Zimbabwe: “For Heaven’s Sake Don’t Prop Him Up”

Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu, collarless, in front of Yorkminster.
BBC NEWS | UK | Archbishop leads Zimbabwe protest
The Archbishop of York has urged members of Zimbabwe’s security forces not to prop up Robert Mugabe’s regime. Dr John Sentamu, one of the most senior members of the Anglican church, is leading a day of fasting and prayer in support of the people of Zimbabwe. He urged the army and police not to “terrorise the ordinary citizens”. In December, Dr Sentamu cut up his clerical collar on television and said he would not replace it until President Mugabe was out of office.

There has been a month of deadlock in Zimbabwe following disputed elections. Dr Sentamu called on the public to join him in prayer for the country. He said: “My plea, really to the army and to the police, is very simple. “Your job is not to prop up a government that actually lacks legitimacy, but to protect every citizen of Zimbabwe. “And if Mugabe has lost the election, for heaven’s sake don’t prop him up.”

“As a Christian community we must all stand together with our brothers and sisters living under the tyranny of Mugabe and pray that they will find deliverance.” On Thursday, Dr Sentamu released a joint statement with the Archbishop of Canterbury calling for international action to prevent “horrific” violence in Zimbabwe. And, speaking on Sunday, he told the BBC: “I’ve visited it a number of times and it was the bread basket of that region. “It’s now a basket case and the problems of Zimbabwe actually affect a lot of us – it’s not just them.” He said that on other international issues, such as global warming and the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, there had been “a coalition of nations” prepared to speak out. “But, for Zimbabwe, it seems as if it doesn’t really matter,” he said. “And I actually think that the international community and all of us must be concerned about a country which once was a real showcase in Africa and now really is terrible.” In Zimbabwe, Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has failed to regain its parliamentary majority after a partial recount of votes from polls last month. The opposition MDC says it also won presidential polls, although those results remain unreleased. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said the presidential results could be announced after the completion of the recounts, expected by Monday. The head of the Anglican church in southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, told the BBC he wanted a weapons embargo to be imposed against Zimbabwe. “I would say Zimbabwe needs food, peace and security and not the arms. I would support such an embargo,” Mr Makgoba said.

Zimbabwe: Anglican Leaders Call for Action

BBC NEWS | Africa | Church calls for Zimbabwe action
The leaders of the Anglican church have called for international action to prevent violence in Zimbabwe reaching “horrific levels”.

In a joint statement the Archbishops of Canterbury and York also called for an international arms embargo on Zimbabwe.

Yet more pressure brought to bear

You Are My Witnesses: Thugs Attack Mothers Union Meeting

Ruth Gledhill – Times Online – WBLG: Zimbabwe: The devil came late today.

Ruth Bakare, wife of the interim bishop of Harare, was the main speaker at a Mother’s Union meeting at an Anglican church in Zimbabwe. Over 3200 women had arrived for the day’s activities and Mrs. Bakare was partway through her talk, which included commentary on a text from Isaiah, “You are my witnesses.” The Mother’s Union is one of those Anglican bodies that evokes images of ladies drinking tea and enjoying a nice day out with educational speakers and fun activities. Not a rout with bully boys (and one bully girl) intent on breaking the meeting up. Part of the context is political, and part of it is that the thugs were apparently there on behalf of the deposed former bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, who’s a major ally of Robert Mugabe’s.

Half way through my address I saw a truck with riot police drive into the yard towards the crowd in a rather aggressive way. I asked Vimbai whether I should continue and she advised me to ignore them. So I did.

And just as I said in my address: “What have we not seen” (or witnessed in today’s Zimbabwe), the second truckload of police arrived, and a policeman came to the front of the tent where I was and requested us to leave immediately. The women started saying a last prayer, and many were shedding tears. Then they began to disperse one by one, with some older ladies on walking sticks trotting behind.

The Bishop and I took our time leaving and followed other women who were driving out of the gate. Most of the women had gathered just outside the church grounds by the gate and were now singing hymns on top of their voices. When our car went out of the gate, it was like a “triumphant exit from Jerusalem”, the way the women responded – was it joy or anger?

Certainly they sounded happy and confident and some were saying, “The devil came late today. After all we had nearly finished our day.” When they saw me moved to tears at their singing and cheering us, they called to me “Musatye” (don’t be afraid”), and indeed I was not, carried by so much joy and love and hope.

I knew that what we are going through is only for a while. “We shall overcome!”

Sir Ian McKellen: Gandalf In An Emphatically Pointed Hat

Yes, I’m a major Tolkien fan. Yes, I’m a liberrrl Anglo-Cat’lick Episcopalian. Yes, I cried when I read this. I make no apologies.

Sir Ian McKellen becomes bishop for a day – Telegraph

Never one to shy away from controversy, Sir Ian McKellen is secretly plotting to launch a campaign to shame the Anglican Church over its refusal to give equal rights to homosexual clergy.

In an act of solidarity with the Rt Rev Gene Robinson, the Church’s first openly homosexual bishop, the celebrated actor intends to read out a sermon written by the prelate, who has been barred from the landmark Lambeth Conference this summer that is seeking to prevent a schism over the issue.

Standing alongside the bishop, who will remain silent throughout, the star of The Lord of the Rings will deliver a broadside against the Church’s attitude to homosexuals with the kind of passion and force normally reserved for his performances on the stage.