Arab Today, arab today anglican leader urges mugabe to end attacks on his flock
Last Updated : GMT 11:50:29
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Anglican leader urges Mugabe to end attacks on his flock

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Anglican leader urges Mugabe to end attacks on his flock

London - AFP

The Archbishop of Canterbury 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. Williams later met with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe's long-time rival who joined a unity government two years ago. "The police must perform their duties in a non-partisan way. Cabinet made that decision very clearly that when it comes to praying the state has no role in the church but protect people when they do pray," Tsvangirai said. Renegade bishop and Mugabe ally Nolbert Kunonga broke away from the Anglican Communion three years ago in a dispute over homosexuality. His new grouping seized all the Church's property and forcefully evicted Anglicans from their places of worship. Kunonga, who has praised Catholic Mugabe as a "true son of God", has backed the president's violent land reform programme and endorsed his condemnation of homosexuality. "Rowan Williams erred by accepting homosexuality and that has broken up the Church all over," Kunonga said in the state-run Herald newspaper. "It's sad, they should repent, it needs Williams himself to repent. He is the one who has divided the Church," he said. 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." Williams has used his Zimbabwe trip to try and bolster the spirits of the embattled Anglican community, telling worshippers in Harare on Sunday: "The will of God will triumph over these mindless and godless assaults." Kunonga is among Mugabe's closest aides who are the target of travel bans and asset freezes imposed by Western nations in protest at a decade of violently flawed elections. Mugabe is renowned for his anti-gay stance and has described gays and lesbians as "worse than pigs and dogs". Williams has struggled to maintain unity in the Anglican communion amid disagreements over the ordination of female bishops in Britain, and of openly gay bishops in the United States. The Church of England said in July it was reviewing its approach to same-sex relationships, an issue that has threatened to tear the Church apart -- particularly in Africa where many leaders are more conservative than their European counterparts. Williams began his three-nation African tour in Malawi to mark the Church's 150th anniversary in that country. After two days in Zimbabwe, he is set to travel to Zambia on Tuesday, before returning home Thursday.

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