Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Mugabe meeting for Archbishop Welby

Homosexuality is morally wrong, the Archbishop of Canterbury, told a Zimbabwean newspaper this week, but should not be criminalized. In an interview with the Harare Sunday Mail, given upon his arrival in the Central African nation on 16 April 2016, the Most Rev. Justin Welby touched upon local and international church concerns. He praised the Anglican dioceses in Zimbabwe for their faithfulness during the Nolbert Kunonga affair. In 2007 Dr. Kunonga, the Bishop of Harare broke with the Church of the Province of Central Africa to form the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe. He claimed his reasons for leaving the CPCA were due to its support of homosexuality and progressive Western theology. However, the CPCA has long opposed the innovations of doctrine and discipline made by some Western churches, and was investigating Kunonga for fraud, heresy and misconduct. He was alleged to have ordered the murder of disloyal clergy and was a vocal supporter of the country’s strongman, President Robert Mugabe.  In return for his loyalty, the regime gave Dr. Kunonga a farm expropriated from a white commercial farmer.  The security services and police also supported Dr Kunonga, using violence to expel Anglicans from their churches who would not pledge their loyalty to him. However, in 2012 a three-judge panel of the Zimbabwe Supreme Court has held the properties of the Diocese of Harare belonged to the CPCA, and the regime withdrew its support from the controversial bishop.  “The last time we came here we were denied entry into the cathedral but now the issue is different. We thank God for answering our prayers. As the Anglican Church we believe in peace and reconciliation,” Archbishop Welby said, adding: “As the leaders of the church we are here to learn how Zimbabwe managed to resolve its conflict this will be a lesson to the whole Anglican Church in the world.” The archbishop further stated the Anglican position on homosexuality had not changed. “You know it (homosexuality) is morally wrong but legally we cannot condemn those who practice it,” he said. Archbishop Welby responded to questions about the rising popularity of “prosperity gospel” preachers, calling them false teachers. “Preachers should always preach the true Gospel. It is very clear in the Scripture that Christians face problems, but it doesn’t mean God is not there. The Gospel of saying if you come to Jesus you will get everything is heresy; those preachers are actually deceiving people.” Archbishop Welby, joined by the Rt. Rev. Chad Gandiya, Bishop of Harare and the other Zimbabwean bishops paid a courtesy call on President Robert Mugabe on 17 April 2016. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Archbishop Welby said: “It was a pastoral meeting and not a political meeting but the meeting was confidential. We talked about the affairs of the Church. We talked about the past in Zimbabwe, the mistakes that have been made, the breakdowns of the relationships from time to time and we ended with prayer for the future of this country,” he said. Upon his return to the ACC meeting, taking place in neighboring Zambia, the archbishop told the delegates he told President Mugabe that while Anglicans have “widely differing views” on homosexuality “the majority opinion is that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and woman.

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