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» » » Anglicans side with Catholics in row with Govt

Arch Bishop Mutamiri of Harare

Upenyu Chaota

The Anglican Council of Zimbabwe (ACZ) has sprung to the defence of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) saying government could not continue pretending that everything was alright when the country was in a crisis.

This is contained in a letter dated August 24, 2020 and signed by Ignatios Makumbe the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe chairperson (Diocese of Central Zimbabwe), Godfrey Tawonezvi (Diocese of Masvingo), Cleophas Lunga (Diocese of Matebeleland), Erick Ruwona (Diocese of Manicaland) and Farai Mutamiri (Diocese of Harare).

In the letter, the Anglicans urge the government to address the issues raised by the catholic bishops instead of attacking them.

Riding on the Bible book of Ezekiel 3:7 which reads, “Son of man, I have made you the watchman to the house of Israel; therefore, hear the word at my mouth and give them warning from me”, ACZ says that as a church could not ignore the torment that the people were being subjected.

“The Anglican Council of Zimbabwe (ACZ) writes in solidarity with the pastoral letter issued on 14 August 2020 by the Catholic Bishops Conference entitled “The March is Not Ended”.

“ACZ notes with concern the several responses by the government of Zimbabwe to the Catholic Bishops Conference which seems to dismiss the fact that the church is called to exercise its prophetic role, which can mean challenging our political leaders on their conduct of affairs, particularly if this affects the people of God.

“We write this message to highlight our concerns and emphasis that ‘Indeed the March has not ended’ unless and until the issues raised by the people of Zimbabwe and also echoed by the bishops are attended to and resolved holistically,” reads the letter.

ACZ says that the government has decided to take a defensive position and attack the church instead of interrogating and addressing the issues and concerns raised by the church on behalf of the people.

“We wish to register our concerns to the several responses of the government which we feel were counterproductive to the efforts being made by many stakeholders including the church to unite the nation.

“We make it abundantly clear that since time immemorial, the church in Zimbabwe has spoken against injustice and has been consistent in that regard. Any view or postulation to the contrary would be an attempt to rewrite that narrative in order to promote a negative picture of what the church stands for.

“The church has the biblical mandate to speak without fear or favour, particularly to a government which believes that ‘The voice of the people is the voice of God’. The prophetic ministry of the church mandates it to speak for God and for his people as it is the ambassador of Christ and God in appealing through it (2 Cor.5:20).

“As Anglican bishops, we desire to see an engagement of all stakeholders as respected by the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) and respect of the constitution of the land and institutions thereof for the good of the nation and (Proverbs 11:14) victory for the nation as we, together, overcome all our challenges,” reads the letter.

The Anglican Church called on all progressive religious leaders and religions to pray for peace in the country as the situation has reached a tipping point.

“We also call upon the citizens of this our beautiful nation to remain calm, pray for peace and to work towards all that promotes peace and the common good.

“We also call upon all Christians and other religions to pray for our leaders and the nation at large for peace, stability and prosperity.

“To our brothers and Roman Catholic in particular, we say we are holding you in our prayers and may the blessing of the Almighty God strengthen you and be with you now and forever,” reads the letter.

After ZCBC wrote the pastoral letter, the government raged and attacked them bishops as evil, but several other faith and non-faith organisations published statements in support of the bishops.

During a recent Zanu PF politburo meeting, President Emmerson Mnangagwa challenged churches that were critical of his rule to form their own political parties and contest in elections.

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