Lambeth Palace has released this statement following the Archbishops of Canterbury, Central Africa and Southern African, and the President of the All Africa Conference of Churches the Archbishop of Tanzania meeting with Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe:
Statement by the Archbishops of Canterbury, Central Africa, and Southern Africa and the President of the All Africa Conference of Churches the Archbishop of Tanzania
In our capacities as leaders of the Anglican Church in Africa and worldwide, we have just met President Robert Mugabe.
We come here to be in solidarity with our Anglican sisters and brothers at the invitation of the local church – the Anglican Province of Central Africa, which includes the five dioceses of Zimbabwe.
As you know this has been a time of immense trial.
Since 2007 Anglican congregations in Zimbabwe have suffered serious persecution at the hands of the police. They have been intimidated. Their churches have been closed. Properties, including schools and clinics, have been seized.
As representatives of the Anglican Communion, and with the support of ecumenical friends worldwide, we strongly and unequivocally support the efforts of ordinary Anglicans to worship in peace and to minister to the spiritual and material needs of their communities.
Today we were able to present President Mugabe with a dossier compiled by the bishops in Zimbabwe which gives a full account of the abuses to which our people and our church has been subject. We have asked, in the clearest possible terms, that the President use his powers as Head of State to put an end to all unacceptable and illegal behaviour.
We are proud of our church and our people who have suffered so much, but who continue to serve with love and with hope.
For our part we pray, and invite you to join us in praying, that the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe be allowed to carry out its mission in peace, and serve its communities with love.
The Boston Globe reports:
The head of the worldwide Anglican church Monday met with Zimbabwe’s longtime ruler and criticized abuse and intimidation against his church’s worshippers in the southern African country.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is paying a two-day visit to Zimbabwe. After the meeting, he said that President Robert Mugabe told him he was not familiar with the scale of the intimidation mentioned.
The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has been divided since a breakaway bishop Nolbert Kunonga was excommunicated in 2007 for inciting violence in sermons supporting Mugabe’s party. But Kunonga says he left the Anglican church because of it position on same sex marriages.
Leaders of the global Anglican Communion have condemned gay relationships as a violation of Scripture. However, the Anglican Communion is loosely organized without one authoritative leader such as a pope, so some individual provinces have decided on their own that they should move toward accepting same-gender unions.
Mugabe is a bitter critic of homosexuality.
Williams said he presented the president with a “dossier” on the abuse and intimidation mainstream Anglicans are going through in the southern African nation.
From The Guardian:
Brave Rowan Williams did not pull any punches during his visit to Zimbabwe this week, condemning the “greed and violence” of a renegade bishop and by extension, the whole corrupt, perennially vicious Mugabe regime. It’s unfortunate British Foreign Office ministers are not similarly forthright in their public statements. All the signs indicate Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF gang are gearing up to steal another election. It’s important they be stopped.
The archbishop’s concerns about an Anglican community in Zimbabwe that is “tortured by uncertainty and risk of attack”, has endured “mindless and godless assaults”, and whose property has been arbitrarily expropriated might apply equally to MPs of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) prosecuted on trumped-up charges, harassed opposition activists and human rights champions, and, indeed, anybody at all who dares to stand up to Mugabe’s 32-year-old, army-junta-backed autocracy. Williams was due to meet Mugabe later on Monday.
The Archbishop of Canterbury on Monday asked President Robert Mugabe to end attacks on Anglicans in Zimbabwe, where a renegade bishop has forced the faithful out of their churches.
Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of Anglicans worldwide, met for two hours with Mugabe at State House to lay out his concerns about the assault on the Church that has seen even teachers and nurses chased from schools and orphanages.
“We have asked in the clearest possible terms that the president use his powers as head of state to put an end to all unacceptable and illegal behaviour,” Rowan Williams told reporters afterwards.
“It was a very candid meeting, disagreements were expressed clearly, but I think in a peaceful manner,” he said.
“We deeply deplore the manner in which many of the historic assets of the church… hospitals, schools have not only been seized by the breakaway group but are no longer used for the purpose for which were designed.”
Mugabe, who at 87 has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, made no comments either before or after the meeting.