Archbishop Williams Asks Mugabe to Stop Attacks and Commends Anglicans Suffering from Attacks
On October 12, 2011 At 8:51 am
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According to the Anglican Journal, a breakaway church lead by former bishop Nolbert Kunonga, who formed a "breakaway clique in 2007," attacked and even killed Zimbabwe Anglicans who wished to stay in the Anglican Communion. The reason for the breaking away and attacks is due to the Anglican Church’s stance on homosexuality.
Archbishop Rowan Williams met with Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe on October 10 and asked him to intervene with the excommunicated bishop, who seized the Church’s property and locked out the parishioners from the buildings.
Williams unsuccessfully attempted to present a dossier of the abuses against the members of the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe.
"We were able to present President Mugabe with a dossier compiled by the bishops in Zimbabwe which gives a full account of the abuses to which our people and our church have been subject," Williams told journalists after a nearly two-hour meeting with Mugabe.
The dossier was made public October 11 and it stated, “We respectfully ask that you as head of state put an end to this illegal harassment … and allow us once again to use the properties which are rightly ours so that we may worship God in peace and serve our communities and our country.”
The statements in the dossier continue, “Violence and intimidation have been the hallmark of this struggle. Priests and deacons are arrested without charge on a weekly basis. Zimbabwean bishops have received personal death threats by phone, in person and at gunpoint.”
According to the dossier, the breakaway church killed a woman in February for refusing to renounce the Anglican Church and signed by the Archbishop Albert Chama, head of the Anglican Church's Province of Central Africa, five bishops from Zimbabwe and Bishop Trevor Mwamba from neighbouring Botswana. Archbishop Williams arrived for a two-day visit to show solidarity to the Anglicans in Zimbabwe and will return to London, England on October 13.
While visiting them, he praised them for standing their ground despite the assaults from the excommunicated bishop’s followers and finding alternative places to worship after the ex-bishop locked them out of their church.
"You know very well, dear brothers and sisters, what it means to have doors locked in your faces by those who claim the name of Christians and Anglicans," Archbishop Williams told the approximately 15,000 people who attended a communion service at a sports stadium on the outskirts of the capital, Harare, on Oct. 9.
"You know how those who by their greed and violence have refused the grace of God try to silence your worship and frustrate your witness in the churches and schools and hospitals in this country. You have given so much to the church worldwide and to your neighbours in this great and troubled country. Yet you must know that we give thanks to God for you, for your patience and generosity and endurance," said Williams.
The congregation Williams preached to resorted to praying in tents or in the open after the “renegade” ex-bishop Nolbert Kunonga seized the property and barred those who did not support his faction out of the church. He also evicted school heads, teachers, and nurses out of various Anglican institutions in Zimbabwe and claimed 3000 properties in and out of Zimbabwe.
Before Williams met with Mugabe, his spokesman, George Charamba, said, according to the Anglican Journal:
“Mugabe wants to challenge the cleric on the church's position on homosexuality and western sanctions against Mugabe and members of his party elite.
"Fundamentally, he wants to know why the Church of the British state, the Anglican Church, has remained silent while the people of Zimbabwe, and these people include Anglicans, are suffering from illegal sanctions," Charamba said in an interview with the state weekly, The Sunday Mail.
"The second issue the president wants this man of God to clarify is why his Anglican Church thinks homosexuality is good for us, and why it should be prescribed for us. He thinks that the archbishop will be polite enough to point to him what portion of the great book sanctions homosexuality."
As Williams held mass, Kunonga held his own service where his followers held signs denouncing the archbishop. One sign said, “No to homosexuality” and another stated, “Mr. Rowan, homosexuality is abnormal.”