SW Radio Africa (London)

Zimbabwe: Anglicans to Cleanse Cathedral and Churches Seized By Kunonga

The Anglican Cathedral in Harare and other church buildings that were seized illegally from the main church by breakaway Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, are currently being re-possessed and are to be cleansed before they are used again.

This is according to Harare Bishop Chad Gandiya who addressed journalists in Harare on Thursday, following this week's victory at the Supreme Court. The court ordered Kunonga to return all the properties that he took, because he left the Anglican Church voluntarily in 2007.

"There will be a cleansing and re-dedication of the Cathedral and all parish buildings to what they should be, that is holy places and buildings set apart for the worship and glorification of our God. Some of these places were desecrated when we were in exile," Bishop Gandiya said.

Gandiya was referring to reports that some of the buildings seized by Kunonga had been occupied by criminal elements that used them as brothels.

He added: "The church has planned to have a big thanksgiving service in Africa Unity Square on December 16. Our friends and ecumenical partners will come to witness the return of the Bishop's cathedra........that is the chair that was made during our time in exile."

One of the buildings that had been taken over was the Shearley Cripps Home in Murehwa, which housed more than 100 orphans. The staff were all evicted and the orphans left to starve. Bishop Gandiya told journalists that some of the children were being sexually abused as well.

According to Gandiya, a report was made to the police as soon as they received word of the abuse two weeks ago, and an arrest was made.

The Bishop also invited back those clergy who had followed Kunonga to the new Church Province of Zimbabwe, which Kunonga formed after the split. He said no one will be victimised but they will not be allowed to keep the positions Kunonga gave them without any proper training.

Bishop Gandiya said utility bills had not been paid in some churches. The church will ensure that the debts are properly assigned to those who were responsible, especially since they occupied the buildings illegally.

Gandiya said church leadership, on a parish level, have been taking stock of everything at the church buildings and consolidating inventories, to make sure that every item that has ever belonged to the church is accounted for.

"Items that are found to be missing will also be recorded and where necessary reports will be made to the proper authorities. The prospect of recovering missing items appears to be remote, but efforts will be made.

The Bishop said they would also ensure that those who occupied their buildings illegally and caused Anglicans significant suffering, are also properly rehabilitated, if they admit their sins and repent.

Anglicans hope the transition will go peacefully. But it is feared Kunonga might resist eviction from the main cathedral on December 16th and use his links to ZANU PF to hold onto the main church buildings in Harare.

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