Lifestyle & Belief

Mugabe may press Archbishop Rowan Williams on gay priests during Zimbabwe visit


The leader of the Anglican Church in the World, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams serves porridge to an elderly woman during his visit to All Saints Parish in Thyolo, southern Malawi on October 7, 2011. Williams who arrived in Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial Capital on October 6, 2011 on a three-day visit to the southern African country, met during the day with President Bingu wa Mutharika at the State House.


Amos Gumulira

Robert Mugabe has said that if he does meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in Zimbabwe on an official visit, the Zimbabwean president would ask his stance on gays and economic sanctions.

Williams, visiting Zimbabwe as part of an African tour, is due to preside over an open-air Eucharist in the National Sports Stadium in Harare, the BBC reports.

Williams' visit is aimed at healing deep divisions within the Anglican Church, the BBC reports: 

There have been reports of violence between rival factions of Anglicans ahead of the archbishop's two-day stay in the country.

Anglican priests in Zimbabwe have been arrested, beaten and forced from their homes by supporters of a Mugabe-backed breakaway faction.

Williams, AFP reports, has sought a meeting with Mugabe for weeks to discuss the violence stemming from a decision in 2007 by former Harare Bishop Nolbert Kunonga to separate from the Anglican communion over the ordination of gay priests and the policies of Zimbabwe's government.

However senior church leaders have warned Mugabe that he risks handing the president a propaganda coup by meeting him Sunday.

Specifically, they could use photographs of himself admonishing Williams to his political advantage, the Telegraph reports.

Mugabe's spokesman, meanwhile, reportedly told Zimbabwe's state-run Sunday Mail newspaper that the 87-year-old dictator would challenge Williams about gays and sanctions, AFP reports.

"Fundamentally, he would want to know why the church of the British state, the Anglican Church, has remained so loudly silent while the people of Zimbabwe, and these people include Anglicans, are suffering from the illegal sanctions," Charamba reportedly said.

"The second issue that the president wants this man of God to clarify is why his Anglican Church thinks homosexuality is good for us and why it should be prescribed for us.

"He thinks the Archbishop will be polite enough to point to him that portion of the Great Book [that] sanctions homosexuality and sanctions sanctions."