Anglican prelate plans visit to Zimbabwe

August 30, 2011

Canterbury, England, August 30 (ENInews)--Rowan Williams, the Archbishop
of Canterbury, is planning to visit Zimbabwe in October as part of a wider
trip to Africa and hopes to meet with President Robert Mugabe to discuss a
brutal dispute over church properties. 

Williams will be visiting Zimbabwe as well as Malawi and Zambia as part of
"a pastoral visit to show support for the Anglican church there," said
Marie Papworth, media director at Lambeth Palace in London, the Archbishop of
Canterbury's residence and office. 

Williams has requested a meeting with Mugabe, but the Zimbabwean leader's
office has not responded to date, Papworth told ENInews. 

The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has been in turmoil since 2007 after
renegade bishop Nolbert Kunonga, criticizing what he said were liberal attitudes
toward homosexuality, tried to remove the Diocese of Harare from the
Anglican Communion, the worldwide community of Anglican churches.

In 2008, Kunonga was excommunicated from the communion, but as an ally of
Mugabe he and his supporters were able to seize churches and other
properties. A recent court decision in Zimbabwe gave custody of Anglican properties
to Kunonga, whose henchmen began harassing worshippers and evicting
priests from rectories. One priest was severely beaten when he refused to leave
his house, the diocese reported.

The current bishop, recognized by the Anglican Communion, is Chad Gandiya.
He told the Harare Daily News that "there are parishioners being banned
from church buildings by Kunonga with help of the police. They are
worshipping in open spaces, under trees or booking other church buildings."

The diocese has appealed the 4 August ruling by Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku.