Despite ban in EU, Mugabe in Vatican for beatification

He’s cracked down on aid organizations and has had human rights violations, torture, and killing all pegged to him. The primates of the Anglican Communion singled out his “total disregard for life” and asked him to observe 2008 election results in his own country by stepping down from office.

The Archbishop of York compared him to Idi Amin. He’s certainly unwelcome anywhere in the European Union.

Yet Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was at the Vatican for the beatification ceremony of Pope John Paul II yesterday, meaning he skirted his European ban in order to land in Rome, CNN reports.

Vatican officials played Sargeant Schulz to Mugabe’s Colonel Klink.

The Vatican did not personally invite Mugabe to the Sunday event, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi of the Holy See Press office.

But a diplomatic relationship exists between Zimbabwe and the Vatican, a sovereign state that is not a member of the European Union.

“It (the Vatican) cannot tell Mugabe not to come if he wants to take part, just like it wouldn’t tell no to (U.S. President Barack) Obama or (French President Nicolas) Sarkozy, if they had wanted to come,” Lombardi said.

“Diplomatic relationship”? Yeah … about that:

It was revealed amid some embarrassment that the dignitaries expected to file past the casket on Sunday morning will include Mr Mugabe. His presence, explained a Vatican spokesman, was a “function” of the diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Zimbabwe, “so there is nothing to hide”.

Mr Mugabe is the subject of an EU-wide travel ban and the Vatican had to obtain special permission for him to be allowed to enter the pocket statelet. It will be at least the third time that Mr Mugabe has taken advantage of the Vatican’s and/or Italy’s diplomatic largesse since John Paul’s death.

[emphasis ours]

Mugabe, of course, has treated Anglicans in Zimbabwe with such violent contempt that the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote to him in January calling for an end to the madness. Williams wrote:

We are convinced that the unmerited, unjust, and unlawful persecution of the members of the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe damages further the good name and reputation of the Republic of Zimbabwe and results in untold and unnecessary additional suffering for many thousands of people.

What’s more maddening? To hear that Mugabe slipped the surly bonds of Africa and Europe to literally cross the Tiber and honor John Paul? Or to hear that the Vatican thinks it’s got its hands tied and needs to host him?

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