Pope Francis on Monday met with eight bishops from Zimbabwe at the Vatican and praised them for standing firm even in their faith as the nation shows signs of instability.
The Pope said, "The church in your country has stood fast with her people both before and after independence, now also in the years of overwhelming suffering as millions have left the country in frustration and desperation, as many lives have been lost, so many tears shed.”
The Pope also urged the bishops in Zimbabwe to remain neutral in the country’s conflict. President Robert Mugabe is a Catholic and makes frequent visits to the Vatican.
Father Frederick Chiromba, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference, said the visit is significant.
Meanwhile, three members of the Johanne Masowe Echishanu, accused of brutally attacking police officers last week in Harare’s Budiriro high density suburb, were Monday remanded in custody to June 16 following the incident Friday.
The three – Milton Murira, Dennis Banda and John Mutasa - face public violence charges.
Michael Reza represented the state while the three had no lawyer when they appeared before provincial magistrate Vakai Douglas Chikwekwe.
At least 20 members of the Johanne Masowe Echishanu Apostolic sect led by Madzibaba Ishmael Mufani have now been arrested in connection with the attack on seven police officers, journalists and members of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe last Friday.
Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi on Sunday issued a stern warning against violent sect members whom he said would face the full wrath of the law.