As “racism” takes centre stage in the Roman Catholic St Charles Lwanga Parish in Ruwa (22 km south-east of Harare), parishioners have threatened to wash “dirty linen” in public and expose the priest’s alleged shenanigans.

This followed alleged failed attempts by parishioners to seek audience with Father Fermin Rodriguez to get clarification over the deployment of priests at the centre which they believed was racially motivated.

Some 20 parishioners petitioned Rodriguez to explain why only black priests from the Ruwa church were being relegated to communal churches, while the white ones were sent to better and bigger parishes. “It is our concern that the debate be held in a managed environment in order to avoid the debate spreading beyond damaging parameters. Below is the proposed agenda upon which our request is premised; the redeployment of Father John Bosco Kiyuga, redeployment (return) of Father Louis and composition of priests at St Charles. We have some documents of an explicit nature which are better discussed internally than opening avenues for this to being public debate in the press, internet etc,” the parishioners wrote in a memo copied to Archbishop of Harare Robert Ndlovu.

Contacted for comment, Rodriguez said, “I have nothing to comment on and I cannot talk to you on the phone.” And he switched off the phone.

The parishioners initially signed a petition seeking to engage Rodriguez after their request for an annual general meeting was not entertained. “The Centre priest embarked on a violent crusade against some of the signatories to the request shouting very irresponsible and provocative utterances, denigrating the flag and presidency of the country, Office of the Bishop and the parishioners,” they said.

According to a memo addressed to Roman Catholic Vicar General Kennedy Muguti (dated April, 1 2012), Ruwa parishioners expressed concerns over the conduct of their priest, who happens to be the Centre priest, parish priest and the dean. 

In another memo addressed to the chairperson identified only as Matereke and copied to Rodriguez, the co-ordinator of the Claretian Order in Zimbabwe and the Archbishop of Harare, the parishioners said they were tired of Rodriguez, who allegedly claimed he was answerable to his superiors in Spain through a coordinator and not the archbishop.

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