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British priest forced to flee Zimbabwe

A priest based in the UK has been forced to flee to a safe house after being arrested three times in Zimbabwe by President Robert Mugabe's security police, the Bishop of Plymouth Diocese said yesterday.

Bishop Christopher Budd strongly condemned the treatment of Fr Patrick "P J" Kelly a priest of the Plymouth Diocese who has been working in Zimbabwe.

A spokesman for the diocese said Fr Kelly, who was born in Tubbercurry, County Sligo, Ireland, had been interrogated on three occasions by Mr Mugabe's Central Intelligence Organisation, who accused him of promoting "opposition politics".

He was then visited by so-called war veterans who ordered him to "stop spreading subversive politics" or leave his parish of St Gabriel's, Nyanga, in the Diocese of Mutare, eastern Zimbabwe, he added.

"Fr P J has always been on the side of the people and would not agree to stop speaking the truth about justice in Zimbabwe." said Bishop Budd. "Therefore, he has been forced to leave his parish for his personal safety."

"I have spoken to Fr P J on the phone and he told me that a member of his parish was beaten up by the Central Intelligence Organisation after being interrogated."

Fr Kelly was ordained in 1967 and worked in the parish of St Peter's, Crownhill, Plymouth, for four years before going to the Diocesan African Mission in Kenya in 1971.

Diocese of Plymouth


28 Aug 2002