Anglican Leaders Condemn Zimbabwe Police Action Against Christmas Church Goers

Anglican church leaders condemned Zimbabwe police on Monday for preventing church goers from entering Christmas services last week and threatening them with violence and arrest.

 "We condemn unequivocally any move to deny people their basic right to worship. To prevent people from worshipping in their churches on Christmas Day - unable to receive the church's message of hope - is a further blow to civil liberties in Zimbabwe," said Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Archbishop of York John Sentamu in a joint statement.

"Such unprovoked intimidation of worshippers by the police is completely unacceptable and indicative of the continued and persistent oppression by state instruments of those perceived to be in opposition," they continued.

The incident is the latest in a series of disputes that began earlier this year when police sent forces to block Anglicans from the Diocese of Harare from attending Sunday services.

Bishops of the Diocese of Harare have accused the police of working together with excommunicated Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, a supporter of President Robert Mugabe's regime who set up his own province after being released by the Anglican Church in 2007.

In a statement released last year, Anglican leaders said, "We do not recognise Mr Kunonga as a Bishop within the Anglican Communion and we call for the full restoration of Anglican Property within Zimbabwe to the Church of the Province of Central Harare."

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