Viewpoint: Catholic priest defends beleaguered Anglicans in Zimbabwe

A Jesuit priest working in Zimbabwe speaks up on behalf of the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe, caught up in a dispute with supporters of the rebel former bishop Kunonga. Fr Oskar Wermter SJ writes:

The Anglicans are still being politically abused by the party that continues to rule in contradiction to the General Political Agreement which promised to restore the rule of law.

Most unfortunately, leaders of other Christian churches remain silent and do not declare their solidarity with suffering fellow Christians because they are under the erroneous impression that this is an internal affair of the Anglican Church in which they, naturally, should not get involved.

But the Anglican Church has settled the issue long ago. Nolbert Kunonga was removed from the Harare Diocese and excommunicated. There are no two factions within the Church of the Province of Central Africa. Kunonga, the clergy loyal to him and a few lay members are no longer part of the Anglican communion. There is no dispute within the Anglican Church.

There is a High Court decision which must be adhered to for the time being: the members of the Anglican Church Province of Central Africa (CPCA, under Bishop Chad Gandiya) must have access to church assets just as the followers of Nolbert Kunonga until a final and definite decision is taken about who owns these assets. Kunonga, not being Anglican bishop of Harare any more, has no right to control the assets of the diocese (churches, church premises, etc). It is mischievous for government (through the ZRP) to support Kunonga and bar the Anglican Church proper from its churches and church premises.

Some churches, including Catholic parishes, are playing host to displaced Anglican congregations and associations when asked to do so. There is at least some quiet solidarity at ground level.

Tags: Fr Oskar Wermter SJ, Kunonga, Zimbabwe

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