Friday, February 16, 2007

African church leaders need to concentrate on poverty, not gays

This is a "progressive" webpage, so we see stuff such as the need to concentrate on poverty and HIV not on "who is sleeping with whom".

Only a westernized person could make that remark, since it is precisely "who is sleeping with whom" and the promiscuity caused by the Western influences and by breakdown of African customs that is largely behind the spread of HIV, the abandonment of street children, the need for women to become "sex workers" because they have no husbands, and the breakdown of the extended family which was the social umbrella in traditional Africa.

But in the middle of the article, is this gossip about an Anglican bishop who DID get involved in is an excerpt:

one real issue the prelates will find impossible to sidestep is the leader of the Anglican community in Zimbabwe, the Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, who has been accused by his own priests of terrorising Christians and turning his diocese into a branch of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party.

Zimbabwean Anglicans want the archbishops and bishops gathered in Dar es Salaam to act against Kunonga, a ruling party loyalist in his late 50s, who they say is a disgrace to Christianity and to Africa. Anglican priests critical of Mugabe have been transferred to tough rural parishes and many have resigned. A plethora of legal cases between Kunonga and his disillusioned flock are stuck in Zimbabwe 's chaotic court system. In place of priests who have resigned, he has appointed men who have pledged not to criticise the head of state. 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.

From the time of his disputed election as Bishop of Harare in 2001 to the present Kunonga has, say Anglicans in Harare, made no secret of his personal ambitions for fame and fortune or his willingness to exploit fully his sycophantic relationship to Mugabe and ZANU PF.

His election in 2001 to the bishopric was shrouded in mystery, resulting in the defeat of a popular priest, and marred by widespread allegations that Kunonga had used his influence with the ruling party to secure the post. He is the only clergyman among many powerful individual Zimbabweans against whom heavy sanctions have been imposed by the European Union and the United States.

Kunonga has used his pulpit at St Mary's Cathedral in Harare to support Mugabe's controversial land reform programme, in which thousands of commercial farms have been confiscated from mainly white owners but also from some black farmers. During one of Kunonga's pro-Mugabe sermons, the choir began singing hymns to drown out his words. The choir was subsequently sacked by the bishop along with the cathedral wardens and cathedral council.

He was rewarded by Mugabe with St Marnock's, 2000 acres of prime farmland 15 kilometres outside Harare , confiscated from its previous white owner, 25-year-old Marcus Hale. The bishop installed his son in the seven-bedroom farmhouse, which overlooked a lake and sweeping fields of wheat and soya: the lake remains, but the house is now derelict and the crops have been replaced by weeds. The bishop, a short, thickset man who wears a jewelled cross over his cassock, also evicted 50 black workers and their families from the property.

Bishop Nolbert has lost few opportunities to sing the praises of Mugabe, who turns 83 on February 21. On that day Zimbabwe will, as it does every February 21, be ordered to come to a halt as "the great and wise authentic ruler" of the past 27 years requires the nation to pay homage to him.

Last year, Kunonga aped his political patron by ordering all 45 Anglican churches in the Harare Diocese - including St Mary’s Cathedral - to close on Sunday in honour of his 33rd wedding anniversary. Instead, he called all Anglicans to a fundraising prayer meeting at a sports arena. Each parish in attendance was asked to donate the equivalent of 2000 US dollars and each individual 20 dollars as a present for the bishop and his wife, Agatha. The 5000-seat arena was less than half full. Nineteen church wardens and choristers were subsequently banned by a Harare court from attending services in St Mary's Cathedral after Kunonga laid charges against them of trying to disrupt his wedding anniversary.

In August 2005 the bishop, who likes to mock black critics of Mugabe as "puppets of the West", and has described Mugabe's repeated election victories as “God’s will”, appeared before an ecclesiastical court to face 38 charges arising from scores of complaints, all but three of which were registered by black parishioners. The charges included incitement to murder, intimidating critics, ignoring church law, mishandling church funds, bringing militant ZANU PF politics into the pulpit and preaching racial hatred. ...

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