Anglican leader requests Mugabe meeting

3rd October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Rowan Williams, the leader of the world's Anglicans, has requested to meet Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe during his forthcoming visit to southeast Africa, his office said Monday.

Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is making a pastoral visit to Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia from October 5 to 13.

He will become the most senior public figure from Britain to visit Zimbabwe in a decade and could meet Mugabe as part of the trip.

"There has been an approach to meet with him but nothing has been confirmed," a Lambeth Palace spokesman said.

Mugabe, 87, who has been president since 1987, routinely blames former colonial power Britain for Zimbabwe's ills.

Zimbabwe's Anglican Church has been divided since 2007 when Nolbert Kunonga, the former bishop of Harare, split from the Anglican province of central Africa citing opposition to the ordination of gay priests.

Kunonga has since declared himself archbishop of Harare and has seized Church property including the cathedral.

Williams wrote an open letter to Mugabe earlier this year urging him to stop the persecution of Anglicans.

He said he was "deeply distressed" to hear of bullying, harassment, and persecution of Anglicans who supported the official Church in the diocese of Harare and further afield.

Lambeth Palace said the purpose of Williams' visit was to meet with bishops, clergy and parishioners and to celebrate the life and ministry of the Anglican Church in the church's central Africa province.

"Doctor Williams will preach at a special service of celebration for the 150th anniversary of the Anglican Church in Malawi," it said.

He is to "visit local Church initiatives in all three countries -- including an agricultural project, an HIV initiative as well as other community schemes set up to help vulnerable groups in local communities."

© 2011 AFP

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