RHODESIA'S Catholic bishops have now issued their full statement made to the Smith administration giving their reasons nor opposing the Residential Property Owners (Protection) Rill, 1971. They said they would be making further representations.
The Bill seeks to empower the government to declare that certain residential areas which by tradition are European, Asian or Coloured in character, are for the exclusive use of one or other of these communities.
In other words, these three racial groupings would be segregated from each other in the declared areas, and Africans would be excluded from all of them.
The statement, issued after the Bishops' Conference had studied a departmental draft of the Bill published at the end of last month, says:
"The Minister of Local Government and Housing first proposed such legislation in a statement in Parliament on June 1, 1967. This was the occasion of a 'public statement made by the Catholic Bishops of Rhodesia issued on June 13, 1967.
"In their statement the bishops protested against the then proposed legislation on religious grounds, in that it was discriminatory on the basis of race alone, thereby diminishing Christian justice and charity, and bringing dishonour on a professedly Christian country. ,
"In spite of the many modifications of the basic intent of the Bill through proposed exemptions and the like, the fundamental purpose of the Bill remains discriminatory on grounds of race alone. The bishops, therefore, see no reason for altering the views expressed by them in 1967.
CALL TO CHRISTIANS "The Minister of Local Government and Housing has expressed his intention of considering representations from interested parties. The Catholic bishops therefore propose to study the draft Bill in greater detail and with adequate consultation and advice. In due course they will make their views known more explicitly."
The bishops' 1967 statement called on Christians to take a firm stand against legislation restricting residential areas to separate races, and added: "Against even the introduction of such legislation we consider it our duty before God to protest in the strongest possible terms."