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Controversy Stirred Before Zimbabwe Visit by Archibishop of Canterbury


Controversy has already been stirred by former Harare Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, who has dismissed the visit as a planned attempt to "lobby for homosexuality and neo-colonialism."

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, leader of the world's Anglicans, is expected this week in Harare on what he has called a pastoral visit but which many believe will be an attempt to end the rift in Zimbabwe’s Anglican church.

But controversy already has been stirred by former Harare Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, who has dismissed the visit as a planned attempt to "lobby for homosexuality and neo-colonialism."

Kunonga was ex-communicated by the church but controls its properties in the diocese. He called Williams "a British civil servant” named by Queen Elizabeth and the British Prime Minister.

"He is coming to represent neo-colonialism," said Kunonga. "He is coming to lobby for homosexuality and for him it is a timely move as we are making our Constitution."

"He is on the wrong side of the scriptures and commits blasphemy."

Williams’ spokeswoman, Marie Papworth, said that there will be no respond to Kunonga's charges. She said the Archbishop’s staff is waiting for a response from President Mugabe on his meeting request.

Earlier this year Williams sent Mr. Mugabe an open letter urging him to stop persecution of Anglicans.

Williams said he was "deeply distressed" to hear of bullying, harassment, and persecution of Anglicans supporting the official Church in the Diocese of Harare and further afield. Williams is the most senior public figure from Britain to visit Zimbabwe in a decade.

Kunonga spokesman Bishop Alfred Munyanyi said Williams has already taken sides, lining up with Anglican Bishop Chad Gandiya.

He told VOA Studio 7 that the Archbishop should have extended an invitation to the Kunonga faction to attend his service in the City Sports Center on Sunday or at least to a meeting for discussions.

Bishop Gandiya dismissed those allegations saying Kunonga should not feel slighted as it was his decision to leave the church.

Christian Council general secretary Solomon Zwana said his organisation has sought a meeting with Williams to advise him on how to succesfully engage with various religious groups in Zimbabwe.

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