Pastoral Statement on Zimbabwe from the Anglican Bishops of the Central African Province – 4 Jun 08

“I Have Heard The Cry of My People”

We the Bishops of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa, comprising Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, “called to share in Jesus’ work of sanctifying and shepherding his people and of speaking in God’s name”. As shepherds of our people we are deeply concerned and dismayed at the escalation of violence in Zimbabwe since the post election of 29th March 2008.

We are alarmed that a government can perpetrate irresponsible acts against its citizens by destroying people’s homes, torturing and killing for the simple reason that they did not vote “correctly”. We fear that the Presidential Run-Off elections on 27th June 2008 could witness a repeat of retribution of those who would have not voted “correctly”.

As bishops our mission has been and will be to preach the gospel of peace and justice for all. Therefore we are distressed at what the people of Zimbabwe are experiencing in an environment devoid of any resemblance of justice and peace.

We call upon the perpetrators of these immoral and criminal activities to respect the rule of law which safeguards and preserves human life and dignity. The reports that people are being maimed, killed, and denied decent burials, paints a contrary picture to our African understanding of Ubuntu.

All these point out to the leadership of these perpetrators that they have lost a sense of nationhood.

As bishops we are also pained to hear that members of the Anglican Diocese of Harare are being denied to pray in their church buildings. We are concerned that their right to worship enshrined in the constitution of Zimbabwe as well as the Article 18 of the UN Charter on Human Rights is being violated. This mirrors the persecution of Christians of the Early Church and in this context we remind the perpetrators that then as now God still triumphs over evil.

As bishops, we pray that the right of the people of Zimbabwe as spelled out in the constitution be upheld, that the judicial system as a reservoir of integrity, without respect of persons in its judgement and ruling, be guided by the spirit of justice and equity. That the law enforcement agents carry out their professional duties to defend shared values. The political parties respect the will of the people regardless of whether the results of the elections are in their favour or not.

We offer this prayer for sanity and resolve to bring all people in Zimbabwe to the realization that we are all God’s children, created in His image to love one another.

As bishops we commend all God’s children in Zimbabwe to His mercy that they may live in love, justice and peace.

In closing we offer this prayer to all:

Lord, you asked for my hands that you might use them for your purpose.
I gave them for a moment then withdrew them for the work was hard.
You asked for my mouth to speak out against injustice.
I gave you a whisper that I might not be accused.
You asked for my eyes to see the pain of poverty.
I closed them for I did not want to see.
You asked for my life that you might work through me.
I gave a small part that I might not get too involved.
Lord, forgive my calculated efforts to serve you
Only when it is convenient for me to do so,
Only in those places where it is safe to do so,
And only with those who make it easy to do so.
Father, forgive me, renew me
Send me out as a usable instrument
That I might take seriously the meaning of your cross.

Issued by the Bishops of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa

1.The Right Rev. Albert Chama – Bishop of Northern Zambia & Dean of the Province of Central Africa
2.The Right Rev. Christopher J. Boyle – Bishop of Northern Malawi
3.The Right Rev. Peter Hatendi – Bishop of Manicaland
4.The Right Rev. Derek Kamukwamba – Bishop of Central Zambia
5.The Right Rev. Sebastian Bakare – Bishop of Harare
6.The Right Rev. William Mchombo – Bishop of Eastern Zambia
7.The Right Rev. Ishmael Mukuwanda – Bishop of Central Zimbabwe
8.The Right Rev. Robert Mumbi – Bishop of Luapula
9.The Right Rev. Trevor Mwamba – Bishop of Botswana
10.The Right Rev. David Njovu – Bishop of Lusaka
11.The Right Rev. Wilson Sitshebo – Bishop Matabeleland
12.The Right Rev. Godfrey Tawonezvi – Bishop of Masvingo
13.The Right Rev. James Tengatenga – Bishop of Southern Malawi
14.The Rev. Canon Michael Mkoko – Vicar General of the Diocese of Lake Malawi
15.The Very Rev. Brighton Malasa – Vicar General of the Diocese of Upper Shire

ENDS

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