RelZim.org articles about Roman Catholics in Zimbabwe
Roman Catholics in Zimbabwe number about one million (about 8% of the population) and are organized into eight dioceses. After occasional missionary efforts in earlier centuries, Catholic religious orders have been continuously present in Zimbabwe since 1879.
Social and Pastoral Work
Roman Catholics in Zimbabwe are widely engaged in secondary and higher education, missionary hospitals, social centers and crafts centers. The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) at Africa Synod House in Harare directs national Catholic agencies in these areas, including the Catholic Education Commission, Caritas Zimbabwe, the Bishops’ Health Commission, and the HIV and AIDS Desk. Pastoral projects involving clergy, laity and youth are coordinated by the National Pastoral Center.
The Social Communications Commission publishes Catholic Church News magazine.
Much social ministry is done by religious orders and lay groups. A fuller description with lists of individual institutions can be found under the Social Ministry and Education sections of this site.
The Catholic Church in Zimbabwe is particularly active in promoting civil rights and political participation, especially by means of the Catholic Commission of Justice and Peace. Legislative issues are addressed by the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office.
Dioceses and Bishops
The Zimbabwean Bishops form, as their co-coordinating body, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC), which was constituted in 1969. They are also part of the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa and the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar. The Roman Catholic Church in Zimbabwe is an observer member of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches.
The conference currently has nine active bishops who lead the eight dioceses:
- Archdiocese of Harare, led by Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu
- Archdiocese of Bulawayo, led by Archbishop Alexander Thomas Kaliyanil, S.V.D.
- Diocese of Chinhoyi, led by Bishop Dieter Scholz, S.J.
- Diocese of Gokwe, led by Bishop Angel Floro Martínez, I.E.M.E.
- Diocese of Mutare, led by Bishop Alexio Churu Muchabaiwa and Auxiliary Bishop Patrick Mumbure Mutume
- Diocese of Gweru, led by Bishop Xavier Munyongani
- Diocese of Hwange, led by Bishop José Alberto Serrano Antón, I.E.M.E
- Diocese of Masvingo, led by Bishop Michael Dixon Bhasera
The Zimbabwe Catholic Community in England and Wales is formally established and registered under the jurisdiction of the Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster and falls under the direct responsibility of Bishop Alan Hopes. The Community is led by Monsignor X. J. Munyongani, Chaplain to Zimbabwean Catholic Community. The community, across that country, celebrates Holy Mass throughout the month on a rotational basis in Ndebele and Shona. The Zimbabwe Catholic Society of Dallas-Fort Worth also maintains a sit.
The seminarians of all the dioceses first attend a preparatory spiritual year at the pre-Seminary at Mazoe, then study philosophy at St. Augustine Seminary in Bulawayo and finally earn degrees in theology at Chishawasha Seminary, which now grants degrees through the Catholic University of Zimbabwe.
The Catholic Church first attempted to evangelize in Zimbabwe when the Jesuit priest, Goncalo de Silveria, reached the Munhumutapa’s capital in 1560. In the 17th century Dominicans worked among traders in north-east Zimbabwe but when the Portuguese were driven from the country by the Changamire in 1693 this work came to an end.
The modern Church in Zimbabwe has its beginnings in the Zambezi Mission run by the Society of Jesus. A forward station was established at Gubulawayo in 1879, but little progress was made and in 1889 the Jesuits withdrew from the country. They returned in 1890 with the British forces, Father Hartmann accompanying the Pioneer Column as chaplain and Father Prestage accompanying the Dominican nuns who came up as nurses. The work in nursing and education undertaken by the Dominicans was an essential part of the early expansion of the Church. The Jesuits established Chishawasha mission near Harare and Driefontein mission near Masvingo.