The former Bishop of Harare , Dr Nolbert Kunonga, has claimed the support of the Gafcon movement saying his schism from the Church of the Province of Central Africa was merely the opening shot in the Anglican Communion’s war over homosexuality.
However, the African archbishops leading the Anglican renewal movement have distanced themselves from the controversial bishop, giving their support to the Province and its dean, Bishop Albert Chama of Northern Zambia.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
Former Archbishop of Capetown and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu has called upon the leaders of the African Union to repudiate Robert Mugabe.
Speaking to the BBC before the start of the June 30 AU meeting in Egypt, Archbishop Tutu urged African government leaders to stop in and resolve the civic and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
Re-elected President on June 27 after his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai was forced to pull out of the race following the murders of at least 90 members of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party at the hand of thugs of the ruling ZANU-PF party and police loyal to the Zimbabwe strongman, Mugabe was hurriedly sworn in as president on June 29.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission asserted he had won 85% of the ballots cast—though its ability to report the outcome within days, rather than the months it took to issue the returns from the March elections—which independent observers widely credit Tsvangirai as having won, is seen as suspect.
On Saturday Prime Minister Gordon Brown rejected the legitimacy of the elections and said Britain would “work with international partners to find a way to close this sickening chapter that has cost so many lives.”
Leaders of the MDC are expected to travel to Egypt to present their case to the AU leaders. However, Tsvangirai will not be among them, as the government has refused to return his passport, effectively banning him from traveling abroad.
“If you were to have a unanimous voice, saying quite clearly to Mr Mugabe, ‘you are illegitimate and we will not recognise your administration in any shape or form,’ I think that would be a very, very powerful signal and would really strengthen the hand of the international community,” Archbishop Tutu said on June 29.
“That crisis has to be resolved sooner rather than later,” he said. “I think that a very good argument can be made for having an international force to restore peace.
“Almost everybody will say that any arrangement after Friday’s charade, that arrangement should be one in which Mr Mugabe certainly does not feature any longer,” Archbishop Tutu said.
In a pastoral letter issued earlier this month, Harare bishop Dr. Sebastian Bakare urged Anglicans to hold fast to their faith in the face of government persecution. The security services have closed Harare’s Anglican churches and assaulted clergy and worshippers, accusing them of being supporters of the MDC. Former Harare bishop Dr. Nolbert Kunonga, has backed the regime and is being rewarded with government support in his campaign to bend the diocese to his will.
Malawi free to appoint bishop: CEN 6.27.08 p 8. June 29, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa.
A Malawian High Court has lifted the injunction filed against the Central African House of Bishops, blocking the appointment of a bishop.
On June 13 a judge lifted the injunction after finding the complaint had not been properly notarized. On Feb 16 the diocese failed to elect a bishop after two candidates, the Rev. Jeremy Sheehy, the former principal of St. Stephen’s House, Oxford and Canon Alinafe Kalemba, Dean of the Zomba Theological College failed to gain a two-thirds majority after six ballots.
Delegates from the diocese voted for Fr. Sheehy, while the provincial electors voted for Canon Kalemba. The former provincial secretary of Central Africa, Fr. Eston Pembamoyo explained the “house was divided between those who said no to mzungu [white man] and those who said no to the black man.” Under Central African canon law the diocese’s 12 electors and the Province’s 9 episcopal electors must elect a candidate by a two-thirds majority.
Under canon law, in the event of a failed election, the House of Bishops is authorized to appoint a bishop. A clergy and lay group within the diocese filed suit against the Central African House of Bishops, which sought to appoint Canon Kalemba bishop, arguing the appointment would violate canon law.
Last week’s court decision permits the House of Bishops to appoint Canon Kalemba bishop in succession to the former Archbishop of Central Africa and Bishop of Upper Shire, Bernard Malango. However, the court also granted leave to appeal to the petitioners, allowing them to take their case to the country’s supreme court in Blantyre.
The Bishop of Harare has released a pastoral letter to his diocese, urging them to hold fast to the faith in the face of government persecution.
“In Zimbabwe today falsehood has almost become a national disease,” Bishop Sebastian Bakare wrote on June 18. “Some newspapers and electronic media thrive on spreading falsehoods. They twist the truth for falsehood,” he said.
These lies were being used by the government to justify “torture, killings, and arrests” to “sustain their status quo,” he said.
Anglicans in Harare were being “persecuted on allegations by former members of our church that they are gays, lesbians or MDC, [members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party].”
“Some politicians and police officers have embraced these allegations as truth and are out there to persecute the church of God. Our church buildings remain locked and are declared no-go areas by the police. Some police officers implementing the so-called “directives from above” have gone to the extent of forbidding us to pray even under a tree,” the bishop reported.
The lies told about the diocese had one meaning, the bishop said; “our faith is being put to the test. Those who are not strong enough will fall away.”
“The sight of helmeted riot police in front of our churches preventing the faithful from praying will go down as a shameful chapter in the history of our country which considers itself to be Christian,” the bishop said.
In the midst of these travails, the church in Zimbabwe had not been forgotten he said. The Archbishop of Capetown, and the Bishops of Massachusetts and Tonbridge had come to Harare “to stand by us and have firsthand experience of what we are going through in this Diocese.”
The bishop urged all Anglicans to bear the trials of the present day. “The suffering that we are going through becomes the fruit of courageous witness to our faith in Jesus who himself was falsely condemned to death,” Bishop Bakare said.
Former bishops are excommunicated: CEN 6.06.08 p 7. June 10, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Zimbabwe.
|Central Africa has excommunicated the former bishops of Harare and Manicaland. In letters dated May 16, the Dean of the Province of Central Africa, Bishop Albert Chama of Northern Zambia pronounced the “sentence of Greater Excommunication” upon former Bishops Nolbert Kunonga (pictured) and Elson Jakazi.
The bishops had separated themselves from the church by “withdrawing from the Province of Central Africa, forming another Church, and casting aside the Constitution and Canons of the Church of the Province of Central Africa.”
All Anglicans were asked to pray for “these, our erring brothers” that they may “speedily attain true repentance, for their own souls’ health and the wellbeing of the body of Church.”
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
|The Bishops of Central Africa have released a pastoral letter pleading for peace, justice and the restoration of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.
On June 3 the Bishops of Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia released a statement voicing their dismay at the “escalation of violence” in the wake of the March 29 elections.
Signed by all of the Church’s bishops, including the five bishops of Zimbabwe: Peter Hatendi of Manicaland (pictured), Sebastian Bakare of Harare, Ishmael Mukuwanda of Central Zimbabwe, Wilson Sitshebo of Matabeleland, and Godfrey Tawonezvi of Masvingo, is the strongest statement yet issued by the Province, and is the first unambiguous condemnation of the Mugabe regime by the whole House of Bishops.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
|THE GOVERNMENT of Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe has denounced the Archbishops of Canterbury and York as tools of British foreign policy. In a June 2 article published in the government-backed Harare Herald, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the Archbishops’ plea for peace in Zimbabwe was an unwarranted interference in his country’s sovereignty.
On April 24, Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu called upon the “heads of Christian denominations in Zimbabwe and our brother Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Rev Thabo Makgoba, for the government of South Africa, the SADC region and the United Nations to act effectively” to help resolve the social and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
Stephen Crittenden, host of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) National Radio program The Religion Report interviewed me for the show’s June 4 broadcast on the topic of Dr. Nolbert Kunonga and the church crisis in Zimbabwe.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
The Diocese of Harare has issued an appeal for assistance to the Churches of Zimbabwe, saying the security services’ violent intervention into the life of the church was a perversion of justice and a violation of basic human rights.
Police loyal to Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe have backed the former bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga in his battle with the new bishop Dr. Sebastian Bakare over the control of diocesan property. The result has been that Harare’s Anglican churches have been closed, padlocked by order of the police.
Critics charge Dr. Kunonga has been able to exploit Zimbabwe’s political turmoil to his advantage, linking in the eyes of the government the cause of Dr. Bakare with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) political fortunes.
“The police have continued to brutalize our people—which is sad,” said Bishop Albert Chama, Dean of the Province of Central Africa. “This is political interference. I’m sure the police are getting orders from above. They’re protecting Kunonga,” he told the New York Times last week.
On May 12 the Harare High Court rejected an application from Dr. Kunonga seeking to dissolve an order requiring him to share the use of church facilities pending the outcome of litigation with Dr. Bakare and the Province of Central Africa.
Police have ignored the court orders and have ejected all but the handful of Kunonga loyalists from the churches. Arrests and beatings at the hands of the security services have been reported at churches across the diocese by those attempting to worship.
On May 26, approximately 80 women were detained after they sought to enter Christ Church in Borrowdale for a worship service. Later that day independent journalist and author Peter Godwin was arrested by the police at Christ Church when he attempted to take a photograph of his parents’ graves—but was released later that day.
The state-controlled press has also taken up Dr. Kunonga’s banner, reporting on May 5 that he had been given sole custody of the diocese’s property—a statement that was “a gross misrepresentation of the legal position and a distortion of the truth,” Dr. Bakare said.
Dr. Kunonga has also accused Dr. Bakare and the Anglican Church of being a front for the opposition MDC party. Dr. Bakare denied the allegations, saying the church was “not an appendix of any political party in Zimbabwe.”
The allegations that the Anglican Church was “pro homosexual,” that it “supports the MDC,” and that it was an appendage of the Church of England “wanting to re-colonise the country” was false, the bishop said.
Dr. Bakare called upon Zimbabwe’s churches “to join us in prayer as we fight for religious freedom which is being trampled upon.” What was happening to Anglicans in Harare was “indicative of what can happen to any denomination tomorrow. As a Christian body we understand that if one part of the body is suffering and is persecuted the whole body suffers,” he said.
|THERE WILL be no “swift or easy answers” to the Zimbabwe crisis, Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba reported following a briefing with South African President Thabo Mbeki. But the political stalemate will not mute the Church’s call for justice and peace in Zimbabwe, the new archbishop said.
Responding to sharp criticism from church leaders over his handling of the Zimbabwe crisis, South African President Thabo Mbeki invited 15 religious leaders on May 2 to hear an overview of his mediation efforts in Zimbabwe, spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said. The meeting was held before yesterday’s announcement of a June 27 date for the run-off election for the presidency.
On April 27, the president also held a two-hour private meeting with Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, who last month called pressed the government to impose an arms embargo on the regime of Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have added their voices to the chorus denouncing Zimbabwe’s decent into anarchy as Robert Mugabe seeks to maintain his hold on power.
On April 24, Dr. Rowan Williams and Dr. John Sentamu released a joint statement warning that unless the international community takes action, the “continuing political violence and drift could unleash spiraling communal violence.”
Nobel laureate and former Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu warned “Zimbabwe is staring into the abyss. Violence is growing and the people are suffering greatly as a result. It is now vital that we all do what we can to calm the situation.”
He backed the call of the present Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba for an arms embargo on Zimbabwe. “It is obvious that supplying large quantities of arms at this stage would risk escalating the violence, perhaps resulting in the large-scale loss of life,” he said on April 24.
The Primate of Australia, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane joined his Roman Catholic counterpart Archbishop Philip Wilson and other church leaders in releasing a statement of “deep concern over the deteriorating political, security, economic and human rights situation in Zimbabwe.” If “nothing is done to help the people of Zimbabwe from their predicament, we shall soon be witnessing atrocities similar to that experienced in Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi,” they warned.
Drs Williams and Sentamu also voiced concern over the state sanctioned violence unleashed against the people of Zimbabwe. “Faithful men, women and young people who seek better governance in either political or church affairs continue to be beaten, intimidated or oppressed,” they said.
“Churches across England have been praying for Zimbabwe before, during and after the polls,” the English archbishops said. They urged all Christians to pray for the peace of Zimbabwe, adding “we must work to build a civil society movement that both creates political will and gives voice to those who demand an end to the mayhem that grows out of injustice, poverty, exclusion and violence.”
|The Archbishop of Cape Town has called upon the United Nations Security Council to impose an arms embargo upon Zimbabwe. In a statement released on April 22, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba also criticized the foreign policy strategy of President Thabo Mkeki, saying the South African leader’s efforts were failing the people of Zimbabwe.
The new archbishop’s statements on Zimbabwe mark a new era in church-state relations in South Africa, with a new generation coming to fore with less ties to the African National Congress (ANC). While former Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane would challenge the ANC government’s health and development polices, critics charged he backed the government’s hands off policies toward the Mugabe regime.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.
Zimbabwe church pleads for prayer: CEN 4.25.08 p 1. April 27, 2008Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Persecution, Politics, Zimbabwe.
The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has called upon the Anglican Communion to mark this Sunday, April 27, as a day of prayer for the strife-torn Central African nation.
Meanwhile, The Archbishop of Cape Town has called upon the United Nations Security Council to impose an arms embargo upon Zimbabwe.
In a statement released on April 22, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba also criticized the foreign policy strategy of President Thabo Mkeki, saying the South African leader’s efforts were failing the people of Zimbabwe.
The Chancellor of the Diocese of Harare, and Vice-Chancellor of the Province of Central Africa, Robert Stumbles, said a “desperate cry from the hearts of Zimbabwe screams across the world.”
The Church called upon all Christians to pray and reflect “on the critical situation in Zimbabwe, a nation in dire distress and teetering on the brink of human disaster.”
“Let the cry for help touch your heart and mind,” the statement said, urging “everyone anxious to rescue Zimbabwe from violence, the concealing and juggling of election results, deceit, oppression and corruption” to pray for “righteousness, joy, peace, compassion, honesty, justice, democracy and freedom from fear and want.”
On April 22 the leaders of all of Zimbabwe’s main Christian churches released a statement condemning the growing anarchy and violence within the country in the wake of the March 29 General Elections.
“We warn the world that if nothing is done to help the people of Zimbabwe from their predicament, we shall soon be witnessing genocide similar to that experienced in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and other hot spots in Africa and elsewhere,” the leaders of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches said.
“We appeal to the Southern African Development Community, the African Union and the UN to work towards arresting the deteriorating political and security situation in Zimbabwe,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, a South African court has granted the Bishop of Natal and a church group an emergency order banning the transshipment of Chinese weapons from the port of Durban to Zimbabwe.
On April 18 lawyers for Bishop Rubin Phillip and Patrick Kearney, executive director of the Diakonia Council of Churches, presented a petition to Durban High Court Judge Kate Pillay asking her to bar the shipment of Chinese weapons destined for the Zimbabwe security forces.
According to the bill of lading for the Chinese flagged freighter An Yue Jiang,the cargo destined for Zimbabwe’s security forces included three million rounds of 7.62mm bullets – the calibre used in AK47 assault rifles and 69 rocket-propelled grenade launchers with munitions.
The new archbishop’s statements on Zimbabwe mark a new era in church-state relations in South Africa, with a new generation coming to fore with less ties to the African National Congress (ANC). While former Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane would challenge the ANC government’s health and development polices, critics charged he backed the government’s hands off policies toward the Mugabe regime.
“The plight of the people of Zimbabwe is heart-breaking,” Archbishop Makgoba said. “Already bruised, broken and crushed by oppression and economic hardship before the elections, they are now even more divided, despondent and, in many cases, hopeless than they were before.”
Church leaders call for pressure on Mugabe: CEN 4.18.08 p 7. April 19, 2008Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Politics, Zimbabwe.
Church leaders have urged the leaders of the 14-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) to press Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe to abide by the results of the March 29 general elections. However, democracy activists fear little of substance will come from the April 12-13 emergency summit in Zambia.
Anglican bishops from nine African countries meeting in Pretoria on April 11 released a statement urging the SADC to “prevail upon” President Mugabe to honor the rule of law, AFP reported. “We are concerned that this situation has given rise to rumour and uncertainty which are bound to fuel despondency, tension and social upheaval,” the bishops said
The urged the SADC heads of state to intensify the diplomatic efforts led by South African President Thabo Mbeki to end the stalemate and urged the UN and African Union to send envoys to Harare.
On Friday, World Council of Churches general secretary Dr. Samuel Kobia stated it was “the sovereign right of the people of Zimbabwe to choose their leaders, define the future of their country and insist upon a peaceful transition.”
Writing to the President of Zambia Levy Mwanawasa on April 11, Dr. Kobia thanked him for convening the emergency summit to “address the growing political crisis paralysing life and safety in Zimbabwe.”
The World Council of Churches believes “this [meeting] will help to peacefully resolve the current political impasse.”
However, Moeletsi Mbeki, a political economist and the deputy chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg, said he expected little to be accomplished.
“SADC has given ZANU-PF [Zimbabwe's ruling party] comfort to do what it is doing,” he told the IRIN news agency last week.
Zimbabwe’s MDC opposition party was a threat not only to Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party but to South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC), Angola’s MPLA government and other SADC governments as it was democratic movement while most SADC governments were “nationalist parties, created by black elites during the colonial era, who saw themselves as colonial equals. They see themselves as superior to the black masses.”
The summit was most likely called by the SADC governments as a result of international pressure, not in reaction to the Zimbabwe political crisis, he noted.
The call issued by the weekend meeting for South African President Thabo Mbeki to continue his mediation efforts was challenged by Zimbabwean democracy activists. “For the SADC to have mandated President Mbeki to continue with the (facilitation) exercise, that is the joke of the year,” said Wellington Chibebe of the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions on April 14.
Irene Petras of Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights told the South African Press Association that President Mbeki’s insistence that there was no crisis in Zimbabwe revealed a “measure of dishonesty.”
“There is a constitutional crisis; there is no parliament that can pass any laws, we have a caretaker president who cannot act with any legitimate powers, we have an election process which is in disarray,” she said, adding that “there is no separation of power and the rule of law is under attack especially through the use of political violence.”
“I think any reasonable person would see there is a crisis which should be addressed in an honest manner, and it needs to be addressed urgently,” Ms. Petras said.
Archbishop admits adultery: CEN 4.04.08 p 6. April 3, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Roman Catholic Church, Zimbabwe.
Published in The Church of England Newspaper
Zimbabwe’s leading democracy activist, the former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Msg. Pius Ncube has admitted to violating his vow of celibacy and having had an affair with a married woman.
Last September, Archbishop Ncube resigned his see two months after state television broadcast films of the prelate in bed with Rosemary Sibanda, a church employee.
Attorneys for the Archbishop denounced the films as fakes, but the sex sting, played across the pages of the government-backed Harare Herald for two months, severely damaged the credibility of Robert Mugabe’s most prominent critic.
Mrs. Sibanda’s estranged husband sued the Archbishop for £80,000 in damages for criminal conversion, (adultery), and President Mugabe publicly joked about the archbishop’s indiscretion and denounced him as a hypocrite unwilling to live up to his ordination vows.
Doubt as to the veracity of the films increased after it was revealed they were taken by a private investigator who was a former member of the Zimbabwe secret police, the Central Intelligence Organisation who had been involved in the politically-motivated mass murder of supporters of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union in the Ndebele provinces of Matabeleland. An estimated 10,000 to 30,000 civilians were murdered in the pogrom in the 1980′s.
When the allegations arose Archbishop Ncube said they were a “state-driven, vicious attack not just on myself, but by proxy on the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe,” and he received the backing of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference and human rights activists across Southern Africa.
However, according to a report printed on March 25 by the Catholic Information Service for Africa, Archbishop Ncube conceded the charge of adultery was true.
“It is true. I do admit that I did fail in keeping God’s commandment with regard to adultery,” Archbishop Ncube told South Africa’s Frontier Africa TV.
“Having failed in keeping the Seventh Commandment Thou shalt not commit adultery, I would like to apologise to you, I’d like to apologise that so many of you were praying for me, for the fact that so many of you standing with me in fact suffered so much,” he said.
On Sept 11, 2007, the Vatican released a letter written by the archbishop in which he offered his resignation as Archbishop of Bulawayo “in order to spare my fellow bishops and the body of the Church any further attacks.” Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation under Canon 410.2, which allows a bishop to resign if he becomes ill or for some grave reason becomes incapable of continuing his ministry.
Thug Bishop: Christianity Today 4.3.08 April 3, 2008Posted by geoconger in Christianity Today, Zimbabwe.
Even before Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s troubles in the country’s March 29 elections, an effort to create an independent Anglican church loyal to him had collapsed.
Support for Mugabe ally Bishop Nolbert Kunonga of Harare and his breakaway Anglican Church of Zimbabwe has all but disappeared, with the bishop’s waning control maintained by government security services.
Read it all in Christianity Today.
Zimbabwe is a “nation of victims”: CEN 3.28.08 p 6. March 31, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Politics, Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has become a “nation of political victims” the Bishop of Harare said in a pastoral letter released ahead of the March 29 General Elections.
Bishop Sebastian Bakare wrote that in Zimbabwe “the poor are getting poorer not by the day but by the minute and they cannot afford the soaring prices of daily essentials.”
Running under the banner of “Chinja”—‘change’ in the Shona language, – the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai is ahead in the polls 28.3 percent to President Mugabe’s 20.3 percent with former finance minister Simba Makoni running a close third.
However, most observers predict a Mugabe victory fueled by voter intimidation and fraud. The army has said it will not recognize any winner but Robert Mugabe, while Human Rights Watch has accused the government of using violence to intimidate opponents and using state subsidised food to buy votes.
On Saturday, President Mugabe told a rally the MDC were tools of British colonialists. “It is treasonous for the MDC to continue to help the British so that they have any influence here,” he told supporters in Harare.
The MDC “still look up to the British in this day and age. They want to rule this country. That will not happen as long as we are still alive, those of us who fought the liberation struggle,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s economy is near collapse. Inflation is currently running 100,580 percent and shopkeepers no longer accept cheques or credit cards for purchases as the time it takes to process the transaction wipes out any profit they may have had. A loaf of bread in Harare costs Z$15 million, approximately two weeks wages for a farm worker.
Bishop Bakare denounced profiteers and the political cronies of 84 year old strongman Robert Mugabe as the “few who manipulate the situation to their profit. They hold on fast to what they have.”
“For such a people a changed future is most unwelcome,” he wrote last week.
Published in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.
Robert Mugabe has called for the “Africanisation” of Christianity in Zimbabwe, calling upon the nation’s churches to break free from foreign overlords.
In a reference to Dr. Nolbert Kunonga’s battle with the Anglican Communion and to his long running battle with the Roman Catholic Church, President Mugabe said ecclesiastical authority in Zimbabwe’s churches should be held by Zimbabweans. Speaking in the Bulawayo suburb of Lobengula on the final Sunday before the March 29 General Elections, Zimbabwe’s president said “independence means power has come to the indigenous people of the country. In every area we should show that we could exercise that power.”
After crushing Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in what was widely viewed as a corrupted election in 2000, the Roman Catholic Church’s Archbishop of Bulawayo, Msg. Pius Ncube emerged as the country’s leading democracy advocate. While Archbishop Ncube resigned last year in the wake of what his supporters say was a plot concocted by the country’s secret police the Catholic Church has remained an outspoken supporter of human rights and democratic freedoms.
The Anglican Church, however, had been divided with two of the country’s five bishops backing President Mugabe. The former Bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga is an outspoken supporter of the ZANU-PF party and President Mugabe, and for his loyalty had been given a farm confiscated from a white farmer. Dr. Kunonga has called President Mugabe God’s anointed ruler of Zimbabwe and backed his reelection, while leaders of a number of African Indigenous Churches have also lent the president their support.
However, Dr. Kunonga’s removal from office by the Church of the Province of Central Africa and the appointment of Dr. Sebastian Bakare as Bishop of Harare has changed the political dynamic among President Mugabe’s church supporters. In a pastoral letter released two weeks ago, Bishop Bakare backed the call for change, and condemned the government policies that have impoverished the nation.
In his address to the members of the Apostolic Faith Church of Africa in Lobengula on Sunday, President Mugabe said “our people must be able to head, even the old churches and perhaps the new ones also. We want to see the Africanisation of the Church, which does not mean bringing in an African God because there is only one universal God. But the running of the Church. “
African Indigenous Churches, he said, were a more authentic avenue for the expression of Christian belief for black Africans than the historic missionary churches. “We want to see African people not as workers, kneeling for help before whites. We want to see us being owners of companies ourselves and senior managers so that we can say Zimbabwe is truly an African country,” President Mugabe said according to a partial transcript of his sermon printed in the government-backed Harare Herald.
Independent sources cited by Radio SW Africa reported the Lobengula Church was half empty, and that the pastor apologized for the poor turnout. Many of his parishioners were traveling to their home villages for the Easter holiday, he explained.
Thanking the congregation in advance for their votes, President Mugabe promised to give the church a confiscated commercial farm and to pave the road to the church.
President Mugabe, a Roman Catholic, told the congregation he was “happy that this is an African church by birth and leadership.” The Apostolic Faith Church of Africa linked its fortunes with the Mugabe regime when in 2000 ZANU-PF’s chief campaign strategist Border Gezi joined the church. Drawing its members from the country’s poor, the sect’s members practice polygamy. The church’s female members dress in white while men wear a long beard accompanied by a clean-shaven head.
Political scientist Terry Ranger noted in 2002 that the sect’s founder Godfrey Nzira prophesized that Mugabe was the “divinely appointed King of Zimbabwe and no man should dare challenge his office.”
Bishop says Mugabe is Moses: CEN 3.14.08 p 8. March 14, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Politics, Zimbabwe.
Robert Mugabe is a new Moses, leading the people of Zimbabwe out of British colonialist captivity, the former Bishop of Harare Dr. Nolbert Kunonga has said.
“As the church we see the President with different eyes. To us he is a prophet of God who was sent to deliver the people of Zimbabwe from bondage,” Dr. Kunonga said, urging Zimbabweans to back the octogenarian strongman in the March 29 General Election.
Speaking on state radio, Dr. Kunonga said President Mugabe was an instrument of divine justice. “God raised him to acquire our land and distribute it to Zimbabweans; we call it democracy of the stomach. There is no Government without soil.”
The economic meltdown in Zimbabwe was not the fault of the government, he charged, but the result of foreign sanctions. “As the church we are totally against sanctions for they are destroying our country,” he said according to a report in the independent SW Radio Africa.
Inflation in Zimbabwe is currently running at 100,000 per cent, and a third of the nation’s 12 million people are currently subsisting on emergency food aid, the UN reported in January. The situation will only worsen the Food and Agriculture Organisation said, as only 10 per cent of the fertilizer needed for the crop was available to farmers at the start of the planting season.
On Monday, President Mugabe announced a new Economic Empowerment Act that nationalizes portions of the remaining white owned businesses in the country. “Indigenous Zimbabweans” must hold a 51 per cent stake in every business and have a controlling stake in every merger. The new law is seen as an election eve stunt to bolster the president’s popularity.
The government has also spent its remaining foreign currency reserves on importing corn, once one of the country’s major export items, spending £23 million since December, central bank governor Gideon Gono said on March 8.
Bishop urges Zimbabweans to use their vote: CEN 3.05.08 March 5, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Politics, Zimbabwe.
|IT IS THE civic duty of every Zimbabwean to vote in the March 29 General Election, the Bishop of Harare has told the Voice of America. “People are suffering,” Bishop Sebastian Bakare said on Feb 27, and that is reason “enough to vote.”
In a telephone interview broadcast on VOA’s shortwave service, Bishop Bakare declined to endorse any candidate or political programme. The “Church should stick to its mission,” he said, and “do nothing but preach justice, love and peace to the people.”
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
The Bishop of Harare and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s assistant for international development February 28, 2008Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Church of England Newspaper, Zimbabwe.
Dr. Sebastian Bakare and the Rev. David Peck.
Photo courtesy of James Rosenthal/ACNS
Kunonga under pressure in Zimbabwe: CEN 2.29.08 p 7 February 28, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Zimbabwe.
The former Bishop of Harare continues to lose ground in his battle with Bishop Sebastian Bakare for the control of the Church, reports from the diocese indicate.
While still retaining the support of the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO)-the Zimbabwe secret police—support for Dr. Nolbert Kunonga among the diocese and within the wider Zimbabwe society appears to be rapidly dissipating.
The “majority of priests” have backed Dr. Barare, and “were present at his installation and enthronement,” the chancellor of the Diocese of Harare, Robert Stumbles, tells The Church of England Newspaper.
“Almost all those priests who were unlawfully and autocratically dismissed by Dr Kunonga, and who remained in Zimbabwe, have once again joined the growing band who show loyalty to Bishop Bakare and are delighted at the turn of events. They regarded Dr. Kunonga as a persecutor,” Mr. Stumbles said.
Lay support for Dr. Kunonga is also fading as congregations “have almost unanimously chosen to follow Bishop Bakare and shun Dr Kunonga. The general pattern on Sundays is that Kunonga and his priests, who are diminishing in numbers, find at their services a handful of people in the congregation. On some occasions, these have consisted of the wife and children of the priest.”
Dr. Bakare’s services have been packed, Mr. Stumbles reports, even when Dr. Kunonga “arranges to lock the Cathedral and his priests at other churches forbid the Bakare congregations to enter and hold their own services.”
Mr. Stumbles noted the Bakare services “have been disrupted from time to time by Kunonga ‘men’ who arrive and threaten and assault the parishioners.”
On Feb 25 the independent expatriate news agency paper Zim.Online reported elements of the ruling ZANU-PF government of President Robert Mugabe were propping up Dr. Kunonga, providing him with CIO personnel as well as members of the ZANU-PF youth militia to maintain control of the diocese’s properties.
Dr. Kunonga has ignored court orders with impunity, the news service reported, and has been able to use violence to assert his control.
Kunonga barricade at Harare Cathedral: CEN 2.22.08 p. 6. February 23, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Zimbabwe.
Dr. Nolbert Kunonga has barricaded himself inside the Cathedral of St. Mary and All Saints in Harare, defying a court order to open the city’s cathedral to Bishop Sebastian Bakare.
On Feb 10, Dr. Kunonga and approximately 40 members of the ZANU-PF youth militia remained in the Cathedral after Sunday morning services and refused entrance to supporters of Dr. Bakare. Last month the Harare high court ordered Dr. Kunonga to share the Cathedral with Dr. Bakare, giving the former bishop the use of the cathedral for morning services and the new bishop the afternoon.
In October Dr. Kunonga purported to pull the diocese out of the Province of Central Africa to form his own Anglican Church of Zimbabwe. The Province deposed Dr. Kunonga and appointed the retired Bishop of Manicaland, Dr. Sebastian Bakare as acting bishop of the diocese.
A spokesman for Dr. Bakare, the Rev. Christopher Tapera told the Zimbabwe Independent that when the afternoon congregation arrived at the Cathedral they found that “Kunonga locked up the church.”
Bakare loyalists then held a service in the Cathedral car park, but members of the youth milita disrupted the service and “the thugs ended up assaulting some of the followers,” Fr. Tapera said.
The ZANU-PF youth militias are a Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s shock troops, the US State Department said in a 2002 report. The militias operate “freely throughout the country, engaging in a violent campaign of intimidation directed against opposition supporters or those perceived to be such,” the US government said, and in the 2002 elections established “no-go areas” for opposition supporters who they “routinely subjected to beatings and other forms of intimidation.”
Last Sunday the diocese sent Harare’s Deputy Sheriff to the Cathedral to enforce the court order requiring Dr. Kunonga to share the building pending the outcome of litigation. Accompanied by supporters of Dr. Bakare the sheriff used bolt cutters to break open the padlock chaining the cathedral door closed.
Members of the youth militia and two priests loyal to Dr. Kunonga refused to allow the sheriff entry to the cathedral, a source in Harare told The Church of England Newspaper.
While the two sides argued the point, the police on duty at the cathedral called in the riot squad. Wielding truncheons the police dispersed the crowd and arrested the sheriff and a reporter from the government controlled newspaper the Harare Herald, taking them and leaders of both factions to the Central Police Station for questioning. Dr. Kunonga remained inside the Cathedral.
While Dr. Kunonga was squatting in Harare, Dr. Bakare was at General Synod in London. In his presidential address the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams praised Dr. Bakare and the loyalist clergy of the diocese, giving them his full support.
Malawi fails to fill posts: CEN 2.22.08 p 7 February 22, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa.
Central Africa failed to fill two episcopal sees this past weekend, after a Malawi court ordered the Diocese of Lake Malawi to cancel its Feb 16 election, and the Diocese of Upper Shire failed to elect a successor to Archbishop Bernard Malango after delegates deadlocked.
Six ballots failed to elect a bishop for the Upper Shire on Feb 16, Provincial Secretary the Rev. Eston Pembamoyo told The Church of England Newspaper. Two candidates, the Archdeacon of Bradford the Ven. David Lee, and the Rev. Steven Hart, rector of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Albany, New York withdrew their names at the start of the balloting as did the Rev. Howard Nasolo of Zomba.
The remaining candidates, the Rev. Jeremy Sheehy, (pictured) the former principal of St. Stephen’s House, Oxford and Canon Alinafe Kalemba, Dean of the Zomba Theological College failed to gain a two-thirds majority after six ballots.
Fr. Pembamoyo explained the “house was divided between those who said no to mzungu [white man] and those who said no to the black man.” Under Central African canon law the diocese’s 12 electors and the Province’s 9 episcopal electors must elect a candidate by a two-thirds majority.
“Those who said no to the black man said so because they thought he was being imposed on the people because he is from another diocese, and those who said no to the mzungu said so because they thought it was not time now to look to the West for the Gospel rather for the West look to the South for Spirituality and Evangelism revival,” he said.
In the wake of a deadlocked election, canon law gives the House of Bishops the authority to elect a new bishop.
Fr. Pembamoyo reporteds that the Elective Assembly for Lake Malawi was prorogued on Feb 5 after a court issued an injunction on behalf of a group calling itself “House of Laity of the Diocese of Lake Malawi.”
The “House of Laity” charged that the three month notice required under canon law had not been given. The diocese has been without a bishop since the death of Bishop Peter Nyanja in 2005. The July 2005 election of London vicar the Rev. Nicholas Henderson was rejected by the House of Bishops and in September a right of further appeal was refused.
Following meetings in November and January the diocesan standing committee set down a new election for Feb 16. Fr. Pembamoyo told CEN the diocese’s four archdeaconries were initially divided. Two proposed fresh elections with the caveat that Fr. Henderson and a Malawian priest the Rev. Henry M’baya not be permitted to stand, a third archdeaconry set no preconditions, while the fourth asked the election be postponed until a further appeal of the Henderson case could be adjudicated.
Fr. Pembamoyo added the self-styled “House of Laity” was not a bona fide administrative unit of the diocesan structure. It existed only during synod and standing committee meetings and its elected leader presided over the “House” only during that session.
Zimbabwe action ‘needed’: CEN 2.15.08 p 7. February 16, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, House of Lords, Zimbabwe.
The Bishop of Southwark has urged the government to rally the international community to take action on Zimbabwe.
Speaking in the House of Lords on Feb 6, the Rt. Rev. Tom Butler said that it was “incomprehensible” that the government had been unable to achieve an international consensus in the face of the “suffering” and “total collapse of the economy” facing Zimbabwe.
Bishop Butler said that while President Mugabe’s popularity among African leaders rested on his “apparent ability to act decisively on land reform,” the Zimbabwe strongman’s “short cuts” by means of “violent farm seizures” had been “disastrous” for the people.
Land confiscated from white farmers had been turned over to cronies of the regime resulting in the “devastation of Zimbabwe’s agriculture.” The “bread basket of Africa” had been turned “into an unproductive wasteland” through government malfeasance, he said.
Dr. Butler urged the government to be clear in its commitment to help a “legitimate Zimbabwean Government” enact “land reform that is equitable for all Zimbabwean citizens.”
However, change was in the air, he said, pointing to the Feb 3 consecration of Bishop Sebastian Bakare in place of the Mugabe-loyalist Dr. Nolbert Kunonga. “The good news is that this demonstrates how the brave people of Zimbabwe, given the opportunity, are more than ready to take responsibility for governance,” he said.
“What can happen at the heart of the church can happen at the heart of Government. Please, God, may it do so before too long,” he said.
Dr. Butler’s call for international pressure is being mirrored in acts of small civil disobedience within the country. On Feb 8, 69 members of the Mothers’ Union of St. Andrew’s, Glen View in Harare were arrested by the police after they attempted to forcibly evict a Kunonga loyalist from the parish rectory.
The Mothers’ Union demanded the Rev. Martin Zifoti vacate the rectory and broke several windows, a French door, and knocked over a fence in their zeal. Sixty-one members were released by the police, but eight were bound over by a magistrate to face charges of malicious mischief.
On Feb 11, the eight were arraigned before the Mbare Magistrates Court and released on bail. Press reports of the proceedings stated that the court room was packed to capacity with members of the Mothers’ Union, dressed in blue skirts and white blouses, offering a public display of solidarity for their jailed sisters.
South African raid highlights Zimbabwe crisis: CEN 2.08.08 February 9, 2008Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Immigration, Politics, Zimbabwe.
| A POLICE raid on a church in Johannesburg sheltering refugees has drawn sharp protests from civil society and church leaders in South Africa, and has highlighted the humanitarian crisis in President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.
On Jan 30 approximately 100 officers of the South African Police Service with the support of Home Affairs ministry officials entered Johannesburg’s Central Methodist Mission, rounding up approximately 1500 Zimbabwean refugees shelter in the building.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.
Bishop’s Mugabe claim: CEN 2.01.08 p 8. January 31, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Zimbabwe.
The former Bishop of Harare’s claim that he pulled his diocese out of the Church of the Province of Central Africa in protest to its alleged support of homosexuality was a ruse to gain favor with the government of Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe, Bishop Sebastian Bakare claimed in a newspaper interview last week.
Speaking to the Zimbabwe Independent, Dr. Bakare, the acting bishop of the diocese, said Dr. Kunonga “told the world that homosexuality was high in church, but no one accepts homosexuality. This is an issue which is not acceptable in our church.”
Dr. Kunonga “came up with the issue to draw the support of the president (Robert Mugabe) who has spoken out against the practice,” Dr. Bakare said in the Jan 25 interview.
President Mugabe, who has described homosexuals as being lower than “dogs and pigs,” has frequently spoken on the issue of the threat faced by Zimbabwe by the gay movement. At a political rally celebrating his birthday in 2006, President Mugabe told supporters that homosexuality was a malign legacy of the colonialist past and a “white” disease.
Supporters of gay marriage were a threat to African culture and those who promoted or performed gay marriage ceremonies would be jailed, he said.
The former bishop of Harare had successfully manipulated President Mugabe, using the ‘gay card’ to strengthen his ties to the regime so as to consolidate his hold over the diocese’s property, Dr. Bakare said.
On Jan 12 the Harare district police commissioner issued an order forbidding Anglican Churches from gathering to worship unless they aligned themselves with Dr. Kunonga. Police broke up loyalist services the next day, arresting three priests and a number of lay leaders, in a move that provoked protests by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Kunonga crisis spills over into Botswana: CEN 2.01.08 p 8. January 31, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Zimbabwe.
In November, the Rt. Rev. Trevor Mwamba suspended seven priests, stopping their pay and ordering them to vacate their rectories, after they enlisted the support of Dr. Nolbert Kunonga in their battle against the bishop. The clergy have petitioned the High Court in Gabore, seeking an injunction against the bishop and the payment of their stipends.
The dispute between the seven priests, ethnic Batswanas—the dominant tribal group in Botswana—and Bishop Mwamba, a native of Zambia, has its roots over complaints that the bishop favored foreigners in church patronage appointments. However, the Anglican Communion’s war over homosexuality and Zimbabwe’s Kunonga schism appears to have supplanted the original dispute.
On Aug 25, six of the seven priests, wrote to the Primate of Central Africa, Archbishop Bernard Malango, stating they had no confidence in Bishop Mwamba’s leadership. They charged the bishop with being profligate, traveling “the length and breadth of the world extravagantly at the expense of the church.”
The bishop had also brought the church into disrepute by taking up acting. Bishop Mwamba had performed in the BBC film adaption of Alexander McCall Smith’s 1998 best-seller, “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency,” which was filmed in Botswana. This was vulgar and a cause of “shame” for the diocese, they argued.
Bishop Mwamba also “looks down upon the other Bishops of the Province who do not support homosexuality as propounded by the American Anglicans,” they charged.
Archbishop Malango declined to act upon the priest’s complaint, but Dr. Kunonga stepped in, telling the government controlled press in Harare that Bishop Mwamba was a homosexual—a charge vigorously denied by Bishop Mwamba, and dismissed as a lie by the Bishop of Southern Malawi James Tengatenga.
In October, the Rev. Morris Brown Gwedegwe—a Kunonga loyalist who has since been named a vicar general of one of the four new dioceses created by Dr. Kunonga in the schismatic Anglican Church of Zimbabwe—wrote to the clergy and leading newspapers of Botswana denigrating Bishop Mwamba by highlighting his foreign origins, alleged homosexuality, and claiming that his rise to episcopal office was due to his marriage to the daughter of the former President of Botswana.
When the Province moved against Dr. Kunonga, seeking to oust him from control of the Diocese of Harare, Bishop Mwamba moved against the seven Kunonga loyalists in Botswana, revoking their licenses.
In testimony presented to the High Court in Gabarone last week, Bishop Mwamba stated the Diocesan Canons permit a bishop to “grant, withhold, revoke or renew” a priest’s licence “as he may see fit.”
The seven had been engaged in “factionalism in association with a certain Dr Kunonga, who is a schismatic and not recognised in the Province and the Anglican Communion Worldwide,” he said.
The court’s deliberations are expected to continue through February.
Rival Bishops must share buildings: CEN 1.25.08 p 7. January 27, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Zimbabwe.
A Zimbabwe Court has ordered Dr. Nolbert Kunonga the former Bishop of Harare, and Dr. Sebastian Bakare–his successor appointed by the Province of Central Africa—to share the diocese’s churches pending a final ruling on the ownership of the diocese’s property.On Jan 19 High Court Judge Rita Makarau said supporters of Dr. Kunonga could hold their services in churches between 7:00 and 10:00 on Sunday morning, while those loyal to Dr. Bakare could worship after 11:00.
Last week riot police broke up pro-Bakare services, detaining briefly three priests and a number of lay leaders. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams has condemned the police actions, and lauded the faithfulness of the loyalist clergy.
Of the diocese’s 72 parishes, 60 are understood to have backed Dr. Bakare. However, Dr. Kunonga had vowed to block services led by any loyalist priests and called upon the security services to enforce his ecclesial jurisdiction.
The court ordered settlement appears not to have survived its first Sunday, however, as police had to separate the two factions following a fracas at the Cathedral in Harare.
According to an account reported by the government-backed Harare Herald, worshippers loyal to Dr. Bakare entered St. Mary’s Cathedral before Dr. Kunonga had finished his morning service.
Incensed, Dr. Kunonga remained in his cathedra—bishop’s chair—next to the altar, while the Bakare choir sang hymns. When Dr. Bakare arrived to take his 11:00 service, Dr. Kunonga confronted him in front of the pulpit, berating him for allowing his followers to break the deal. The controversial former bishop of Harare then dashed a Bible and Prayer Book from Dr. Bakare’s hands, prompting police intervention.
Zimbabwe bishop creates new church: CEN 1.18.08 p 1. January 18, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Zimbabwe.
The controversial bishop has also enlisted the aid of the government of Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe to consolidate his hold over the diocese. Armed police broke up rival worship services on Jan 13, arresting three priests and a number of lay leaders loyal to Bishop Sebastian Bakare.
In an unprecedented intervention, the Archbishop of Canterbury denounced “unequivocally the use of state machinery to intimidate opponents of the deposed bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga” in a statement released on Jan 14, and declared his support for Dr. Bakare and the Province of Central Africa in the dispute.
At a press conference held Jan 12 at the Cathedral of St Mary and All Saints, Dr. Kunonga said “history has been made today in the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe. We have formed our own province. It has been painful and sorrowful but out of that came the joy of our own province. But we are joyful that the grace of God continues to water, lead and inspire us.”
The new province encompasses greater Harare, and would be divided into five dioceses: the Diocese of Harare under Dr. Kunonga, and the new Dioceses of East, Central and West Mashonaland and Chitungwiza. Dr. Kunonga has appointed vicar-generals for the four new dioceses and charged them to convene synods to elect bishops.
In a report of the press conference published by the government backed Harare Sunday Mail, Dr. Kunonga predicted the end to the parish by parish fight for control he was waging against Dr. Bakare.
“After the several meetings that we had, the skirmishes will be a thing of the past. No unlicensed priest will go and conduct a church service at any parish. No parallel services will be allowed in the parishes,” Dr. Kunonga said.
“The board of trustees of the Diocese of Harare is the custodian of all properties of the diocese and no one other than licensed personnel will be allowed to use our facilities,” he added.
Dr. Kunonga’s threat appears to have come to pass, as police wielding batons broke up over 20 worship services led by loyalist priests. At St. Elizabeth’s in Belvedere, “they disrupted the service and asked everyone to leave. One woman who was taking a video was arrested,” a spokesman for Dr. Bakare, the Rev. Christopher Tapera told DPA via telephone from Harare.
At St James Church in the suburb of Warren Park, 16 parishioners loyal to Bishop Bakare were arrested, as was a priest at the parish in Marlborough, while worshippers at Harare’s Cathedral loyal to the Province were given ten minutes to vacate the parish hall or be jailed for unlawful assembly by the police.
On Jan 9 police met with representatives of the two factions, warning them against further public disputes. After the meeting, police posted a warning, saying only priests loyal to Dr. Kunonga would be allowed to lead public worship services in Harare, according to the Sunday Mail.
Dr. Williams said he was “appalled” by the police action and applauded the witness of Harare “clergy [who] have publicly and bravely refused to acknowledge Kunonga’s Episcopal authority.”
Lambeth Palace reported Dr. Williams “stands in solidarity” and the other “loyal Zimbabwean bishops in supporting the acting Bishop of Harare, Bishop Sebastian Bakare.”
ACC Secretary General Canon Kenneth Kearon said he also was “concerned for the well-being of faithful Anglicans who seek to practice their faith in peace and free from violence.”
“Dr. Kunonga’s “close ties with President Robert Mugabe is of deep concern to many and the resort to violent disruption has been widely deplored,” he added.
Lambeth Palace noted Dr. Kunonga’s “position has become increasingly untenable within the Anglican Church over the last year, as he has consistently refused to maintain appropriate levels of independence from the Zimbabwean Government.”
He had not been invited to the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and was not recognized as a Bishop of the Anglican Communion “after illegally separating from the Province of Central Africa and installing himself as archbishop of Zimbabwe” in December.
Plans for the division of the Province of Central Africa into national churches for Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe were discussed at the Sept 10 provincial synod in Malawi. Provincial Secretary the Rev. Eston Pembamayo told The Church of England Newspaper, however, the weakness of the Zimbabwe church was what has held back the division into national churches.
Bishop Bakare’s spokesman told DPA the country’s other four Anglican bishops were in Masvingo to discuss the creation of a national province. However, they were distanced themselves from Dr. Kunonga’s unilateral declaration of independence.
“We are going to follow the proper procedure. You cannot just wake up and announce that you have pulled out of a province hence you are forming a new one. Bishop Kunonga can form the province of Kunonga or whatever he calls it and we don’t care,” Fr. Tapera said.
Factional fighting rocks Church in Zimbabwe: CEN 1.08.08 January 9, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Zimbabwe.
| THE BATTLE for the Diocese of Harare is being fought church by church, as factions loyal to ousted bishop Nolbert Kunonga (pictured) and new bishop Sebastian Bakare fight for control of the diocese.
Christmas services in Marlborough, Harare, were stopped after a pro-Kunonga priest — said to be an agent of Mugabe’s secret police, the CIO — began to beat a worshipper who was praying for the well-being of Dr Bakare, according to a Dec 26 report by the Voice of America.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
Minister praises Dr. Sentamu: CEN 1.04.08 p 4 January 4, 2008Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of York, Church of England Newspaper, House of Lords, Zimbabwe.
The Foreign Office Minister for Africa has commended the Archbishop of York for his support of democracy in Zimbabwe. Lord Malloch-Brown (pictured) backed Dr. John Sentamu’s words on Zimbabwe, and told Parliament on Dec 17 Britain will continue to support democracy in the beleaguered African nation.
During the debate on the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon last week, the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt. Rev. Tom Butler asked whether the “cutting up of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York’s clerical collar live on television as a protest was a helpful gesture?”
“I certainly do, my Lords; I just wish that I was bold enough to cut up my fine necktie too,” he said.
Britain’s representative to the EU-Africa summit, Lady Amos laid “out unequivocally [Zimbabwe's] disastrous economic and human rights situation” to the summit delegates. “There was no ambiguity” from Britain on this point, Lord Malloch-Brown.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government stood “four-square behind honest and fair elections in Zimbabwe. It is not enough for President Mugabe to agree to a piece of paper as a result of this mediation; he must be seen to change the laws and respect them and to allow genuinely free and fair elections”
“If those do not occur, we will in no way lessen-rather, we will increase-our objections to the Government of President Mugabe,” Lord Malloch-Brown assured Parliament.
Mugabe press hits out at Dr Sentamu: CEN 12.21.07 p 8 December 21, 2007Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of York, Church of England Newspaper, Politics, Zimbabwe.
The Archbishop of York has been savaged as a race traitor and an “ill-informed animal” by Zimbabwe following his public call for Robert Mugabe to step down.The Harare Herald, the Mugabe-regime’s media voice, on Dec 12 said Dr. John Sentamu was a “foolish and idiotic African.”
However, the archbishop’s condemnation of the President Mugabe has won plaudits from Western newspapers and the support of the Zimbabwe expatriate community and democracy activists.
The Archbishop’s pledge on Dec 9 not to wear his clergy collar so long as Mugabe remained in power was a “stunt” and a “piece of propaganda for the BBC,” the Herald stated.
Dr. Sentamu was ill informed about the conditions in Zimbabwe, the government newspaper stated. “The peasants are flourishing on the farms that President Mugabe expropriated,” it said, and are “smiling and happy.”
The Archbishop’s animus towards the regime arose from racial self-hatred and a desire to ingratiate himself with the West, the Herald said.
“Whites stand united in their fight against President Mugabe because he took back land seized from blacks by their kith and kin,” the newspaper said. “Some blacks, seeking fame and praise seem to justify this race hate by their uninformed hate for their own black brother, President Mugabe.”
“President Mugabe is our most eloquent gatekeeper” protecting the nation from the rapacious inroads of white colonialists, the Herald argued.
Democracy activists have applauded Dr. Sentamu’s show of solidarity. One exiled Anglican priest told The Church of England Newspaper that the African-born archbishop’s actions helped focus attention upon the crimes of the regime. A spokesman for the Church of England said the accusations were “ludicrous”.
‘God sent Mugabe’: CEN 12.21.07 p 8. December 21, 2007Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Politics, Zimbabwe.
“We went to war with the British over land and that is the reason we shall continue fighting” against UK-led attempts to destabilize the regime, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga told a Ugandan newspaper on Dec 3.
Robert Mugabe, he declared, had been “chosen by God to be an agent of redistributing and transferring land from the Western world to the African people.”
Dr. Kunonga argued the international response to Mugabe’s land policies was racist. “When 20 whites die while resisting removal from African farmlands, the issue is exaggerated,” he declared, adding that “nobody talked” about the black Africans killed during the war in Rhodesia.
“Even our fellow Africans have been prejudiced,” he said, as “they compare Mugabe to Idi Amin.”
The former bishop of Harare, who was removed from office in November by Church of Central Africa, defended the use of violence. “The church needs the Police to protect it. You do not need to advocate violence in church, but the Police may use it to protect you.”
He conceded “some people are being bashed on the heads” by the police, but argued democracy activists had instigated the violence. “If you go to a Police camp and start fighting there, you get beaten. The Police are not just for maintaining peace, but also for enforcement of law and order.”
“There are no people being killed in Zimbabwe” by the government, he said.
The controversial bishop’s view of Mugabe’s police differs from that presented by Amnesty International (AI).
“We have collected evidence from a wide range of sources, including victims, doctors and lawyers, showing how some units – particularly the Law and Order Section – within the Zimbabwean police enjoy total impunity for human rights violations perpetrated against government critics,” said AI researcher Simeon Mawanza on Dec 14.
Once jailed, human rights activists and members of the opposition MDC – Movement for Democratic Change — are “severely assaulted and denied access to lawyers, food and medical care,” AI said.
Last week’s EU-Africa summit in Lisbon turned out badly for the Zimbabwe strongman as Africa backed away from one time firm support. The President of Senegal was the sole African voice offering public support for Mugabe, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other EU leaders chided him on his country’s human rights record.
Archbishop in TV protest over Mugabe: CEN 12.10.07 December 10, 2007Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of York, Church of England Newspaper, Zimbabwe.
|THE ARCHBISHOP of York has called for the international community to drive Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe from power.
In a statement of sartorial solidarity, Dr John Sentamu flourished a pair of scissors and snipped his clergy collar during an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Dec 9, saying he would not wear one until Mugabe stood down.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
Bishop of Harare lashes out at the Queen’s role: CEN 12.07.07 p 8. December 6, 2007Posted by geoconger in British Foreign Policy, Church of England Newspaper, Zimbabwe.
While Dr. Nolbert Kunonga’s ties to the Mugabe regime continue to hold, support among the clergy of the diocese appears to be falling away, as several churches are closing their doors to him.
On Nov 21, Dr. Kunonga led a group of Mugabe loyalists and “war veterans” in an attempted disruption of a talk by Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai at Kampala’s Grand Imperial Hotel.
Midway through the presentation sponsored by the Royal Commonwealth Society on the situation in Zimbabwe, Dr. Kunonga and his men rose, denouncing Tsvangirai as a puppet of white colonialists and walked out of the meeting.
Speaking to journalists in the hallway, Dr. Kunonga said “The West should stop demonising Mr. Mugabe. He is a man who democratically redistributed land which the white man had taken away,” according to an account printed in the Daily Monitor.
The MDC leader was a tool of “the interests of the white farmer” and did not speak for the “ordinary Zimbabwean,” Dr. Kunonga charged. Robert Mugabe was the democratically elected leader of Zimbabwe, the bishop said, adding there “are no human rights abuses in Zimbabwe at all.”
Britain was behind a campaign of lies, smearing Zimbabwe, Dr. Kunonga said, who singled out Queen Elizabeth for special opprobrium. The Queen was the “greatest exploiter of all times” and is “just a magic of the West,” he said.
While his stock remains high with the Mugabe regime, who in 2005 gave him a farm confiscated from a white commercial farmer, Dr. Kunonga appears to be losing the support of his diocese.
The London-based expatriate newspaper The Zimbabwean reported that on Nov 25, Mai Kunonga, the wife of Bishop Kunonga, was rebuffed by the clergy of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Harare when she attempted to sit on the bishop’s throne during Sunday Eucharist services.
Mrs. Kunonga was rebuffed at two other churches that Sunday, The Zimbabwean reported, and subsequent threats issued by her husband have not persuaded the clergy to accept his authority.
Published in The Church of England Newspaper.
Bakare ‘confirmed as bishop’: CEN 11.30.07 p 8. November 28, 2007Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Zimbabwe.
The former Bishop of Manicaland, Dr. Sebastian Bakare has been confirmed in office as acting bishop of the diocese of Harare.
On Nov 20, the Dean of the Province of Central Africa, Bishop Albert Chama of Northern Zambia wrote to the bishops of the Province informing them that the former Bishop of Manicaland, Dr. Sebastian Bakare had agreed to take up the one year appointment, made vacant by the dismissal last month of Dr. Nolbert Kunonga.
“So far the news has been received well in Harare by those clergy and the faithful who are identifying themselves as Anglicans in the Province of Central Africa,” Bishop Chama wrote. “Please continue to uphold them in your prayers as they take up this very hard task.”
On Nov 7 the Bishop Chama appointed Dr. Bakare as vicar-general. However the lack of funds to pay his stipend of £750 a month, led to the Nov 14 appointment of Bishop Leonard Mwenda as “caretaker of the diocese.”
The financial impasse appears to have been rectified, as Dr. Bakare began work last week, meeting with the Diocesan and Provincial Chancellors. According to an as yet unconfirmed report published by ZimDaily, Dr. Bakare and the chancellors resolved that Dr. Kunonga and the clergy supporting “his campaign to destablise” the diocese and unseat him were “no longer recognised by the Church of the Province of Central Africa.”
The new diocesan leadership also urged each congregation to take steps to secure its parish property, and announced a parish visitation programme by Dr. Bakare to explain the situation and to “give them courage during this trying time.”
Bishop Chama also stated that no vicar-general had yet been appointed for the diocese of Manicaland following the Oct 19 dismissal of its bishop, Elson Jakazi.
He urged the Central African bishops to remain together amidst the disparate pressures facing the church, writing “we need to remain united as shepherds called by God to tend his flock, and remain praying for each other for strength and courage as we do our Episcopal Ministry.”
Kunonga hits out at his critics: CEN 11.23.07 p 7. November 24, 2007Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Zimbabwe.
Last month, Dr. Kunonga addressed a meeting of disgruntled members of the Diocese of Botswana at St. Stephen’s church in Francistown. In an account of the meeting published on Nov 4 in the Zimbabwe Sunday Mail, clergy and lay participants at the rally backed Dr. Kunonga in his dispute with the Province and denounced their own bishop for allegedly being pro-gay.
“We have passed a vote of no confidence in Bishop [Trevor] Mwamba because his values and ours are at variance. We don’t support homosexuality,” one participant told the Mail. Dr. Kunonga has also denounced Bishop Mwamba, calling him a “secret homosexual” and an agent of Western influence in the Province, and has used the Zimbabwe state media to publicize his attacks against his opponents.
Bishop Mwamba has denied Dr. Kunonga’s accusations, saying they are a cloak for his political ambitions, while Bishop James Tengatenga of Southern Malawi told CEN Dr. Kunonga was a “liar.”
On Nov 19 the diocesan secretary of Botswana, Fr. Benjamin Moleko released a statement disputing press claims that the diocese had passed a vote of no confidence their bishop. “This was not a legitimate meeting of any of the structures of the Diocese of Botswana. Whatever was decided in that meeting does not bind the Diocese of Botswana in any way,” he said.
Fr. Moleko said it was “unheard of that a Bishop from another Diocese could enter the jurisdiction of another Bishop and hold a meeting without his invitation.” Bishop Mwamba backed the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10, the diocesan secretary said, and was “by no means pro-homosexual.”
However, Bishop Mwamba believed “Africa has too many problems (poverty, HIV/AIDS, poor governance, unemployment, etc) to sort out than to spend a lot of time and energy on homosexuality issues, which do not impact on the day-to-day lives of many struggling African people,” he said.
Harare remains without a bishop after plans to appoint the retired Bishop of Manicaland to oversee the troubled diocese collapsed this week.
On Nov 7 the Dean of the Province of Central Africa, Bishop Albert Chama of Northern Zambia appointed Bishop Sebastian Bakare to serve as vicar-general of the diocese in the wake of the ouster of Bishop Nolbert Kunonga. However, in a letter to the diocese distributed last week, Bishop Chama reported that Dr. Bakare would not be taking up the post as the Province could not afford to pay him a monthly stipend of £750.
Dr. Bakare’s withdrawal had left the Province “without an option but to appoint another” bishop. “As Dean of the Church of the Province of Central Africa, I hereby appoint Bishop [Leonard] Mwenda to be caretaker of the Diocese of Harare in the Church of the Province of Central Africa with effect from November, 14 2007.”
The former Bishop of Lusaka, Bishop Mwenda had been appointed interim bishop of Lake Malawi by the former primate of Central Africa, Archbishop Bernard Malango. However, partisans of London vicar the Rev. Nicholas Henderson—whose election as bishop was rejected by the Province’s House of Bishop—made Bishop Mwenda’s tenure untenable, forcing his withdrawal.
“May you support him and arrange for his accommodation and transport facilities as Bishop Mwenda prepares to come from Zambia to Zimbabwe soon. We regret the confusion, but my brothers and sisters remain focused and shame the devil in these trying times,” Bishop Chama wrote.
Uncertainty has clouded the Diocese of Harare since Dr. Kunonga’s dismissal as bishop last month. The controversial former Bishop of Harare remains in possession of the diocese’s assets, and a rump meeting of synod has given him its loyalty.
However the emergency synod called by Dr. Kunonga on Oct 20 to endorse his usurpation of power and pull the diocese out of the province, has been dismissed as uncanonical by the diocesan chancellor, Robert Stumbles.
Mr. Stumbles told The Church of England Newspaper that at the start of the emergency meeting the diocese’s acting registrar stated that “the canons and laws of the Province would not apply” to this gathering.
“Where no procedure existed Dr Kunonga would determine how to deal with proceedings,” the synod was told, adding that the requirement of a 90 day notice of the calling of synod had been waived by Dr. Kunonga.
Mr. Stumbles reported that the vote to withdraw from the Province did not follow the diocesan canons. Canon law required a vote by orders, with a two thirds majority in the House of Laity required before a vote was taken in the House of Clergy.
“The acting registrar refused to follow this procedure” Mr. Stumbles said, and a voice vote was taken. The registrar called for those in favour to say “aye” but did not call for “nay” votes or abstentions” he noted.
The government backed Harare Herald ridiculed Bishop Bakare for not accepting the post, saying even the offer of a mansion in the “posh Borrowdale suburb also failed to sway Bishop Bakare into taking up the post.”
However the government of President Robert Mugabe has inserted itself into the dispute, with the courts delaying action against Dr. Kunonga. The Zimbabwean, an expatriate London-based newspaper, last week charged that the secret police were backing Dr. Kunonga and had been present at the emergency synod meeting that purported to pull the diocese out of the Province of Central Africa.
Water threat looms in Zimbabwe: CEN 11.16.07 p 7. November 18, 2007Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Disaster Relief, NGOs, Politics, Zimbabwe.
Four of the five reservoirs that supply the city of 1.5 million have run dry, and the government has refused to come to the people’s aid unless the opposition led Bulawayo city council turns over the city’s water department to the control of the Zimbabwe National Water Authority.
“Churches in Bulawayo”, an interfaith alliance, has stepped in with the support of the city by setting up water tanks at churches to supply potable water for the city’s residents: a solution that observers see as too little too late.
“The crisis in Bulawayo has seen people scavenging for filthy water from hand-dug pits and broken pipes,” Tearfund’s international director Peter Grant said. “People are living on nothing more than cups of tea with the last of their maize meal now gone,” he said.
Water and sewer revenues generated almost 80 percent of the city’s income last year. Turning over the water department the national government would cripple one of the last opposition strongholds to the Mugabe regime, and would do little to resolve the crisis as the regime has no foreign currency reserves to fund construction projects to alleviate the shortage.
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York estimates that Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate exceeds 10,000 percent, four of every five adults are jobless, and that gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has shrunk by over 46 percent since 1998.
The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that more than one-third of all Zimbabweans will need food assistance by early 2008. Approximately three million Zimbabweans have fled their country, accounting for roughly one-quarter of the total population. Remittances from expatriates, international food aid, and support from churches and NGOs keep the country alive, the CFR said.
“Zimbabwe doesn’t have to be like this.” Mr. Grant said. “Churches are working tirelessly to bridge the gap, meeting the acute need. Despite the spiralling economic crisis they are bringing relief and hope. But they urgently need our help for this work to continue.”
Kunonga rallies supporters: CEN 11.09.07 p 5. November 10, 2007Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Zimbabwe.
CLERGY supporters of Dr Nolbert Kunonga have issued a statement of solidarity with their controversial bishop, rejecting his deposition by the Church of the Province of Central Africa.
Rumours and speculation are rife in the Harare diocese, with a delay of at least three months anticipated before a court will hear a petition asking that Dr Kunonga be compelled to turn over the diocesan assets to the Province.
Critics of Dr Kunonga say he is using the delay to solidify his hold over the diocese. The Zimbabwean, a London-based expatriate newspaper, said the secret police had entered the fray in his support. The paper reported that members of the CIO, the Central Intelligence Organisation, had pressured synod members to support Dr Kunonga.
“We have been getting several uninvited guests from the president’s office clearly wanting to influence the course of events in favour of Kunonga,” a diocesan council member told the newspaper.
In an Oct 29 public letter to the Dean of the Province, theKunonga clergy said that Bishop Albert Chama had no authority to supplant him, as the Synod had authorised the secession of the diocese. However, Harare Chancellor Mr Robert Stumbles last month told CEN the emergency synod was unlawful.
On Oct 25 the Zimbabwe Independent reported that the former Bishop of Manicaland, Dr Sebastian Bakare had been appointed vicar-general of Harare. The Kunonga clique said they would not recognise Dr Bakare’s appointment.
Kunonga supporter, the Rev Morris Brown Gwedegwe told the CEN the controversial bishop had not acted alone. The Harare diocese had said ‘no to homosexuality’ and Bishop Kunonga was merely ‘responding to people’s wish’ to pull out of the Province.
However, the Provincial Secretary of Central Africa said it was not possible for Harare to make a unilateral declaration of independence.
Henderson Supporters Protest in Lake Malawi: CEN 10.26.07 p 6 October 26, 2007Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa.
Supporters of London vicar Nicholas Henderson disrupted a meeting of the diocese of Lake Malawi last week, protesting plans by the church leaders to hold new elections for a bishop.
On Oct 20 clergy and lay leaders of the diocese met with the Dean of the Province, Bishop Albert Chama, Provincial Secretary Fr. Eston Pembamayo and the diocese’s vicar-general Canon Bright Mkoko to lay out plans for new elections in light of the decision last month by the Province’s House of Bishops to deny any further appeal of the rejection of Mr. Henderson’s election as bishop.
Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.
Church in bid to remove Dr. Kunonga: CEN 10.26.07 p 5. October 25, 2007Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Zimbabwe.
Central Africa has removed the Bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga, from the ranks of the Church’s bishops.
In a statement released on Oct 19, the Dean of the Province, Bishop Albert Chama of Northern Zambia, stated Dr. Kunonga and Manicaland Bishop Elson Jakazi “were no longer bishops of the Church of the Province of Central Africa.”
On Sept 21 and 23, Dr. Kunonga and Bishop Jakazi wrote to Archbishop Bernard Malango saying their dioceses had withdrawn from Central Africa in protest to what they alleged was a pro-gay bias in the Province.
Bishop Chama responded that it was “was impossible for them to withdraw the Dioceses of Harare and Manicaland” from the Province under the terms of Central Africa’s constitution unless it had been authorized by a two-thirds vote of the Provincial Synod.
The final decision rested with “the Archbishop of Canterbury,” Bishop Chama said, as Dr. Williams must determine whether the secession affected “the terms of Communion between the Church of this Province, the Church of England and the rest of the Anglican Communion.”
The sees of Harare and Manicaland were thus declared vacant “with immediate effect” and Vicar-Generals would be appointed to supervise the election of new bishops, Bishop Chama wrote.
On Oct 21, a Zimbabwe court declined to issue an emergency injunction on behalf of the Province that would have forced Dr. Kunonga to turn over the Diocesan assets. Justice Alfas Chitakunye ruled the pleading failed to adequately show that an emergency injunction was necessary, the government-backed Harare Herald reported, and directed the Province to file a replevin action if it sought control of the assets.
Dr. Kunonga told the Herald he would fight. “I do not accept that this matter should have been brought in secular court; it being a purely ecclesiastical matter,” he said.
He also stated the Diocese was seeking to align with the Anglican Church of Kenya; a statement that could not be confirmed with the Kenyan Church in Nairobi. On Oct 20 an emergency meeting of the Harare synod affirmed its support of Dr. Kunonga and backed his plans to withdraw.
However, Harare diocesan chancellor Robert Stumbles told The Church of England Newspaper the synod was invalid as proper notice had not been given to the diocese.
Dr. Kunonga has also gone on the offensive, writing to discontented clergy in other dioceses seeking to split them off from the bishops. In an Oct 11 letter to a Botswana parish seen by CEN, Dr. Kunonga urged the church to write to Bishop Chama saying it was joining Harare in leaving the Province.
Bishop Mwamba has denied Dr. Kunonga’s allegations, retorting that the former Harare bishop was using the Communion’s sex wars to further his own ambitions. A second Central African bishop was more forceful. Dr. Kunonga was a “liar” Bishop James Tengatenga of Southern Malawi told CEN.
Dr. Kunonga’s removal from the roll of bishops relieves Dr. Rowan Williams of one headache, as the Harare bishop’s invitation to the 2008 Lambeth Conference had been withheld in May pending wider “consultations” by Lambeth Palace. Queried by the CEN before the announcement of his dismissal, the ACC said Bishop Jakazi, however had been extended an invitation to Lambeth.
Two Sees in Central Africa Declared Vacant: TLC 10.22.07 October 23, 2007Posted by geoconger in Church of the Province of Central Africa, Living Church, Zimbabwe.
The Anglican Province of Central Africa has removed Bishop Nolbert Kunonga of Harare and another diocesan bishop in Zimbabwe from its college of bishops.
In a statement released on Oct. 19, the Dean of the province, Bishop Albert Chama of Northern Zambia, stated that Bishop Kunonga and Bishop Elson Jakazi of Manicaland were no longer bishops of the church and the Sees of Harare and Manicaland had been declared vacant “with immediate effect.” Vicar generals would be appointed to supervise the election of new bishops, Bishop Chama wrote.
In late September, Bishop Kunonga and Bishop Jakazi each wrote to Archbishop Bernard Malango saying their dioceses had withdrawn from Central Africa in protest to what they alleged was a pro-gay bias in the province. Since then Archbishop Malango has retired. Bishop Chama is carrying out primatial responsibilities for the province until a new primate is selected.
In his letter, Bishop Chama cited the province’s constitution, noting that changes to its membership required approval by all dioceses and two-thirds approval from the provincial synod.
Despite the removal of the two bishops, recovery of diocesan property is not assured. On Oct. 21, a Zimbabwe court declined to issue an emergency injunction on behalf of the province that would have forced Bishop Kunonga, an ally of Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe, to turn over the diocesan assets. Bishop Kunonga told the state-owned Harare Herald newspaper he would fight the province for control of church property. He was quoted saying the diocese was seeking to align with the Anglican Church of Kenya, a statement that could not be confirmed with the Kenyan Church in Nairobi.
Bishop Kunonga has also gone on the offensive, writing to discontented clergy in other dioceses seeking to split them off from their bishops. In an Oct. 11 letter sent to a Botswana parish and reviewed by The Living Church, Bishop Kunonga urged the congregation to write to Bishop Chama saying it was joining Harare in leaving the province.
Bishop Kunonga’s removal relieves Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams of one dilemma related to the Lambeth Conference. Bishop Kunonga’s invitation had been withheld pending wider consultations. Bishop Jakazi had been extended an invitation to Lambeth last May, according to a spokesperson for Archbishop Williams.
Published in The Living Church.
Archbishop Bernard Malango October 17, 2007Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Church of the Province of Central Africa.
Archbishop Bernard Malango, Primate of Central Africa and Bishop of Upper Shire. Photo taken 11.11.05
Central Africa Issues Ultimatum to Kunonga: CEN 10.19.07 p 6. October 17, 2007Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Zimbabwe.
DR KUNONGA must go, the Church of the Province of Central Africa has said,calling upon the controversial Bishop of Harare to relinquish control of diocesan assets this week or face a civil lawsuit.‘There is no justification for your continued conduct of Episcopal duties as Diocesan Bishop’ of Harare, lawyers acting on behalf of the Province told Dr Kunonga last week.
Critics of Dr Kunonga, a close ally of Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe, charge the Harare bishop with exploiting the Communion’s difficulties for his own purposes. “The issue of homosexuality [is] simply a cover for the real underlying issue: a quest for power,” the Bishop of Botswana, Trevor Mwamba said.
Dr Kunonga has claimed that in August his Diocesan Synod voted to quit the province over its alleged support of homosexuality. However, the Harare Diocesan Chancellor tells The Church of England Newspaper that while Dr Kunonga may have quit the Province, the diocese did not.
The Chancellor, Robert Stumbles, stated last week no such resolution was adopted. Dr Kunonga’s purported secession resolution ‘appeared after Synod’ and had ‘not been on the agenda.’
Motion 8c dealt with ‘finalising the Diocesan Acts not severing relationships,’ he said, adding that even if the ‘off the Agenda resolution’ had been ‘lawfully passed by Synod, which is questionable, it has several flaws. Nowhere does it categorically empower the Bishop to sever relations with the Church of the Province of Central Africa.’
At no time did the Harare Synod give Dr Kunonga ‘absolute authority to drag the Diocese out of the Province,’ said Mr Stumbles.
Dr Kunonga’s actions were ‘tantamount to a schism’ Bishop Mwamba said last month. “The next logical step is for the Bishop of Harare to resign. The See of the Diocese of Harare will then be declared vacant and a new Bishop elected to replace Dr Kunonga.
“The schismatic group should not be under any illusion in thinking that they have title to the properties and various Trusts legally vested in the Diocese of Harare,” he said.
Lawyers have now asked him to surrender the diocese’s vehicles, bank accounts, books of account and real estate which were ‘held in trust by the Diocesan Trust for the benefit of the diocese of Harare but remain the property of our client, Church of the Province of Central Africa.’
Should Dr Kunonga fail to comply, the Province said it would pursue civil legal remedies.
Provincial Leaders Tell Harare Bishop to Resign: TLC 10.16.07 October 17, 2007Posted by geoconger in Church of the Province of Central Africa, Living Church, Zimbabwe.
The Rt. Rev. Norbert Kunonga must go, leaders of the Anglican Province of Central Africa said, calling upon the controversial Bishop of Harare to relinquish control of diocesan assets by Oct. 16 or face a civil lawsuit.
“There is no justification for your continued conduct of episcopal duties as diocesan Bishop” of Harare, lawyers acting on behalf of the province told Bishop Kunonga last week.
In a letter to Archbishop Bernard Malango dated Sept. 21, Bishop Kunonga said that Harare had quit the province over the issue of homosexuality, citing the Aug. 4 passage by the diocese of Pastoral Motion 8c which he said authorized secession.
However Harare diocesan chancellor Robert Stumbles told The Living Church no such resolution was adopted. Bishop Kunonga’s purported secession resolution “appeared after synod” and had “not been on the agenda.” At no time did the Harare synod give Bishop Kunonga “absolute authority to drag the diocese out of the province,” he said.
Bishop Kunonga’s actions were “tantamount to a schism,” Bishop Trevor Mwamba of Botswana told TLC on Sept. 22.
“The next logical step is for the Bishop of Harare to resign,” he said. “The See of the Diocese of Harare will then be declared vacant and a new bishop elected to replace Bishop Kunonga. The schismatic group should not be under any illusion in thinking that they have title to the properties and various trusts legally vested in the Diocese of Harare.”
The letter to Archbishop Malango by Bishop Kunonga followed a controversy-plagued provincial synod on Sept. 10. The province consists of 15 dioceses in Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In their letter to Bishop Kunonga, the province’s solicitors, Gill, Godlonton & Gerrans of Harare wrote “that despite your withdrawal from our client [the Church of the Province of Central Africa] you continue to conduct episcopal duties in the diocese of Harare and administrative business at our client’s premises at Paget House.”
He was asked to surrender the diocese’s automobiles, bank accounts, books of account and real estate which were “held in trust by the diocesan trust for the benefit of the Diocese of Harare but remain the property of our client, Church of the Province of Central Africa.”
Should Bishop Kunonga fail to comply with the province’s request, the letter said the province would pursue civil legal remedies.
Published in the Living Church
Anglicans Move to Expel Kunonga: RI 10.17.07 October 17, 2007Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Zimbabwe.
| DR KUNONGA must go, the Church of the Province of Central Africa has said, calling upon the controversial Bishop of Harare to relinquish control of diocesan assets by Oct 16 or face a civil lawsuit.
“There is no justification for your continued conduct of Episcopal duties as Diocesan Bishop” of Harare, lawyers acting on behalf of the Province told Dr Kunonga last week.
Read it all in the Church of England’s on line section “Religious Intelligence”
The Diocese of Manicaland has denounced alleged attempts by Western homosexuals to subvert the Church in Zimbabwe, and has joined the Bishop of Harare in quitting the Province of Central Africa.
In a Sept 23 letter to Archbishop Bernard Malango, Bishop Elson Jakazi of Manicaland said his diocese was pulling out of the Province due to its soft stand on homosexuality. However, critics of Bishop Jakazi charged the move was motivated by Zimbabwean politics and solidarity with Harare Bishop Nolbert Kunonga and not the Communion’s divisions over homosexuality.
Dr. Nolbert Kunonga of Harare
The bishops of Zimbabwe’s three other dioceses denied the accusations, telling their dioceses the topic of homosexuality had not been raised during the Sept 8 session of Synod.
Bishop Godfrey Tawonezvi of Masvingo, Bishop Wilson Sitshebo of Matabeleland, and Bishop Ishmael Mukuwanda of Central Zimbabwe wrote the Province “condemns homosexuality. This has always been the position of the Province and continues to be so.”
“At the just ended Provincial Synod, homosexuality was not part of the synod agenda and no bishop, priest or layperson condoned homosexuality. No homosexual lobbying by any one ever took place,” the bishops said.
Bishop Kunonga had also charged USPG President Bishop Michael Doe with lobbying the Province to change its teaching on homosexuality in return for increased aid: a charge denied by the provincial secretary Fr. Eston Pembamoyo in a statement given to The Church of England Newspaper.
Critics of the controversial Bishop of Harare charge Dr. Kunonga with exploiting the Anglican Communion’s controversies over homosexuality to solidify his hold over the diocese. A firm ally of Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe, who rewarded the bishop’s loyalty with a farm confiscated from white Zimbabwean, Dr. Kunonga has been banned from travel to the US and the EU for his complicity in the crimes of the regime.
In a rambling explanation of its actions prepared by the diocesan standing committee on Sept 22, Manicaland accused the Bishop of Botswana, Trevor Mwamba of being a tool of western colonialists, and that a plot funded by wealthy homosexuals was underway to subvert the Central African church.
The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu also came under criticism. The diocese denounced his recent harsh statements on the Mugabe regime and accused him of being “pro-homosexual.”
Bishop of Botswana says I’m not gay: CEN 9.28.07 p 8. September 27, 2007Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Politics, Zimbabwe.
The Bishop of Botswana has denied charges leveled by the controversial Bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga that the Church of the Province of Central Africa is on the verge of collapse.
In a Sept 22 statement Bishop Trevor Mwamba cited the American humorist Mark Twain writing the “Reports of [Central Africa’s] death are grossly exaggerated.”
Bishop Mwamba also denounced an interview given by the Harare Bishop to the government backed Harare Herald, where Dr. Kunonga said he was pulling the Zimbabwe dioceses out of the Province with the support of two other bishops.
Dr. Kunonga also attacked Bishop Mwamba personally, saying the Keble College trained bishop was a homosexual, and a tool of western colonialists.
Speaking to The Church of England Newspaper on Sept 19, Bishop James Tengatenga of Southern Malawi stated he could not understand why Dr. Kunonga would make such scurrilous accusations, noting the Harare Bishop, an ally of Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe, had not been entirely straight forward in his description of the Central African Synod nor of Bishop Mwamba’s character.
The Central African Synod had reaffirmed its support of the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10, Bishop Tengatenga said. Bishop Mwamba wrote that it would come as a surprise to the Province if Dr. Kunonga’s accusations that the province was pro-gay were true.
The Botswana bishop said that Dr. Kunonga’s attempt to pull his diocese out of the Province “has no legal basis” under Church law. A two-thirds vote by synod was required for Harare to pull out had not occurred. Claims that the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe backed the break were also false, he said.
“The decision taken by the Bishop of Harare is tantamount to a schism. The next logical step is for the Bishop of Harare to resign. The See of the Diocese of Harare will then be declared vacant and a new Bishop elected to replace Dr. Kunonga. The schismatic group should not be under any illusion in thinking that they have title to the properties and various Trusts legally vested in the Diocese of Harare,” Bishop Mwamba wrote.
The charges of a gay conspiracy leveled by Dr. Kunonga were “simply a cover for the real underlying issue: a quest for power.”
“The vicious slander that was being spread to tarnish the reputations of some bishops in the Province was and is intended to ensure that when the Electoral College meets to elect the next Archbishop of Central Africa these bishops will stand little chance of success,” Bishop Mwamba said, denying the charge that he was a homosexual.