Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will attend Sunday’s beatification for the late John Paul II, the Vatican said on Friday
Mugabe, who has ruled his country with an iron fist since 1980, will be one of 22 heads of state and government at the ceremony that will put the Polish-born pontiff on the route to sainthood.
That is despite a ban preventing him from travelling to the European Union.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told the AFP news agency: “Zimbabwe is a state with which the Holy See has diplomatic relations. There is therefore nothing to hide.”
The Vatican is a sovereign state in its own right and is not part of the European Union, although the Zimbabwean leader would need to travel through Rome to get to it.
Pope John Paul II died at the age of 84 on April 2, 2005, after a long battle against Parkinson’s disease. Some three million people went to his funeral mass, which Mugabe also attended.