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More Anglican Dischord in Africa

Timothy Kincaid

February 4th, 2008

That portion of the Anglican Church known as the Global South and consisting primarily of Africa and Asia is where there is the greatest resistance to welcoming gay persons as equal members in the body of the Church. Bishops from Africa have led a revolt against the Archbishop of Canterbury and issued ultimatums to the Episcopal Church (the US branch of Anglicanism) about ordination of gay bishops.

Some have even usurped the authority of the American church and have set themselves up as overseeing bishops for those American dioceses for whom opposing gay inclusion is a more basic tenat of their faith than is unity in the body of Christ.

However, in the midst of Africa is a province that supports the international body, the Central Africa Province comprising Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

This loyalty did not sit well with a bishop in Zimbabwe. Nolbert Kunonga is vehemently opposed to gay persons and did not believe his Province was adequately homophobic. Not surprisingly, he is an ally of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who has made statements claiming gay people are worse than dogs or pigs and threatening prosecution of religious leaders who disagree with him on same-sex couples.

Kunonga announced in December that he was breaking away from his province. He has been replaced by Sebastian Bakare.

However Kunonga did not readily accept Bakare’s appointment.

But Kunonga and his followers barricaded themselves in the cathedral.

When two representatives of Bakare went to the building and tried to gain access they were badly beaten.

With Mugabe’s support, it seems unlikely that Kunonga will readily recognize Bukare’s authority. And I fear that violence will continue.

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