News from the Diocese of Southwark
Bishop of Southwark speaks out on Zimbabwe
11 Jan 2012
Speaking at Epiphanytide the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun has expressed outrage at the intolerable state of affairs concerning the church in Zimbabwe.He went on 'to pledge strong solidarity to our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe in our companion link dioceses as well as the Diocese of Harare, their bishops, priests and people, praying that Christ the Prince of Peace may reign in the hearts and minds of those in power and his kingdom of righteousness, justice and gentle rule may be advanced'.
He was speaking following the news that the Epiphanytide retreat of the clergy of the Diocese of Manicaland and Harare has been forced to move its location, following the intervention of the police, from Peterhouse School in Marondera, where it is usually held, to Belvedere Teachers College in Harare.
The Bishop of Southwark went on to say 'I wish to associate myself fully with what has been said by The Archbishop of Cape Town and Primate of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, who was part of the regional delegation of Primates which accompanied the Archbishop of Canterbury on his recent visit to Zimbabwe'.
The Archbishop of Cape Town said, 'I deplore the shocking action of the Zimbabwean police on Tuesday in preventing the clergy of the Diocese of Harare from holding their annual prayer retreat at Peterhouse School. I call on President Mugabe to ensure that the religious freedom of all Zimbabweans, and especially persecuted Anglicans, is respected, and to instruct the police to allow the churches freedom of assembly and worship.
'We affirm Bishop Chad Gandiya, his clergy and people at this time. As they share in the sufferings of Christ, may they gain strength from the experience and never give in to a cynical and sinister government.
'The ...season of Epiphany speaks of our hope that the incarnate Christ breaks all boundaries, and that He will ultimately break the power of President Mugabe and those of his supporters who carry out these deeds, and bring freedom to Zimbabwe.
'I also call on our ecumenical friends and our partners in the Anglican Communion to ask their governments to put pressure on Zimbabwe to end this persecution.'
Bishop Christopher had led the Epiphany retreat for the clergy of Manicaland and Harare last year.Many of the clergy, with their congregations, had been locked out of their churches.Bishop Christopher said, 'They were tired and in need of the opportunity to relax and recharge their spiritual batteries, but quietly determined and resilient.In the intervening months as a result of an ongoing campaign of harassment, to which the police, disgracefully, have turned a blind eye and have often taken part, many priests and their families have been forced to move out of their rectories into temporary accommodation.It is appalling that their retreat this year has been violated in the way that it has.'