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Archbishop Hands Mugabe Dossier of Grievances

  • Peta Thornycroft

Archbishop of Canterbury arrives at the Anglican church in Thyolo district, Malawi, Oct. 7, 2011.

Archbishop of Canterbury arrives at the Anglican church in Thyolo district, Malawi, Oct. 7, 2011.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams says he has given Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe a dossier of hostile actions and violence perpetrated on Anglicans in the country since 2007.

Williams said he had “candid” discussions with the Zimbabwean leader in Harare on Monday, and asked him to use his power as head of state to stop attacks on Anglicans in the country.

The dossier was prepared by Zimbabwean bishops who derive their authority from the Anglican Province of the Church of Central Africa.

“I think that the scale of intimidation documented in the dossier was something with which he was not entirely familiar," said Archbishop Williams, head of the Anglican church. "Since 2007, Anglican congregations in Zimbabwe have suffered serious harassment and violence at the hands of illicit factions, at the hands of the police."

Recently, renegade Anglican bishop Nolbert Kunonga, who claims to have formed a new Anglican church in Zimbabwe in protest against what he says is the Archbishop’s support for homosexual marriage, has closed churches and seized Anglican church properties, including clinics, schools and orphanages.

Williams explained to president Mugabe that the Anglican Church of Central Africa does not allow the blessing of homosexual marriage and that this position has been stated frequently over the years. He also told the Zimbabwean leader that the worldwide Anglican community nevertheless respects homosexuals and that they should be treated with respect and dignity.

Mugabe agreed to speak with a renegade bishop, who was excommunicated by the mother church was in 2007 for inciting violence in sermons supporting Mugabe’s party. Kunonga has told media outlets that he continues support Mugabe and that Zimbabwe’s courts say he is the lawful occupier of Anglican property he has seized.

The Archbishop conducted a mass at a Harare sports center Sunday because the city’s Anglican cathedral and more than 30 churches in Harare are controlled by Kunonga and his supporters.

Williams said persecution of Anglicans in Zimbabwe was why he had come to the country, and that despite a peaceful meeting with Mugabe, they had differences of opinions.

According to The Associated Press, Williams began his southern African tour in Malawi last week. He is scheduled to leave Tuesday for Zambia, the last stop.