THE church in Mozambique is enjoying new freedoms but has still to recover from being caught in the middle of the country's civil war, a Mozambican bishop claimed this week.
Speaking on Vatican Radio, 'Bishop Alberto Setele of Inhambane, south-east Mozambique, said that the church had avoided taking sides during 15 years of fighting. Peace talks between the South African backed Renamo guerrillas and the government in Maputo began last July.
"All those who find themselves between two opposing factions suffer and the church was always a victim of this cross fire — not least because each of the parties claims the support of the Catholic church, "Bishop Setele said.
But the bishop stressed that political objectives can never "justify the deaths of innocents, the destruction of material goods and the high cost paid by Mozambique for this war". And he pointed out that the conflict, which began shortly after the country's independence from Portugal in 1975, was fuelled by regional disputes and economic concerns.
Bishop Setele emphasised that the government had "at least officially" cut its ties with communist and Marxist regimes, and awarded greater freedom to the church. "The church can now work freely in almost all the sectors of national life to develop its social mission among the people of Mozambique," he said.