The Roman Catholic Church has been thrown into mourning following the death of one of its most revered clerics, Bishop Xavier Munyongani who was buried at Driefontein Mission on Friday.

Munyongani, who was ordained in September 2013 was arguably the church's greatest moralist, who criticised fellow clerics and government alike for corruption and immoral behaviour.

He was also one of the most compelling preachers in the church with the latitude to spice his sermons with songs from other churches like Anglican and the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe.

Munyongani, who was fondly referred to as bishop of the people, had, as a new diocese head, revived hopes of a Catholic Church that would stand up to government in defence of the rights of the weak and poor as he used every sermon to attack greed, corruption and even President Robert Mugabe for brutality and the way he has brought Zimbabwe down to its knees.

In one of his sermons and in apparent reference to Mugabe, Munyongani said it was unusual for people to get more ruthless as they get old. He said instead, they become more like children who are filled with love.

Last year, he made a scathing attack on fellow bishops whom he accused of bringing down the church in Zimbabwe. He said greedy black bishops have destroyed mission schools that were once rich with cattle, good hospitals and schools because of their plunder of wealth.

"These mission schools, hospitals and churches were doing very well under white bishops. The problem came when we appointed these bishops of our black skin. They have plundered everything and left the church on its knees and limping)," Munyongani said when he opened a Catholic couples' conference held in Masvingo last year.

He also castigated tribalism and said his mission in the Midlands Diocese was to ensure that there was genuine love and unity between the country's main tribes, the Shona and the Ndebele people.

The social media was this week abuzz with condolence messages from across the churches, expressing great shock and deep grief.

To demonstrate what Christians should go through in defence of their belief, Munyongani always preached about a member of the Guild of Anna when she faced death at the hands of her persecutors during the liberation struggle asked that she be allowed to put on her church uniform first before she was thrown into a fire.

Apparently the woman was killed in Chirumhanzu.

Munyongani was born in Gutu at Mutero Mission in 1950.

Source: Masvingo Mirror

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