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Mugabe at the beatification: a diplomatic test for the Vatican

Catholic World News - May 02, 2011

The attendance of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe at the beatification of Pope John Paul II posed a diplomatic problem for the Vatican, since the African leader has been roundly condemned by world leaders--and by the Catholic bishops of his own country--for corruption, mismanagement, and violations of human rights.

However, while the Vatican could have refused to admit Mugabe, such a step would have major diplomatic repercussions, notes Father Alexander Lucie-Smith. And in this case the issue goes beyond normal diplomatic questions, since the Holy See is not just another nation-state. At what point, if any, does the Church announce that someone is unwelcome at Mass?

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  • Posted by: Obregon - May. 02, 2011 10:47 PM ET USA

    Well, even Hitler wanted once to visit the Vatican, but Pius XI shut down the place and left for Castelgandolfo. However, with the beatification of Blessed John Paul II, Benedict was in no position to do to Mugabe what Pius XI did to Hitler.

  • Posted by: Wolf of Gubbio - May. 02, 2011 6:30 PM ET USA

    In the old days, only Catholics were allowed to witness the Mass of the faithful, with all others having to leave the church after the Mass of Catechumens. Now, anybody can attend the whole Mass, but those in manifest public grave sin must be excluded from Holy Communion.

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