Friday, July 14, 2006

They suffered like the people (Jesuit Priests and Dominican Nuns)

Before any missionaries were killed in Rhodesia there were isolated instances of individual terrorist leaders demonstrating anti- religious views. A piece of rhetoric, left at the scene of an unsuccessful bridge demolition near a mission, closed with the words "Down with Christ." Subsequent to the first killings, in May 1977, a terrorist leader told missionaries: "If the Jews had not killed Christ, I would have done it myself." Other missionaries were told by terrorists not to mention Christ and His resurrection in the course of preaching. It has been pointed out that this restriction is ominously akin to similar impositions made upon the Russian churches. In another incident, the Roman Catholic Church was described as representing the evils of capitalism.

On the night of February 6, 1977, seven Catholic missionaries were massacred by the rebels for no reason at all. According to a survivor, the rebels killed the missionaries without saying anything. Those who were killed are four Dominican nuns and three Jesuit priests.

Fr. Myerscough, the only one who survived the massacre, narrated the events that happened. According to him, the rebels rounded up the white missionaries, ignoring the black staff and sisters. After they were rounded up, they were brought to an abandoned place a short distance from the mission. The missionaries were unaware of what will happen to them until three of the rebels opened fire. The missionaries began to run for safety. According to Fr. Myerscough, after the shooting stopped, he saw the seven dead.

Fr. Myerscough is aware of the reason why his fellow missionaries were killed. He said that the murders were “obviously the result of Russian indoctrination. In my opinion, if you want proof the Communists are behind this, come to the mission. The terrorists must have been got at to have that brutality in them." According to the police, more than 100 cartridge cases fired from Russian-made rifles and a machine-gun were found in the murder scene.

It is not known from what group did the murderers of the missionaries come from, but they probably came from the rebel groups. According to those who knew the murdered missionaries, they are not interested in knowing who the real murderers are. For them, what is important is that the missionaries are aware of the dangers that they might face and they persevered in remaining with the people. Finally, they suffered like the people.


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