Wednesday, September 12, 2007


A couple of posts ago, I talked about the desire, most have, for simplilciy and clarity. Most would like to view reality through a particular lens and have the vision be correct and comprehensive. I wish. Life is just not that simple.

Greek philosophy speaks to our situation in terms of passions and reason/logic. The Greeks knew we are capable of receiving information and acting with the mind. They also knew that the human is driven by passion as well. Passion/emotion can force us out of the head, and into a more primal way of being.

As we deal with issues that divide us, I wish we could remember the head and heart bifurcation that we are. Sure, arguments on all sides make use of reason and logic, but let's not pretend that our passions/desires/emotions are ever too far below the surface. When the passion side takes over, watch out, because the mind often departs.

What follows is an article and more detail from Father Jones. If we think all tension in the Episcopal Church is just about human sexulaity, or even variously held theological opinion, we might need a bigger lens.

African Schism Led by Mugabe Allies in Zimbabwe
According to the Mugabe-government-backed Herald newspaper of Harare, Zimbabwe, the Anglican Province of Central Africa has broken apart. It seems the Diocese of Harare has withdrawn from the Province, along with two other Zimbabwean dioceses. Upon the withdrawal of a diocese, it is reported, the province is required to reconstitute itself under a new name and structure. This all came about in last week's provincial syndod, in which two Zimbabwean church leaders went after the outgoing Archbishop, Bernard Malango. They accused him of failing to squelch the 'homosexual lobby' which they argue is led by bishops Mwamba of Botswana, Tengatenga of Southern Malawi, and two other Zimbabwean bishops.

Importantly, the leader of the schismatic moves, Nolber Kunonga, Bishop of Harare, is a supporter of the recent interventions of the Primates of Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.

But the moralistic blasts of the authoritarian regime's in-house news organ ring false. The Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, who led the break-up, supposedly over his faithfulness to Scripture, "as a matter of faith and principle," has been the focus of world attention for his own corruption and complicity with the dictatorship of Mugabe. He also accuses a fellow bishop -- in the Zimbabwean church -- of being gay and also for seeking financial assistance from outside.

In August, the Diocese of Harare drafted and adopted an Act barring all its members from consorting with homosexuals, following perhaps the direction of the Church of Nigeria which advocates the imprisonment of gay people and those who support them.

It is worth noting that the Bishop of Harare had been asked to step down previously by the Archbishop of Canterbury in light of the astonishing charges of moral terpitude levelled against him by many in the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe, and from other Christians there as well. Kunonga faced ecclesiastical trial, but the process was short-circuited in the classic way that justice miscarries in corrupt and mismanaged regimes.

In the June 11, 2006 Sunday Times, Christina Lamb filed this report:

More than half the Anglican priests from Harare, the largest diocese, have fled the country, protesting that the church has become an extension of the regime. At least 10 have sought sanctuary in Britain.

The controversy revolves around Nolbert Kunonga, the Bishop of Harare, who last year became the first Anglican priest in Africa in more than 100 years to face prosecution by his peers. The charges included preaching racial hatred.

Since his appointment in 2001 Kunonga has consistently used his pulpit at St Mary’s Cathedral to praise Mugabe and decry critics of the regime. As a reward he was given a farm and a seven-bedroomed house overlooking a lake.

Now the 56-year-old bishop has started ordaining government ministers and party officials with no theological training, including Joseph Msika, the vice-president.

Any priest who dares to speak out finds himself transferred to a remote parish and intimidated.

“Kunonga has terrorised Christians and turned the diocese into a religious branch of [the ruling] Zanu-PF,” said a priest now living in England. He asked to remain anonymous as his family is still in Harare.

So serious is the situation that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has intervened with the Home Office to help some priests to enter Britain. “The Church of England has received and assisted clerical refugees from the diocese of Harare,” said Lambeth Palace.

Williams has broken a long silence on the matter with a statement to The Sunday Times in effect calling for the Bishop of Harare to be suspended.

“In other jurisdictions, a priest or bishop facing such serious charges would be suspended without prejudice until the case had been closed,” the statement said. “It is therefore very difficult for Bishop Kunonga to be regarded as capable of functioning as a bishop elsewhere in the communion.”

Although Williams has no power to intervene in Zimbabwe — which comes under the authority of the autonomous Province of Central Africa — his words as leader of the worldwide Anglican church carry great influence.

Kunonga recently told the state-owned Herald newspaper that Williams had no authority over him. “Throughout history the Anglican church has been an extension of British colonialism and imperialism,” he said. Now, he claimed, “England has no jurisdiction over me”.

The rift in Zimbabwe’s Anglican community began three years ago when it emerged that Kunonga had been given St Marnocks farm outside Harare as a token of appreciation from Mugabe for his support.

The farm, one of the biggest in the country, had been seized from the Hale family, who had bought it in 1990 for £700,000. Marcus Hale, the former owner, estimates that it has gone from producing 4,000 tons of cereal a year to about 60-70 tons. He says Kunonga has refused to return irrigation equipment and portable silos worth £190,000. “I’m very bitter,” he said.

Kunonga got the farm after defending Mugabe’s win in the rigged 2002 election that prompted the country’s suspension from the Commonwealth. In his sermons he called the election results “God’s will”.

He refused to speak out against human rights abuses, including last year’s Operation Murambatswina (Drive out the Filth), when hundreds of thousands of his parishioners in Harare had their homes and businesses demolished. His priests were outraged when he accepted an edict from Mugabe against helping the victims.

When one sermon turned into such a eulogy of Mugabe that choristers started drowning it out, they were sacked.

Pius Ncube, the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo and a critic of Mugabe, has said that Kunonga is “aligned with the forces of evil”. More than 30 Anglican priests from Harare have left the country since 2003. “The Anglican church in Harare has no credibility,” one of them said. “It’s a circus.”

Among those who have fled to England is the Rev Paul Gwese. He was suspended from his parish because the congregation who gave money at a thanksgiving service included the local opposition MP. Gwese was then transferred to another parish 70 miles away.

There have been so many complaints from parishioners, church wardens and priests that last August Kunonga was brought before an ecclesiastical court. The 38 charges included intimidating critics, mishandling church funds and preaching racial hatred.

The trial collapsed on its second day when the presiding judge from Malawi announced that he was withdrawing. It was later announced that the charges had been dropped.

Shortly afterwards Kunonga ordained Msika, commending “the sterling work he has done for both the church and the country”. Two cabinet ministers were also ordained.

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