HARARE (Reuters) - The head of the worldwide Anglican Church met Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe Monday to hand him a dossier of abuses against the church and its priests in Zimbabwe and demand an end to a campaign of persecution.
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was greeted by thousands of Anglicans in Harare Sunday and delivered a hard-hitting sermon criticising seizures of Church property and harassment of its followers by members of a breakaway church.
Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, a Mugabe supporter excommunicated by the church, has secured a court ruling giving his breakaway faction custody of all Anglican Church’s assets in Zimbabwe.
He has used the ruling to take over church hospitals and schools, eject bishops and officials from church buildings, and force Anglicans who remain loyal to the worldwide church to worship in private schools and halls.
“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 told journalists at a Harare hotel after a meeting with Mugabe that lasted more than 90 minutes.
Kunonga says he formed the breakaway faction to rid the church of homosexuality. But Williams said Kunonga’s allegations were a distraction from the real problems in Zimbabwe that caused the split.
“I think the scale of intimidation documented in the dossier was something that he (Mugabe) was actually not entirely familiar (with),” he said.
“He expressed his concerns at the damage the division was doing to communities generally in Zimbabwe and he is willing to speak to Dr Kunonga to raise the concerns that we had flagged up this afternoon.”
Mugabe did not speak to journalists.
Additional reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by Kevin Liffey