Vatican 'forced' anti-Mugabe archbishop to resign: report

Harare, Zimbabwe - Former archbishop Pius Ncube, a leading critic of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe who resigned after an adultery scandal, was forced out by the Vatican, a news report said Wednesday.

In an article headlined "Pius forced to resign", the state-run Herald newspaper said Ncube, 60, whose resignation as archbishop of Zimbabwe's second largest city Bulawayo was announced on Tuesday, had been pressured to leave by the Vatican.

"(Ncube) has been forced to resign by the Vatican," reported the paper, which in July published some allegedly compromising pictures, claiming to depict the Bulawayo archbishop having sex with the wife of another man.

It said the pictures were taken secretly with cameras set up by a private investigator hired by the woman's husband to secure evidence of the alleged adultery. He is now suing Ncube for 20 billion Zimbabwe dollars (160,000 US dollars).

"Roman Catholic priests are sworn to a vow of celibacy," the Herald pointed out on Wednesday.

It said his "forced resignation is a slap in the face of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference which last month made an impromptu attempt to defend him in his alleged adulterous affair with Mrs (Rosemary) Sibanda."

Last month, nine Catholic bishops expressed support for Ncube hailing him as a courageous "exposer of evils" by Mugabe's government.

Ncube, who has been head of the Bulawayo Diocese since 1998, said his move was intended to save the church from further attacks and enable him to challenge the adultery charge in court in his private capacity.

"I have not been silenced by the crude machinations of a wicked regime. I am committed to promoting the social teachings of the Church and working among the poorest and most needy in Zimbabwe," he added.