Catholic Priest in Zimbabwe Proposes Synodality in Journeying with Young Drug Addicts

Fr. Simon Mavhiya. Credit: IMBISA

The Church has the Synodal pastoral response at its disposal in accompanying young people who are struggling with drug abuse, a Catholic Priest in Zimbabwe has said.

In his presentation at the webinar that brought together members of the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA), Fr. Simon Mavhiya highlighted various other ways to journey with young people who are addicted to drugs, including peer education, ongoing formation, and adjustment of the curriculum to include topics on the dangers of drug abuse.

On the synodal pastoral response, the Priest who serves as the Vicar General of Zimbabwe’s Gweru Diocese underscored the need of taking an approach that “leaves no one out” in journeying together.

“The Church in her pastoral response and care should take the synodal approach which leaves no one out from being educated and counseled. The gospel against drug and alcohol abuse should be proclaimed to all people both drug addicts and non-drug addicts,” Fr. Mavhiya said.

He added, “Thus people of all ages, both old and young, men and women, people of all religions and cultures, and all people.”


The pastoral response and care of the people of God are tailored, he said in his March 31 presentation, and added, “The rationale here is that drug abuse like other pandemics (like) COVID 19 affects all people, either directly or indirectly.”

Organized under the theme, “Youth drug abuse: an emergent holocaust and the church’s pastoral response”, the webinar brought together participants Catholic Dioceses in the nine countries of IMBISA, including Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Fr. Mavhiya noted that the Church, as “a good Samaritan”, must pay a special focus to those who are already addicted to drugs and alcoholism. 

“We can compare them (drug addicts) to the victim of robbers in the story of the Good Samaritan,” he said, and added, “Drug abusers and addicts are helpless victims. They need therapy and rehabilitation. They need to be accompanied on a journey to redress their past and reclaim their dignity as children of God.”

“Like the Good Samaritan, the Church acts with compassion without blaming the victim. Drug addicts represent the disfigured body of Christ. They need to be transfigured into the image of Christ,” the Catholic Priest said.

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The Church, he said, ought to act like the merciful father, ready to understand the emotional needs of those trapped in drug abuse.

Fr. Mavhiya noted that drug abusers and addicts suffer from bad labeling and stigma.

He explained, “They are known drug addicts, and society tends to exclude them and avoid them. Their past tends to define them. The majority of them lost their career givers and some had family relations broken. The Church like the Merciful Father should look at them as the lost sheep to be found and like the prodigal son coming back to his father’s house.”

The Catholic Priest has also proposed the design of an ongoing comprehensive formation for all ages, which he says should look extensively into topics about human dignity and drug abuse. 

He underscores the need for children from a tender age and young people to be taught the importance of respecting their bodies and those of others. 


Such formation, he says, should be given to both Christian and Non-Christian groupings.

Fr. Mavhiya also proposes that the Church works together with the government and other civic entities on curriculum inclusion of the dangers of drug abuse.

The Catholic Priest proposes that the Church, working in partnership with Governments and other civic organizations, should design a curriculum that caters to all levels of learning.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.