Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We, the bishops of Zimbabwe, write to you today to give thanks for those wonderful days when our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II was with us here in Zimbabwe.
First and foremost we wish to thank the Lord for the strength He has given the Holy Father to undertake this arduous journey. We wish to thank the Lord for all the spiritual gifts lavished upon his people on this great occasion.
We wish to thank the Holy Father himself and all his Roman co-workers for coming to Zimbabwe to bless this young country and give it his message of peace and hope.
We are particularly pleased to be able through this letter to express our gratitude to you our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe, for all the many sacrifices you have made in preparing for the visit of the Holy Father and in actually coming to meet him.
We appreciate the warm welcome.given to the Pope by all our fellow citizens.
We were very touched by the assistance and help we received also from fellow Christians of other churches. We wish to thank them most sincerely. Let us remember the Pope's words to the ecumenical assembly in St John's Cathedral in Bulawayo "You, like Christians throughout the. world, are now walking together along the path that will lead to fullness of communion in Christ. "
We wish to thank the leaders of our country, government, ministries as well as private companies for doing so much to make the visit of the Pope a success. We are most grateful to all those many government representatives, policemen, health workers, transport workers and various technicians for the service they rendered us cheerfully and efficiently. We would like to thank all journalists and media workers for their hard work.
To you all the Pope addressed his personal words of thanks when he bade us farewell at the airport on September13th:
"With gratitude to God, I express to all of you present here and to all the wonderful people of Zimbabwe my joy at having been able to spend these days in your country. My stay was short, but it was intense, filled with prayer, celebration and friendship. I thank you for the warm welcome and fine hospitality with which you received me from the first moment. "
The Holy Father has left, but his inspiration and his words remain with us.
Our theme was COMING TOGETHER IN CHRIST. And, indeed, we have experienced a great oneness, through many ways of cooperating across diocesan boundaries even during those long months of preparations but then especially during those short days of the Holy Father's presence among us.
We are certain that the Church in Zimbabwe has grown and gained strength through our COMING TOGETHER IN CHRIST before and during the papal visit. We have succeeded, with the Lord's helps in completing a task we thought beyond our strength.
Never again will we be able to says "We can't do this. It is too much for us", because we will remember that we did a bigger job before, when the Pope came, and so can do it again.
We must now use this newly-won unity aDd strength to build the Church, fill our families with the love of Christ and our country with the spirit of reconciliation.
Shortly the words of the Holy Father will be available in printed form. We invite you to study and reflect upon the messages of the Holy Father in your families, parish groups and religious communities. Let them guide you in your meditation and prayer. May the Spirit of Our Lord, alive in the Church, enable you to put them into practice.
When addressing the laity, the Holy Father said, "A fitting result of our meeting would be a resolve on your part to study carefully the social and moral doctrine of the Church and to promote its implementation." The Pope has spoken out on a number of important
social and moral issues in recent years, to mention but a few : MARY IN THE PILGRIM LIFE OF THE CHURCH, encyclical letter; MARY AND THE CONSECRATED LIFE , letter to religions; SOCIAL CONCERN, encyclical letter on social development; THE DIGNITY OF WOMAN, apostolic letter just published, about to be printed for readers in Zimbabwe. Those statements and letters, too, we recommend to you for study and prayer.
During this month of October which is specially devoted to Our Lady we would like you to make your own the words of the Pope with which he entrusted our country to Mary the Mother of Christ: "Look upon these sons and daughters of yours, whom I confidently entrust to you today, They have known the horrors of hatred and violence. They hunger for justice and peace. They desire reconciliation and harmony among the tribes and races of Zimbabwe, among all the peoples of the earth."
Archbishop Patirick F Chakadpa, Harare,
Bishop Alexio C Muchabaiwa, Mutare,
Bishop Henry Karlen,Bulawayo
Bishop Ignatius Prietos, Hwange,
Bishop Helmut Reckter, Chinhoyi,
Bishop Patrick M Mutume, Auxiliary Bp of Mutare,
Mgr Francis Mugadzi, Diocesan Administrator, Gweru