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“Faithful” of Harare lauded by Canterbury: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 14, 2011 p 1. October 14, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Zimbabwe.
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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has praised the “faith and endurance” of the Anglicans of Zimbabwe in the face of persecution by “false brethren,” calling their witness an inspiration to the world.

Dr. Rowan Williams – accompanied by the primates of Central Africa, South Africa, Tanzania, and the bishops of Zimbabwe and Botswana — received an enthusiastic greeting on Oct 9 from approximately 15,000 Anglicans packed into a sports arena in Harare.  Across town outside the city’s Anglican cathedral, occupied by supporters of breakaway bishop Dr. Nolbert Kunonga, pickets denounced the archbishop with signs labeling him a colonialist and supporter of homosexuality.

One member of the congregation (who for safety reasons cannot be named) told CEN he was overjoyed by the archbishop’s visit, writing that Dr. Williams’ presence gave encouragement to the Harare’s embattled Anglicans.

God’s “purpose is justice: not an abstract idea of fairness, but a situation where every person has the fulfilment God desires for them, without interference from others,” Dr. Williams told the congregation, taking as his text Matt 22:10-11.

Addressing the persecution suffered by Anglicans at the hands of Dr. Kunonga’s supporters, the archbishop said, “You know very well, dear brothers and sisters, what it means to have doors locked in your faces by those who claim the name of Christians and Anglicans. You know how those who by their greed and violence have refused the grace of God try to silence your worship and frustrate your witness in the churches and schools and hospitals of this country.”

Yet in the midst of this oppression, the will of God “is so strong that it can triumph even over these mindless and Godless assaults. Just as the Risen Jesus breaks through the locked doors of fear and suspicion, so he continues to call you and empower you in spite of all efforts to defeat you,” the archbishop said.

The assaults upon the church had taught Zimbabwe’s Anglicans “that it is not the buildings that make a true church but the spiritual foundations on which your lives are built,” he said, urging them to hold fast.

Touching upon Zimbabwe’s turbulent history, he noted that “for a long period in this country, an anxious ruling class clung on to the power they had seized at the expense of the indigenous people and ignored their rights and their hopes for dignity and political freedom. How tragic that this should be replaced by another kind of lawlessness, where so many live in daily fear of attack if they fail to comply with what the powerful require of them.”

The faithful Christians of Zimbabwe were a model to the world, Dr. Williams said.  “Day by day, you have to face injustice and the arrogance of ‘false brethren’,” he said.

“Yet you must know that we give thanks to God for you – for your patience and generosity and endurance. Your life here is tortured by uncertainty and the constant risk of attack, yet it speaks to all of us in the worldwide Communion of the victory of Jesus Christ and the undefeated will of God to welcome people into his Kingdom and to seat them at the table of his Son so that we can celebrate the marriage of heaven and earth in the fleshly life and death and resurrection of the Lord,” the archbishop said.

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