Zimbabwe: Archbishop of Canterbury Barred From Cathedral, Historic Mission Church

October 11, 2011 7:31 am 0 comments



Published by the government of Zimbabwe

Lovemore Chikova

10 October 2011







Harare — PRESIDENT Mugabe met the visiting Archbishop of Canterbury and central figure in the Anglican Communion Dr Rowan Williams yesterday and criticised sections of the church for condoning homosexuality.

Sources, who attended the meeting at State House that lasted nearly an hour, said the President told Dr Williams that homosexuality was against Christianity.

“The President made it clear that homosexuality was against morals, cultural values and Christian teachings,” said a source.

Dr Williams admitted at a Press conference after meeting President Mugabe that homosexuality was indeed a problem within the church.

He said not everybody accepted it, but the homosexuals “deserved dignity and respect”.

“The church does not allow same sex relationships and that is common ground across the Anglicans,” he said.

“On the practice of homosexuality by bishops in the US and Canada, these are provinces, which do not represent the general line.”

The crisis over homosexuality deepened in the Anglican Church in 2003 when two openly gay men in England and the United States became candidates for bishop.

In the Episcopal Church USA, Gene Robinson, was elected and consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire, becoming the first gay bishop in the Anglican Communion.

Dr Williams presented a dossier to President Mugabe with allegations that some Anglicans were being persecuted by Archbishop Nolbert Kunonga.

Archbishop Kunonga left the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa over its acceptance of homosexuality and now leads the independent Province of Zimbabwe.

The sources said President Mugabe told Dr Williams that the Government and himself were not involved in the fight within the church.

He said some of the issues brought up in the dossier were never presented to him before.

President Mugabe hoped that the two parties within the church engaged each other in dialogue to resolve their differences.

“He said it would be better for everyone if they united. The President said he hoped the Anglican delegation did not come to Zimbabwe under the impression that the disharmony is the act of Government.”

President Mugabe told Dr Williams that the Government had intervened by appointing Vice President John Nkomo to bring the two warring parties together.

But the side led by Bishop of Harare Chad Gandiya, went to court in an attempt to solve the issue.

President Mugabe said the Government would not interfere with the court process.

The sources said President Mugabe said the Anglican Church’s silence on sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western countries led by Britain was surprising.

This was because the sanctions affected members of the church.

“President Mugabe gave Williams the historical background of Zimbabwe touching on the issue of land starting with the discussions with the Conservative government,” said the source.

“He said British Prime Minister Tony Blair refused to honour previous agreements when the Labour Party came into power.”

Dr Williams told journalists that the meeting with President Mugabe was “very candid and good”.

He dismissed Archbishop Kunonga’s assertions that he was breaking away from the church because of homosexuality.

Dr Williams said he did not have evidence that sanctions were hurting the majority.

“They are targeted sanctions,” he said.

“They say that sanctions are causing suffering, but I do not have evidence that they are.”

Dr Williams said his visit was in solidarity with “our Anglican sisters and brothers at the invitation of the local church, the Anglican Province of Central Africa, which includes the five dioceses of Zimbabwe”.

He claimed that Anglicans in Zimbabwe had been facing serious persecution at the hands of the police.

“They have been intimidated,” he said.

“Their churches have been closed. Properties, including schools and clinics, have been seized. We have asked, in the clearest possible terms, that the President uses his powers as Head of State to put an end to all unacceptable and illegal behaviour.”

Dr Williams said he did not have any plans to meet Archbishop Kunonga.

“I did not come to meet Kunonga, but members of our church,” he said.

“Kunonga separated himself in a very ambiguous way. He is not recognised and clearly has an agenda.”

Anglicans led by Archbishop Kunonga demonstrated against Dr Williams’ visit on Sunday.

Archbishop Kunonga said Dr Williams erred by accepting homosexuality and that had broken the church in many countries.

Dr Williams is expected to leave Harare by road early today for Zambia from where he will fly back to England.

He was accompanied by Archbishop of Central Africa Albert Chama, Archbishop of Tanzania Valentino Mukiwa, Archbishop of Southern Africa Thabo Makgoba and Bishop Gandiya.

The Bishop of Manicaland Julius Makoni and Bishop of Botswana Trevor Mwamba were also part of the delegation that met President Mugabe.

Earlier in the day, the archbishop visited Mutare where he had a church service at the Manicaland Show grounds before visiting some churches where he met placard-waving members.

Manicaland has two bishops, Bishop Elson Jakazi and Bishop Makoni.

Bishop Makoni is aligned to the Anglican Church of Province of Central Africa, while Bishop Jakazi is said to have been ex-communicated from the church because of his anti-homosexuality stance.

At the show grounds, he gave a brief address in which he encouraged about 200 people present to remain resolute in their fight over the control of the church in Zimbabwe.

Dr Williams’ attempt to enter the St Johns Cathedral hit a snag after women who were clad in Anglican regalia and holding placards denouncing his visit blocked the gate while signing church hymns.

The Dean of St John’s Cathedral, Reverend Mwando, said their stance against homosexuality would not change and they had not chased anyone from the church.

From the St John’s Cathedral, the convoy drove to the CPCA’s offices along Herbert Chitepo Street, which used to house the Manica Guest Lodge.

From there, they drove to St Augustine’s Mission in Penhalonga where they were met with other placard-waving members who blocked the boom gate to the school.

They had to walk for about 500 metres to access the church, which was locked.

They only managed to have access to the small sisters’ chapel where Dr Williams had a brief prayer.

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