Text Size

The Road to Peace

The Road to Peace
A Study Document issued by the Rhodesia Catholic Bishops’ Conference
1976 (Jan. 1977)



A. Introduction

On the 28th of October, 1965 – 11 years ago – Pope Paul VI and all the bishops of the world solemnly proclaimed the following text: “In exercising their duty of teaching, (the bishops) should announce the Gospel of Christ to men … they should set forth the ways by which are to be solved the very grave questions concerning ownership, increase, and just distribution of material goods, peace and war, and brotherly relations among peoples” (CHRISTUS DOMINUS 12).
This we intend to do. We invite all to reflect on peace: on its true meaning, on the conditions for its existence and on the obstacles to its establishment. And on what we ourselves ought to do to inherit the reward promised by the Lord when he said: “Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God.” (Mt. 5:8).
We do not promise technical solutions. We are not speaking as economists, sociologists or politicians. We are simply proclaiming a message which comes from God; a message which is capable of inspiring politicians, economists and sociologists.

B. Increasing Awareness and Expectation

The situation in Rhodesia is uncertain. For many it has been frightening. But, in spite of frustrations and fears, there are signs of hope for Christians living in these challenging times. As Christians we believe that the world is God’s world; and that He intervenes in it and gives men power to transform it into a world of brothers.
In recent years there has been an increasing awareness of self-identity in most social and racial groups of the community. This awareness has generated a world of rising expectations , though not always clearly defined, These are some of its manifestations:
  • People can see that up to now the state of affairs in the social and political filed has been designed and framed by a few and chiefly for the benefit of a privileged minority.

  • People do not want to be ignored. African society especially wants to affirm its presence and personality. For many years it has been ignored or mainly thought of  as an instrument or as a threat to the ruling system.

  • The feelings and needs of the African citizens have hitherto been interpreted by European leaders. But Africans feel they no longer need European intermediaries to tell the world what they think and what they want.

  • The African is increasingly aware that he has been relegated to being no more than an instrument of production, an item in the consumer economy. Though the community has grown fast, money and economic development have not brought mutual respect and human dignity; indeed they have contributed to the deterioration of human relations. It is no longer a share in economic development that the people demand, but an opportunity to become agents of that development and architects of their own history.

  • As a result of this awareness, there has been a growing discontent in the country, especially among the youth. Perhaps some of the people who protested did not know exactly what they wanted but they were very clear about what they rejected: namely, living in a society that denied them fundamental rights.

  • Africans refuse any longer to be treated as minors, or to be controlled by slogans and propaganda. They are aware that they are adults, and capable of making their own decisions.

  • The violence which has spread in our country may be explained by this growing awareness. Racial discrimination cannot be the foundation of true peace. We are concerned about the failure to take steps to eliminate this and other causes of violence. Obstacles have been put in the way of peace, and mounting wave of hatred has been threatening the country. Everyday, innocent blood has been shed. Many who feel themselves oppressed wonder whether Christian faith can provide an answer to their hopes. Has the Christian message anything to say on the practical problems of the struggle for justice and peace? Can one be a Christian without being committed to transforming society?

Few believers nowadays are prepared to accept that an unjust order is inevitable let alone ordained by God. This leads many to seek insights in faith. While some unreasonably give up their faith on the excuse that it is an obstacle to the liberation which they seek, others try to discover in the Gospel the guiding principles of a just society, and the courage they need to put them into practice.
Has the church anything to say to encourage those who suffer injustice, and struggle for the recognition of their human rights? Some months ago, Pope Paul VI had this to say: “The Church has the duty to proclaim the liberation of millions of human beings … of assisting the birth of this liberation, of giving witness to it, of ensuring that it complete” (EVANGELII MUNTIANDI 30).
Moved by pastoral concern and inspired by these words of the Holy Father, we address ourselves in this document to all men of good will. Our repeated calls in the past years for the establishment of a society without racial discrimination, as well as our condemnation of unjust legislation, have largely gone unheeded. We make our own the sufferings and anxieties of all our people.
We recall the words of our Lord: “How happy are you who are poor: yours is the Kingdom of God” (Lk. 6:20). Though some have made wrong use of these words to canonize poverty resulting from an unjust order, we see in them the beginning of a new kingdom which the Lord came to proclaim. He came “to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to set the downtrodden free” (Lk. 4:18). His consoling words bring happiness to the poor and the oppressed telling them they are going to be the top people in his new kingdom of justice and peace.
It is on this message that we want to mediate with you. It is with the docility of students and disciples, that we must accept the Gospel and the teaching of the Church. We must allow the Gospel to challenge our behaviour. We must accept the Gospel. We must be converted to it, without fearing where it may lead us.


A. The Gospel should not be misused.

We have no fears about the right use of the gospel. But we must beware of distorted interpretations of the Gospel which only create confusion.
For centuries the Gospel has served as an arsenal where all might find arms to justify personal attitudes and weapons to confound the adversary of the moment.
Opposing ideas and systems each try to find support for themselves in the words of the Gospel, by manipulating the Word of God.
Often the word “Christian” is misused to canonize injustices caused by civil legislation. Nothing is farther from the true spirit of the Gospel, than such an interpretation. Others hold that the message brought by Christ refers only to the spiritual sphere, and has no link with the social and political situation in which men live. The Church, they say, has only to care for souls. This contradicts the history of salvation. The Pope said on the 8th December, 1975: “God’s plan of salvation touches the very concrete situations of injustice to be combated and of justice to be restored” (EVANGELII MUNTIANDI, 31).
Those who manipulate the Word of God in support of their earthly and selfish interests should apply to themselves the words that Our Lord said to the Pharisees: “You make the God’s word null and void for the sake of your tradition which you have handed down” (Mk. 7:130)
The Word of God is demanding and liberating. It challenges individuals as well as groups, citizens as well as those in the Government, the poor and defenceless as well as the rich and powerful. Those who manipulate it for their own end, do the greatest disservice to peace.
The Gospel and its message of peace demand a true conversion, a radical change of heart.

B. Accepting God

The first meaning of conversion is accepting God. It is to believe that He exists, and lives, and speaks, and takes part in the affairs of man. It is to believe that the Bible is not just a collection of ancient texts, for the use of scholars. Nor is it just a collection of quotations for poets and public speakers. Conversion means believing that it is the manuscript of the coming of God into human history; that it contains the word of God which puts us to the test and demands that we make a choice.
To believe is to choose. Belief is saying ‘yes’ to God as Peter said: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt.16:16). It is being faithful to Him, even in hours of discouragement and when we are tempted to abandon Him, and saying to Him as Peter said: “Lord, who else shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life” (Jn. 6:68). To believe is also to love Him, in spite of the weight of our sins and our errors, and to say, as Peter did: “Lord, you know everything: you know I love you” (Jn. 21:17). Accepting God fills man’s heart with joy and self-fulfilment  which is the beginning of true peace.

C. Accepting the Will of God

Being converted, accepting God, also means accepting the will of God.; identifying our will with His. It means loving what He loves, wanting what he wants, hating what he hates.
Christ gives us the perfect example of the will of man being at one with the will of God. “I do nothing of my will … I always do what pleases Him.” (Jn. 8:28-29). “My aim is not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (Jn. 4:34). What is the will of the Father? It is that we, like Christ, “follow his commandments”, that we “should love one another” as Christ loved us.
Do we want to work for peace? We can each of us begin by examining our own heart. Is there in it any antipathy, dislike, or envy? Even so, we can still work for peace. Let us look around us. Do we really care for people; all people, black and white, poor and rich, believers and non-believers, those in our group and those outside? If so, we shall really be beginning to work for peace.

D. To love our brother is to respect his rights

Besides faith and love of God, peace also requires that we love all men as our brothers. Love is brought about by respect and justice; and justice is itself the expression of respect. Because he is a son of God, man has rights; for that reason alone he has a right to be respected. He has a right to be born, to eat, to take part in decisions which affect his life, to raise a family, to believe, to hope and to love. Unless these rights are recognised and secured, there will be no peace.

E.The right to life

Every man has the right to life, both black and white. It would be intolerable for any government to claim to determine who should have this right, and how many children they should have.
A start must be made to share the goods of this world more equitably among all nations; and within each nation more fairly among all its people. If people have to be hungry, let us be hungry together. The privileged few should not defend their well-stocked larder by making others go without the plenty they could have. (Discourse of Pope Paul VI to the United Nations, 4th October 1965).

The responsibility of transmitting life belongs to parents, and to them alone. It is a responsibility which they have to exercise, always and only, within the framework of legitimate means.

The right to a fair share of the country’s resources

Man has the right to eat. When a man goes hungry, Christ goes hungry. When a man is hungry because he has been denied food, Christ has been denied food (Cf. Mt.25:31-36).
Excessive economic and social imbalances are the main cause of tensions and conflicts between individuals and groups. They are a constant threat to the peace of a country. It is a personal and a public duty to remove this danger to peace.
If a country is to develop economically, it must give a fair share of its resources to all its inhabitants. It has a special responsibility for the underdeveloped areas or sectors of the economy in order to remove or lessen economic and social imbalance. No amount of private personal acts of charity can substitute for corporate acts of justice which are the responsibility of the state and its more fortunate citizens.
Pope John XXIII explained that: considerations of justice and equity can at times demand that those in power pay more attention to the weaker members of society, seeing that these are at a disadvantage when it comes to defending their own rights and asserting their legitimate claims.” (PACEM IN TERRIS 56).

G.The right to physical and moral integrity

Man has the right to his physical and moral integrity. He may not be submitted to physical torment or to humiliating punishments, or to terror. Nor may torture be used to make him say what he does not want to say and which would bring harm upon himself or upon other.
These procedures have had an ignoble history – even in Church circles – and they are still in use today. As Paul VI said, “No country is today faultless in reference to human rights” (BISHOPS’ SYNOD, 1974). True, there are some who see “the splinter in another’s eye” and not see “the plank in their own” (Mt. 7:3). Whatever their explanation, these practices ought to disappear. We cannot accept the theory that the ‘end justifies the means’. We know the outrage which this principle caused in the countries where it was systematically applied. Even were it successful, it cannot be tolerated: every means used must itself be morally justifiable; and evil means can only produce a morally evil end.

H. The right to integral development

Pope Paul has described man’s right to develop, to realise himself fully: “In the design of God, every man is called upon to develop and fulfil himself, for every life is a vocation. At birth, everyone is granted, in germ, a set of aptitudes and qualities for him to bring to fruition.” (POPULORUM PROGRESSIO 15).
Integral development means the development of the whole man and every man from less human conditions to those which are more human. What is less human? The lack of material necessities essential for life; the moral deficiencies of those inspired by selfishness; oppressive social structures with their abuse of wealth and power and their exploitation of the workers.
What is more human? Increased knowledge; increased culture; increased respect for the dignity of others; co-operation for the common good and for peace; respect for the highest values in human life; faith and charity as sharers in the life of God himself.
It is not only certain individuals but all men and all communities who are called to his fullness of development which is therefore a right and also a common task of all.

I. The right to participate

Man has the right to eat. But man has other legitimate hungers. Work is not simply to pay the price of eating. Man wishes and has the right to participate in public affairs. In the Gospel Christ quotes the scriptures: “Man does not live by bread alone.” (Mt. 4:4).
Pope Paul VI says: “One demand made by man of today is a greater sharing in responsibility and decision-making. This legitimate aspiration becomes more evident as the cultural level rises, as the sense of freedom develops…” (OCTOGESIMA ADVENIENS 47).
There comes a time in the development of a nation when most of the people have sufficient political consciousness to know where their true interests are, to express their opinions as full citizens, to enjoy their full political rights and responsibilities. When such a stage has been reached no government, no matter how well intentioned it might be, can advance the common welfare unless that government be accepted by the majority of its citizens.

J. The right to believe, to hope, to love

Man has the right to believe, to hope, to love. He has a right to hear the word of God and to proclaim it freely “from the house tops’ (Lk. 12:3). He has a right to worship God freely, while respecting the rights of others to do the same: “All men should immune from coercion on the part of individuals, social groups and every human power. Within due limits, nobody should be forced to act against his convictions…” (DIGNITATIS HUMANAE 2).
Man has a right to love, to serve his friends, to help those who are in need; to console those who suffer, to counsel and to encourage.

K. Our duty

Unless all men who live in the same country feel secure in their right to live and are invited to share in the ordering of their own lives and to take part in the government of themselves, there will not be true peace. We are convinced that this can and will happen when man accepts God and His will, when he sees in all men their God-given dignity, and give the respect which thereby their due.
We believe that the Gospel message is a persuasive and saving force for all men without exception, and that it is our duty to offer it to our brothers as our specific contribution to peace.
We hope later to discuss in a further document the civil duties of the people, complementary to the rights already mentioned.


A. Removing obstacles

In Rhodesia for many years there have been various factors which have combined to produce a climate of division, violence and injustice. Today we ask the people of Rhodesia to remove any obstacles which may stand in the way of permanent peace We also ask them not to create new obstacles, or to commit errors which might be irreparable.
As bishops, we have no commitment to any political party, or any particular class or economic interests. Our commitment is quite otherwise. Our commitment is to all the seven million people here in this country. We are especially committed to that large portion of this nation which suffers poverty, disregard and frustration, whatever the causes may be. The Church is present in Rhodesia, in every part of the country, in all its social environments. It is in the townships and rural districts; it is in the wealthy residential sections of the cities and in the remotest tribal trust lands. Its people come from every walk of life.
We are aware of the conflicting ideas which shake this country and which affect us all. But we must work so that the unifying teaching of Christ and of his Church may influence and correct all man-made systems of thought, and brings to our common task the unity and witness of Christ.
We do not believe in facile solutions, nor in taking up unilateral positions. We do not desire to return to the past, or even to hold on to the present. We believe in being open to what could be a different or better future.

B. Three obstacles

There are three currents of thought and of action which we consider especially dangerous for peace; each of them hardens and alienates man, creating in their followers a mentality which contradicts the demands of the Gospel; each of them divides man, claiming for their followers the right to live and dominate and enjoy themselves at the expense of the rights of everyone else.
These three currents of thought and action are; atheistic communism, individualistic capitalism, and extreme nationalism. We will deal with each separately:


Conflict and suffering
    It is well known that in many countries Religion, and Christianity in particular, have suffered greatly at the hands of communist or communist-inspired governments. The long history of it is not yet over. Since there are features of communism which some people find attractive, we feel it our duty to say something about it.
Capitalism and Marxism are correlative
    The development of socialism and of Marxism is the counterpart of the development of  economic liberalism and of capitalism. These correlative currents are the products of an industrial society which prevailed mainly in England up to the end of the 19th century; it then spread rapidly, first to both sides of the Atlantic, and later to the entire world. In speaking of socialism and Marxism, one must not forget their character of reaction against the excesses of capitalism and of liberalism. Even today the most effective way of combating Marxism could be to eliminate those capitalist abuses on which it breeds.
Christian Values
    It is undeniable that, in its origins, socialism – although not necessarily Marxist-leninist  socialism, aspires after justice in its desire to improve the conditions of the poor, in its will to limit the power of money, in its longing for equality. These values, properly understood in their original purity, have always been true Christian values. They are in the Bible. They are in the Gospel. They are ours. We will deny them because others have also made them their own.
Kinds of Socialism
    It is good to remember that there are many brands of socialism. For example, today there is much interest in socialism on the African continent, especially in those kinds of socialism which would improve the material conditions of people as well make use of traditional elements of African culture.
    Also, there is the classical division between socialism called ‘utopian’, and Marxist or ‘scientific’ socialism.
    In utopian socialism, there have always existed certain Christian currents of thought. And these are called Christian with reason, although there are some ambiguities in labelling socialism as ‘Christian’, because of the delicate problem of applying the word ‘Christian’ to any political, social or economic structure or pattern of thought.
    Now Marxism socialism too has recently captivated some Christian thinkers. They with to study it, to understand it, and then join with Marxists in a common fight to build a more just order. Pope Paul VI referred to this in 1971: “While, through the concrete existing form of Marxism, one can distinguish various aspects and the questions they pose for the reflection and activity of Christians, it would be illusory and dangerous…to fail to note the kind of totalitarian and violent society to which this process leads” (OCTOGESIMA ADVENIENS 34).
    Marxism has definite forms. Its basic philosophy is an atheistic one, as is shown in Marxist writings: “Religion is incompatible with Communism by its very essence, by its very anti-scientific and exploiting nature” (Science and Religion. Moscow N. 4 April, 1961). “A Marxist must be a materialist i.e. an enemy of Religion” (“Lenin Works. Vol. 15 pp.376-378). This is main difficulty for the Christian sympathiser.
    Some, even Christians, have thought it possible to embrace Marxism without its atheism; and that the Marxist might be separated from this atheism without losing his force or his efficacy. Few, however, are the Marxists themselves who have agreed with them in this position. Atheism is an essential element of Marxism. For the Marxist, all religion is an alienation; it is a human creation; it is an illusion; and it ought to be made to disappear either by a bloody persecution or by a progressive suffocation. In the words of the late Chairman Mao: “Communism may form an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal united front for political action with certain idealist or even religious followers, but we can never approve their idealisms or religious doctrine” (WORKS OF MAO-TSE-TUNG, Vol. II, p.155).
    There remains a possible doubt: is the God whom the Marxist rejects, the true God, or is he merely a caricature of the God of the liberal bourgeois mentality? Would the proclamation of the true God, of the God of the Gospels, stripped of those conventional trappings which historically have over-laid the idea of God, appeal to the Marxist and win his approval? There are few signs today that this might happen. The convinced Marxist rejects the very idea of God. (Cf. H. de Lubac, The Drama of Atheistic Humanism, 1941).
The end and the means
    A basic principle, in practice, of atheistic communism is that the end – which in the context is the Party cause – justifies any means. Those things which serve the cause are good; whatever goes against the cause is evil. As Lenin said: “We deny all morality that is drawn from some concept beyond men, beyond class.” (Lenin Works, Vol. 31, p. 266).
    This cynical and implacable conduct is a permanent threat to those who would resist; it is also a tempting weapon for anyone to employ in his won resistance. It is always an obstacle to true peace.
    Both in its beliefs and in its methods, communism goes directly against the Gospel. We ourselves hold only one rule of conduct – that of the Gospel beatitudes. It is in accord with these that we resist communism . We are convinced that ultimately the only way to conquer communism in honesty to accept those parts of truth for which communism also fights. We refuse to employ the weapons of the communist, weapons which we repudiate. We believe in the force of the Spirit and in the final victory of faith and of love.
    Some will say that we are naïve. Others will think that we are weak. Some even may call accomplices. Nevertheless, we believe that it is the power of God which strengthens the weakness of the man who believes and obeys Him.
    There is a messianic factor in communism which gives it an undeniable force in its world-struggle. The communist assumes the role of  a prophet infallibly announcing the redemption of all humanity and proffering help to all in their battle against oppression.
    It is to this messianic Marxist triumphalism, both humanist and atheist as it is, that the Christian must oppose his own faith. Pope Paul tells us that: “…man can organise the world apart from God, but without God man can organise it in the end only to man’s detriment.” (POPULORUM PROGRESSIO 42).
    Marxism is also a complete denial of the spiritual world of the African. As an atheist Messianism, Marxism sweeps away all the religious values of African culture.
Communists and Communism
    Are Christians anti-communists? The Christian does not fight against people. Those who consider us as enemies, we refer to the Word of the Lord that we should love them, respect them and serve them. They are our brothers.
    What we do fight against is error. We fight communism rather than communists. We are anti-communist to the extent that communism goes against God, against the Gospel, against the Church, and against man. Of Marxist communist as an economic system, as a sociology, as a philosophy of history, there are some points that can be accepted. And this is done every day by men who are in no sense Marxists. But as Christians, we are quite unable to accept the doctrine that states that God does not exist, and that religious faith is nothing but a cynical by-product of superstition or oppression. We cannot allow the service of any merely human cause to be the final and supreme measure of right and wrong, calling on expediency to justify every abuse and crime.
    Never must the people of this country, nor those of the African continent, give up their faith in the Gospel. Those who imply, even those they do not say so, that the liberation of men and the establishment of justice must come from atheism are guilty before God and men of a gross and criminal deception of their fellow men, as history can show. The irresistibly force which draws men of this country to seek justice and equality will lead them to a way inspired by faith and love.
    We are anti-communist in the sense that we have explained. But we do not approve of every form of anti-communism. There are those who use anti-communism as a cover to pass off counterfeit ideas and attitudes which are bad as the very communism which they pretend to fight.
    Anti-communist fever actually helps communism by suggesting that the fight against communism consists essentially in fighting against the communists. This is not so. The true fight against communism lies in eliminating the causes which bring it about, in changing the situation in which it has developed, in offering a worthwhile alternative in its place. Often, too, the same anti-communists are those who create and intensify conditions which generate the evil which they pretend to fight.
    It is fostering communism to label as communists all those who fight for the dignity of men, for justice, and for participation in Government for all citizens. This way of acting renders a double service to communism. It confers upon it the moral prestige which belongs to the Gospel which the communists reject; and at the same time it damages the reputation of those Christians and anti-communists who offer the sole valid, Christian alternative to the communism and totalitarianism which they are striving to overthrow.
    To think that any means at all is permissible when it is used in the fight against communists, that “the end justifies the means”, is to adopt the same moral standard which we denounce in them. St. Paul supplies a different tactic: “Never repay evil with evil… If your enemy is hungry, you should give him food … Resist evil and conquer it with good” (Rm. 12:17-21).

The idols
    Marxism tries to replace God by making an idol of the proletariat. Christianity rejects all idols. To know how to respect and serve people, a man has first to believe in God; and to know that each individual person, great or small, whatever his race, is a child of that one and only God.
    Capitalism and liberalism also have their idols. Those idols are money and liberty. For the Christian, money and liberty and means to help man what he ought to be; nothing more.
    We want a world of free men and we want them to have what they need for their full development. History has demonstrated that when money becomes an idol, many men will lack it; and that when liberty is made an idol, many men will be enslaved.
    It is faith in God that makes man truly just and human and free.
False and true liberty
    The obedience of all to the law of God is the sole protection of freedom for the poor and the weak; only this can check the domination and the abuses of the rich and powerful. This is a constant theme in the pages of the Bible.
    The Gospel makes men free. The mark which the Church has made on the world is the mark of freedom. The Church continues the work of Christ who came to save, to free men from sin and slavery, from misery and from oppression. The Church continues to preach the same means – obedience to the Father of holiness, of truth, of justice and of peace.
    The Church has always defended authority because it is necessary for the freedom of all. But for those who exercise it, it also demands submission to the law and the assurance that they do not make themselves the final arbiters “between good and evil”.
Economic liberalism
    Liberalism is a false idea of liberty. Even so, it has certain good points of value in the battle which it wages against the excesses and abuses of authority at all levels.
    Historically, it has had disastrous effects in the economic and social fields. Without any doubt, total economic liberty, together with the lust for money and power, created, in its time, a material prosperity in which even the workers may have shared. But the cost in human values was out of proportion. In Europe and elsewhere, great numbers of people were swallowed up in slavery and misery. The inequalities among the people became intolerable, and the class war escalated. I modern times these inequalities have transcended the borders of a particular country and have brought about a situation of dependence of many underdeveloped countries upon the economic manipulations of a few super-powers. This modern form of capitalism, labelled as neo-colonialism, is also an obstacle to peace.
    Furthermore, the twentieth century is discovering to its concern that the goods of this world are limited; that the abundance of the few thrives upon the poverty of the many; that the rich countries batten on the poor, and that within each country, the rich are rich, at least in part, because the poor are poor. It is also possible that the world of today is living on the wealth of tomorrow, squandering the irreplaceable heritage of future generations. It is necessary to secure a reasonable exploitation of the country’s resources today, but without jeopardising the future of those yet unborn.
Man and the economic life
    Man is the source, the centre and the purpose of economic life. The Second Vatican Council taught: “The fundamental purpose of productivity must not be the mere multiplication of products. It must not be profit or domination. Rather , it must be service of man, and indeed of the whole man. Economic activity is to be carried according to its methods and laws but within the limits of morality, so that God’s plan for mankind can be realized.” (GAUDIUM ET SPES 64).
    Economics is a science worthy of respect. But as with the other sciences, it should be subordinated to the needs of man and to his service. The way to avoid economic and social miseries is to listen to the voice of those who suffer and to give special heed to those suffer most.
Economic life and participation
    When visiting the village of Mengo Uganda, in 1969, Pope Paul VI praised the deep sense of community of the African people as one of their attractive and human characteristics.
    He then went on to say: “In a village everyone knows his neighbours, and all feel that they are brothers. Each one works together for the common good, tills the common land, celebrates common traditions. The work is hard, and the reward is small; but the lot of those go to the cities is much more difficult and more dangerous. Pope John said that workers on the land must not have an inferiority complex or consider themselves less important. He also said, however, that you must continue to ask for essential services, such as road, transportation, communications, drinking water, housing, medical care, education, vocational training, religious assistance and also recreation …
    The African villager must be helped to become, through concord and union with local and national society, the master of his own destiny and development, given the instruction necessary to undertake his personal responsibilities.”
    In economic life, as in other fields of human culture, the traditional values of community life should be preserved while making suitable adaptation to present-day circumstances and the needs of the age.
    “If a conflict should arise between acquired private rights and primary community needs, it is the responsibility of public authorities to look for a solution with the active participation of individuals and communities (POPULORUM PROGRESSIO 23).
Christ and the poor
    “The poor you will always have with you”, so said Jesus in Bethany shortly before he died (Jn. 12:8). Knowing what is in man, Christ knew that there will never be perfect justice nor perfect charity nor an end to suffering. There will always be someone to care for, to help, to console.
    Today we try to go to the root of economic evils, seeking solutions which we hope will be definite rather than temporary and superficial.
    “Pure,unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father,” wrote James the Apostle, “is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it” (1: 27). This echoes the text of Isiah (1: 17): “Learn to do good, search for justice, help the oppressed, be just to the orphan, plead for the widow”, and links up with the words of the prophet Amos: “Let justice flow like water, and integrity like an unfailing stream” (5 :24).
    Rhodesia needs to make an immense effort to produce the economic solidarity and soundness in which all may properly share.

True nationalism
    The Christian teaching on nationalism may be summed up as follows: Nationalism is a true and well-thought-out-out love of one’s country, an expression of fraternal love, of solidarity and service to the common good.
    There are indications in the Gospel that Jesus loved his own small country, so little thought of and mistreated in his time. He shared its destiny, its sufferings, its humiliations. He was completely an Israelite: his physical appearance, his clothes, his language, his customs, the examples which he gave, the stories which he told, his style of speaking, his whole way of life showed that he was a Jew, faithful to his race and to his people.
    As our Lord loved his country, so we love ours and wish it to have peace, prosperity, and a fully representative government in which everyone shares.
A Narrow Nationalism
    Nationalism, like many other good things, can be deformed or distorted. This fact should put us on guard against those dangers which weaken national unity.
    The first deformation is to be found in the narrowing of the scope of true nationalism, when it is reduced to fostering the interests of only one section or group of the inhabitants of the country.
    Some have wished to identify nationalism with an unrestricted adherence to a particular type of government. Or even to a specific ruling party. Others consider true nationalism to be the perpetuation of the spirit and form of a particular historical epoch. The Pioneer Era is a case in point. There are those who attribute a monopoly of nationalism to a single sector of the community, an influential sector, without doubt, but one cannot pretend to exhaust the human reality of the country. No single sector has a monopoly of deciding what the true national interests are.
    Finally, there are those who think that nationalism consists chiefly in venerating symbols such as the flag and the national anthem, and in observing national holidays. Rather than in mere signs and sentiments, nationalism should be expressed in actions, in daily works and tasks, in justice and in solidarity. The Church teaches that: “Citizens should cultivate a loyal spirit of patriotism, but without narrow-mindedness, so that they keep in mind the welfare … of races, peoples, and nations”.(GUDIUM ET SPES 75).
People want to be heard
    When in family, the father decides, commands, and eventually punishes, without listening to the opinion of others, it is a foregone conclusion that the peace of that home will last only as long as fear or infancy lasts. The day will come when the sons will reject such parental authority and will rebel or leave the home. Or they will go out into life diminished.
    True love for one’s country is, as it were, an extension of love for one’s family; it is a love given to a wider family. And that which holds within the narrow circle of the home also holds in the wider community which is the nation.
    Adult people wish to be heard, to take part in discussion and in the decisions which affect their own lives within the national community. People desire to take part. A country is firm and united in so far its citizens feel that they have voice in its affairs. This requires that each citizen be allowed his won opinion and the right to act with full responsibility and without fear in matters that affect him intimately.
    Thirty years ago, Pius XII wrote: “It is among the rights of citizens which found expression in a democracy to express their points of view concerning the duties and sacrifices which are imposed on them, not to be forced to obey without being heard. (CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 1944).
    Let us work to become single people. We should not follow leaders blindly; we should critically examine their true intentions, and the direction in which they are leading us. Is it to a richer, more satisfying life? To a life in which we are masters of our own destiny? Or, is it to new forms of oppression, economic slavery, and unfulfilled hopes?
    In the pursuit of true peace, racism is one of the major obstacles. We have said this many times in our pastoral letters condemning racism as a violation of human rights. Discriminatory legislation is a root cause of violence: no stable peace can be achieved unless all discrimination is effectively removed.
    We respect the words of Paul VI: “Men rightly consider unjustifiable and reject as inadmissible the tendency to maintain or introduce legislation or behaviour systematically inspired by racist prejudice” (OCTOGESIMA ADVENIENS 16).
    Racism is opposed to the Christian concept of man “who is created in God’s likeness and redeemed by Christ. It was he who left us both a heritage and a challenge when he said: “You are all brothers (Mt. 23:8)… The cause is urgent and the hour is late. There must be a precise plan with a definite time-table” (Paul VI, Discourse on Apartheid, 22 may, 1974).
    Another deformation of nationalism is tribalism. It is the competitive and excessive exaltation of one’s own tribe. It seeks to assert its superiority over others.
    The Christian vision is universal, with all men seen as brothers within one family. It is not necessary that my tribe should be superior to other tribes in anything. It is enough that it be faithful to its own identity and purpose, that it contributes what it can to the common cause and receive the contributions of others in a mutual collaboration and exchange.
    All through history tribalism has been the cause of innumerable wars. Among trines as among individuals, dignity is a virtue, and pride is a vice.
    Tribes, like countries, are not close groups. They are but a small part of a wider society: that of the human race. It is not by segregating ourselves from those who are different that we shall preserve our own particular achievements. It is by sharing them that we become richer. It is by spreading Christian values that we shall defend our faith. Refusing to share our achievements is one form of underdevelopment: refusing to learn from others, is another. We should open our minds and hearts to the human values to be found in the language, customs and cultures of the people who are about us.


A. Violence as a fact

The history of humanity is a long procession of violence and sufferings. Man finds it easier to dominate than to convince, to knock down rather than to convert. No one wants to listen to his adversary; to try to understand him, to accept his part of the truth, to refute his part of error. No one wants to examine his won conscience, to recognise his errors, to purify his intentions, to mend his ways.
Because of this, we live a prey to fear and hatred; some are hungry because there is no food; others cannot sleep for fear. Fear and hatred breed further conflict and violence.
There are two types of violence: that which defends, and that which attacks. There is the violence of the revolutionary who attacks the established order; and the violence of the counter-revolutionary defending the ‘status quo’ of the established order.

B. Responsibility for violence

It will not do merely to condemn one form of violence – the physical violence of those who seek to overthrow an established order. The established order itself may be guilty of institutional violence by unjust legislation, and repression.
In 1969 a new constitution was proposed for Rhodesia. We warned: “The divisive and disruptive elements contained in these (constitutional) proposals are not only irreconcilable with the Christian spirit of brotherhood and with the civic duty of promoting national unity, but they are calculated to destroy every possibility of achieving common good …” (A CALL TO CHRISTIANS 1969).
When an authority has consistently violated essential rights of citizens, and when promises of redress have remained unfulfilled, it is that authority itself which bears the heaviest responsibility for the violence which may break out.
We have often pointed out that it is more important to eradicate the causes of violence than merely to denounce violence itself. It is more important to eliminate the injustice of racial discrimination  than to condemn violent acts which spring from it.

C. The dilemma of violence

Every Christian must be a pacifist in the sense of being a peacemaker as well as being a lover of peace, but a refusal to resist evil by physical force is not always praiseworthy. It is not possible to impose the obligation of absolute pacifism on everyone. If we are responsible for the safety of others, we are bound to defend them. It is impossible for the Church to declare that no Christian has a right to fight for his country, his people or his home.
The Church has taught for centuries that the overthrow of even a legally constituted government can be justified by the three presence of the three following conditions:
  1. if there be on the part of the government grave and prolonged violation of the rights of the subject;
  2. if all constitutional methods of obtaining redress have been seriously tried and have failed;
  3. if there be a reasonable prospect of success and of setting up an objectively better government.
It is not for us to judge those who come to the conclusion that these conditions were fulfilled in Rhodesia, and who have taken it upon themselves to work for change through force.
Granted the possibility of such a conscientious decision, it does not follow that all means of  working for change are legitimate. Here again a good end does not justify a bad means; it never can. We therefore condemn outright the indiscriminate killing of innocent people, the brutal and barbarous mutilations, the acts of torture, and of physical and moral intimidation. The fact that such acts have been committed in the name of liberation or defence, or for the maintenance of law and order, in no way makes them less wrong. No good intention will ever justify murder or robbery or torture or cruelty or racial discrimination.
On the other hand, as Christians we cannot exaggerate the need for promoting non-violent methods of helping oppressed people wherever they are. In these situations we ask: has every peaceful means possible been adopted and tried? Has a consistent and coherent strategy for obtaining justice with non-violent means been developed? Can the people be mobilised into non-violent action for justice and reconciliation?

D. Reconciliation

Christ can reconcile divided people. As Paul said to the ‘Jews’ and ‘Gentiles’ of his time divided by hatred: “Christ is the peace between us, and has made the two into one and broken down the barrier which used to keep them apart, actually destroying in his won person the hostility” (Eph. 2: 24).
Christ today can reconcile the black and the white, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, the atheist and the believer. To evangelise, to preach the Gospel, to fulfil our mission of pastors, is to work for peace.
Peace for the Christian does not consist in crushing violence in the name of the established ‘order’, when it is, in reality, an established ‘disorder’. It does not consist in renouncing the eternal battle of man fro truth, for justice, for liberty, for equality, for the participation of all in those things which concern all. It does not consist in force, or in fear, or in the balance of fears and forces, a balance which is nothing but weakness.
Peace for the Christian consists in permanent efforts not only to disarm violence and hatred but also to build up justice with love.
Following Vatican II, “those with talent … forgetting their own convenience and material interests should engage in political activity. They must combat injustice and oppression with integrity and wisdom.” (GAUDIUM ET SPES 75).
It will be the noble task of men of politics in Rhodesia to take a creative part in the forming of a new government and constitution. Their work will be difficult, but valuable and rewarding. On their efforts will depend the well being and happiness of all present citizens as well as future generations.


A. Happy the peacemakers!

“Happy the peacemakers, they shall be called the sons of God” (Mt. 5: 9).
Who are the peacemakers?
Who on the last day, will be recognised as ‘sons of God’?
They are those who are at peace with themselves. And those who are at peace with God. Interior peace is a gift of God to souls who are humble and who have good will.
“Happy the man who never follows the advice of the wicked, or loiters on the way that sinners take, or sits about with scoffers, but finds his pleasure in the law of Yahweh, and murmurs his law day and night. He is like a tree that is planted by water streams, yielding its fruits in season, its leaves never fading, success attend all he does.” (Ps. 1: 1-3).
The peacemaker is the man who respects his neighbour. Respect is the first manifestation of justice.
Respect for men must be entire: either one respects all men or respects none: either one respects the whole man or respects him not at all.
The peacemaker is the man who seeks justice, “with hunger and thirst” (Mt. 5:6), as a hungry man seeks food and drink. He seeks that justice which goes against him; the justice which he is used to, and the justice which is part of the established order as well as that which disrupts it.

The peacemaker is the humble man who recognises his errors and his limitations, who knows how to apologise, and how to recover and retrace his steps.

The peacemaker has no enemies. He does not know how to hate or to bear grudge. He knows how to forgive without giving offence.
The peacemaker is the man who loves whomever he meets.
The peacemaker above all is the one who seeks solutions. He dreams utopias, tries to persuade men to unite in hope and in a splendid vision for the future.
The peacemaker is a man who is unafraid. He lives and does battle in the sight of God, confident that justice and peace will prevail in the end.
At the Last Supper, as he bade farewell to his disciples, the Lord said: “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I will give to you, a peace which the world cannot give” (Jn. 14: 27).
The peace of Christ is not the peace that man offers. It comes from a secret source which man must make an effort to discover. “Anyone who drinks the water that I give will never be thirsty again … It will turn into a spring inside him welling up to eternal life.” (Jn. 4: 14).

B. Our hope for peace

Speaking in 1969 to the Parliament of Uganda, Pope Paul VI said: “We believe that, today, conflicts between people can be resolved by a better and more efficacious way than the way of violence. Human relations must not be regulated by the confrontation of forces unleashed for slaughter  and destruction, but by reasonable negotiations …”.
We ask our Catholic community and all people of good will to create around them a spirit of forgiveness, trust, hope, and solidarity. We urge all to pray earnestly for peace in our country.


Decree of the Pastoral office of Bishops in the Church. Second Vatican Council, 28 October 1965
On Preaching the Gospel. Apostolic Exhortation, Paul IV, 8 December 1975
Peace on Earth. Encyclical Letter, John XXIII, 11 April 1963
The Development of  Peoples. Encyclical Letter, Paul VI, 26 March 1967
Social problems. Apostolic Letter, Paul VI, May 1971
Declaration on Religious Liberty. Second Vatican Council, 7 December 1965
Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the modern World. Second Vatican Council, 7 December 1965
Pius XII
Christmas Message, 1944
Paul VI
Discourse to United Nations, 1964
Speech to Uganda Parliament, 1969
Discourse in Uganda, 1969
Discourse on Apartheid, 1974
Pastoral Message of  Rhodesia Catholic Bishops’ Conference, 5 June 1969