By Matthew Davies
The controversial former bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, has been officially excommunicated, thereby stripping him of his ability to function as a cleric in the Anglican Church. The announcement by the dean of the Church of the Province of Central Africa, the Rt. Rev. Albert Chama, comes following disturbing reports of continued harassment and violence from local police against Anglicans trying to worship in Zimbabwe’s capital city. Last week, Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court dismissed an application from Kunonga to take control of Harare’s Anglican churches. However, police in Harare have continued to use physical force in their attempt to bar worshippers from attending church services at the city’s Anglican cathedral. Kunonga, who is an avid follower of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and has praised him as “a prophet from God,” was replaced in December 2007 by Bishop Sebastian Bakare, who is supported by the majority of the country’s Anglicans.
Bakare said his main concern is how to provide pastoral counseling to many church members who have been psychologically traumatized and stressed. “Our people have been spiritually wounded and we can only pray and hope that God’s Grace will sustain and heal us,” he said. “The present persecution will not destroy us at all.” Chama had declared the Diocese of Harare vacant in October 2007 after Kunonga had attempted to withdraw the diocese from the province. In his recent announcement, Chama said that he pronounces upon Kunonga “and all those who support him the sentence of Greater Excommunication, thereby separating them from the Church of the Province of Central Africa and the Anglican Communion, by the actions taken of withdrawing from the Province of Central Africa, forming another Church, and casting aside the Constitution and Canons of the Church of the Province of Central Africa.” Chama’s announcement calls on the “faithful in the Church of the Province of Central Africa and the Anglican Communion…to join with us in humble supplication that these our erring brothers and sisters may speedily attain true repentance, for their own souls’ health and the wellbeing of the Body of Church.”