholic Church expects a response towards their anticipated change. This article examines the nature of the Catholic Church’s dialogical method by using an ‘Empathetic Dialogical Method’ focusing specifically on three Catholic Bishops’ pastoral letters which were written between 2000 and 2010. A critical reflection of these letters reveals the contribution made by the Catholic Church during the post-independence period. In terms of dialogue, the article reveals that the Catholic Church’s dialogical method is predominantly non-empathetic. It further understands the dialogical method of the Catholic Church as highly prescriptive and in most cases non-consultative. This position, as the article argues, is influenced by the Catholic Church’s religious and political structure.

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