Anglican chiefs seek end to harassment in Zimbabwe

2011-01-31 11:01

Leaders of the Anglican Communion have written an open letter to Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe calling for an end to harassment of church members.

The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has been divided since Nolbert Kunonga, a supporter of Mugabe who has been accused of supporting political violence, lost a bid for re-election as bishop of Harare in 2007.

After the election, he set up an independent Anglican Harare diocese.

In the letter released yesterday, archbishops who head Anglican churches say they “have been deeply distressed to hear of the continuing bullying, harassment, and persecution being suffered by their brothers and sisters in Christ in the Diocese of Harare and beyond”.

They cited an incident on January 16 when they said priests associated with Kunonga, backed by police and riot police, harassed the congregation of St Andrew’s Church in Chipadze.

“We believe that the appalling situation experienced by members of the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe seriously infringes their right to justice, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and personal security under the law guaranteed by the constitution of Zimbabwe and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights,” the letter said.

The Anglican leaders ended their five-day meeting in Dublin yesterday. Several African church leaders declined to attend, objecting to the presence of the leader of the US Episcopal Church, but Archbishop Rowan Williams, the leader of the Communion, said about two-thirds of the primates participated.

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