Archbishop Custexlio Alvim Pereira of Lourenco Marques has published an article in the local newspaper, Diario, defending the Mozambique hierarchy against accusations that they had not denounced massacres.
He declared that political independence was outside the sphere of the Church, which could not take a stand on it. But he said the Church intervened in individual cases to defend the rights of man and to fight injustice and atrocities.
He said the accusations brought against the Mozambique bishops of "not being on the side of the so-called liberation movements" were "infamous," The bishops could not be on their side "on any grounds, even if only because of the atrocities which these movements have perpetrated." The archbishop deplored that Catholic priests and conscientious laymen could be such partisans, and added "or rather, I understand very well. They are for the revolution even if it is supported by international communism . . .
"Thcy would like the Church to be involved in political and social questions, for they consider Jesus Christ a poor liberator in the human sense."
Referring to the alleged massacres at Wiryamu, the archbishop deplored that people so easily believed in them and availed themselves of them as a weapon to attack Portugal. "I am certain that some (massacres) took place and that they will continue to take place, although what has been said is obviously exaggerated. And I am also certain that our soldiers are not saints capable of controlling themselves when faced with other atrocities. They should not commit them and everyone deplores them sincerely.
"But has one ever in this world seen a country attacked for the barbarities of a few of its soldiers committed in moments of hallucination? It was never seen but one sees it now. Everything serves to attack Portugal, and what is terribly tragic is that Christian people and priests are involved."