Mugabe To Attend Vatican Ceremony Despite EU Ban

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said on Friday that Mugabe was on the list of world leaders who have confirmed their presence.

“Zimbabwe is a state with which the Holy See has diplomatic relations. There is therefore nothing to hide,” he said.

The Vatican is a sovereign state that is not part of the European Union, although Mugabe would have to transit through the Italian capital of Rome.

Mugabe, a Catholic who has been widely condemned for human rights abuses, also attended John Paul II’s funeral in 2005 despite the 2002 travel ban — a visit that drew controversy because Britain’s Prince Charles shook hands with him.

Travelling under United Nations auspices, Mugabe also came to Rome in 2008 for a summit of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

Twenty-two world leaders are expected to attend the ceremony that will put John Paul II on the path to sainthood, the Vatican said.

Lombardi said a total of 87 international delegations would be attending and the leaders would include 16 heads of state and six government leaders.

Five royal families — Belgium, Britain, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Spain — will be represented and the heads of state will include Poland’s Bronislaw Komorowski, Mexico’s Felipe Calderon and Italy’s Giorgio Napolitano.

The Vatican said it had given out 2,300 accreditations for the ceremony, including 1,300 for television stations.

There will be journalists from 101 countries around the world, it said. AFP