[QODLink]
Africa
Archbishop meets Mugabe over church rift
Head of Anglicans urges president to resolve conflict between breakaway bishop and mainstream church.
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2011 17:46
Rowan Williams, left, described the meeting with Mugabe as "candid" but that there were disagreements [Reuters]


The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for an end to attacks on Anglicans in Zimbabwe, where a renegade bishop has forced the faithful out of their churches.

Rowan Williams, who held a two-hour meeting with Robert Mugabe on Monday, said he had asked the Zimbabwean president to use his powers and resolve the conflict.

"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," Williams said.

"Today we were able to present President Mugabe with a dossier compiled by bishops in Zimbabwe which gives a full account of the abuses to which our people and our church have been subject.

"It was a very candid meeting, disagreements were expressed clearly, but I think in a peaceful manner.

"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."

Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa, reporting from Harare, said Mugabe did not speak to journalists after the meeting and that he told Williams he was not aware of what was going on in the Anglican church.

Williams' meeting with Mugabe came amid a rift between excommunicated bishop Nolbert Kunonga and the mainstream Anglican church worshippers, which has resulted in the bishop's seizure of the Anglican Church's property in Harare, the capital.

Kunonga, who has praised Catholic Mugabe as a "true son of God", has claimed 3,800 properties in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries.

The bishop has also backed the president's violent land reform programme and endorsed his condemnation of homosexuality. He was excommunicated from the church over disagreements about the church's stance on gays.

But Williams said the debate over homosexuality was "a distracting tactic to take people's attention away from the real issues".

"The church of the province of central Africa shares the general Anglican Communion position on homosexuality," he said.

"That is, it is not allowed, the same-sex blessings. That it is not encouraged, the ordination of people in homosexual partnerships. And that is common ground."

On Sunday, thousands of worshippers cheered Williams as he held mass in Harare while supporters of Kunonga demonstrated outside the main cathedral in the capital.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Harare on Sunday, Kunonga said: "[Rowan Williams] is irrelevant. He has divided the Anglican Church the world over. And we're feeling the impact of the division he has created.".

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Frustration grows in Kiev as pledges to end corruption and abuse of power stagnate after Maidan Square protest.
Thousands of Houthi supporters have called for the fall of Yemen's government. But what do the Houthis really want?
New ration reductions and movement restrictions have refugees from Myanmar anxious about their future in Thailand.
US lawyers say poor translations of election materials disenfranchise Native voters.
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
join our mailing list