A troublesome bishop

No, not Gene Robinson.

The Anglican Communion News Service provides this profoundly peculiar statement from Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop Bernard Malango of Central Africa regarding the pair’s meeting today with Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, Anglican Bishop of Harare.

Kunonga, a crony of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe had been charged in an ecclesiastical court with incitement to murder, intimidating critics, ignoring church law, mishandling funds and preaching racial hatred. “He has also occupied a farm and evicted 40 families from a local village,” Stephen Bates wrote in The Church of England Newspaper. “A couple of months ago he even licensed the acting vice-president of Zimbabwe Joseph Msika, a man on record as saying that whites are not human beings, to act as a deacon of the church.”

(For an excellent background article on Kunonga, look here.)

Malango has consistently protected Kunonga, dismissing the 38 charges against him when an ecclesiastical trial became chaotic, and attending the celebration of the bishop’s wedding anniversary.

Now comes the following statement:

“We are grateful for the chance to meet face to face and discuss the role of the church in Zimbabwe and the wider region in working towards the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals.

“We shared our deep concerns with the Bishop of Harare about the situation in Zimbabwe, affirming those places where Anglican ministries are bearing fruit and the church is growing, but also expressing the widespread concerns in the global church and in the international community about the deteriorating economic life of Zimbabwe and issues of human rights and peaceful non-partisan protest.

“We encouraged the development of an independent voice for the church in response to these challenges. All ministers of the gospel must be free to serve and to speak for the needs of those most deprived and disadvantaged.

“We want to find new channels of communication and to facilitate regional conversations about issues of development and justice, including the impact of sanctions, so that Anglicans may work together more effectively with and for the poor whom they serve in Christ’s name.”

This statement, coming in the midst of Williams’ silence on the matter of Peter Akinola’s support for human rights violations, makes you wonder what a conservative prelate would have to do in order to elicit a public expression of displeasure from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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