Zimbabwe's Mugabe Accuses Priest Critic of Adultery
Today's Top Five
1. Zimbabwe government attacks Pius Ncube, its chief critic
Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube has been heralded around the world for his brave opposition to Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe. Last month, he made headlines for saying Britain would be justified in invading the country to oust Mugabe. "We should do it ourselves but there's too much fear. I'm ready to lead the people, guns blazing, but the people are not ready," he told the London Times.
In that same interview, Ncube noted that Mugabe had spent millions of dollars on surveillance equipment. "How can you expect people to rise up when even our church services are attended by state intelligence people?"
Now Mugabe is saying that some surveillance equipment caught Ncube in an extramarital affair. Government run newspapers this week published hidden camera photos purporting to show Ncube with a married woman. The woman's husband is reportedly suing the archbishop for Z$20 billion (about $82.7 million in the official exchange rate; but more like $180,000 on the actual black market rate).
Ncube so far isn't saying much in response. "I will not answer this question concerning my private life," he told the state-run television service. "Yes, I did take a vow. There are a whole lot of other circumstances that take place in a person's life. I would not be able to answer those items." He also said, "We all have weaknesses. That's why when we pray we ask God for forgiveness."
Sounds bad, but Ncube's attorney says the archbishop will deny the allegations in court, and The Times of London, at least, is skeptical. "The only photographs indisputably of Archbishop Ncube picture him alone. Others are blurred, and one allegedly of him standing naked does not appear to resemble him at all," the paper says.
Mugabe, meanwhile, is smug about the photos, which ran in his Zimbabwe Herald under the headline, "Pius Ncube Shamed."
"I can also do what Pius Ncube did, but I never vowed to remain celibate," he told reporters, smiling, as he attended a televised state funeral. (Mugabe's affair with his secretary is rather notorious.) "Having vowed to remain celibate before God, please keep your faith, my friend. This business of taking other people's women is not a good game."
2. Speaking of sex scandals
Washington is still talking about Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican who admitted committing "serious sin" when he was tied to a reported prostitution ring.
"The first reaction one should have is not laughter, but sadness, sadness for him, his wife and their four children," says columnist Cal Thomas. "The second reaction is how could he have been so stupid? Not all sins are exposed in this life, but the higher the profile, the more likely exposure will occur, especially if it involves our national preoccupation with sex."
Over in The Washington Post, Pamela Druckerman argues, "The changing way we treat politicians' infidelity reflects the changing way we handle such affairs in our own lives. The country may have caught up with the Clintons. The latest thinking from therapists and religious groups is that affairs need not be a marital death sentence."
But perhaps the oddest piece comes in Newsweek, as Susannah Meadows interviews Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. The deck: "How does news of an outspoken Christian senator's fall from grace play in the evangelical community?" The first question: "As an evangelical, what is it like for you when yet another story breaks about a self-righteous, 'family values' Christian caught cheating on his wife with another woman or man?" Later questions:
"What was the conversation like among evangelicals when the news broke about Vitter?" "Do you cringe when you hear fellow evangelicals moralizing?" And most astoundingly: "Is the movement damaged to the extent that people might leave the church?"
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