Archbishops comdemn Zimbabwe violence

Jan. 2, 2010 at 5:51 PM
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HARARE, Zimbabwe, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- British archbishops have condemned violence against Anglican worshipers in Zimbabwe allegedly instigated by a bishop with ties to President Robert Mugabe.

Riot police in Harare attacked congregants and locked them out of the city's two Anglican cathedrals, The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.

The police allegedly were backing Nolbert Kunonga, excommunicated by the Anglican Church in 2008. Kunonga, a vocal supporter of Mugabe, was bishop of Harare until he split from the Anglicans' central Africa province and declared himself an "archbishop," the Telegraph said.

He retains control of several church buildings in the Zimbabwean capital, including the bishop's official residence, and has been obstructing services by the official church, the newspaper said.

"We are being prevented from worshiping," said Chad Gandiya, the Anglican bishop of Harare since July. "The police stop us but do not have identification and will not say on whose orders they are stopping our services."

The archbishops of Canterbury and York released a joint statement, saying the effort to keep people from worshiping as they please "is a further blow to civil liberties in Zimbabwe."

"We condemn unequivocally any move to deny people their basic right to worship," they said.

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