[ACNS] The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he discussed the issue of same-sex marriage in talks with Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, during a flying visit to Harare at the weekend. The Archbishop had stressed that the meeting at State House on Sunday was pastoral rather than political. Few details have been made public.
But, speaking to members of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) on Tuesday afternoon, during their ACC-16 meeting in Lusaka, the Archbishop said the president had raised the topic. In response, the Archbishop said that he had explained that there were differing views within the Anglican Communion but the majority one was that marriage was the lifelong union of a man and woman. The Archbishop said that he had also reiterated the Primates’ opposition to the criminalization of LGBTIQ people, which he described as “entirely wrong”.
The Archbishop told ACC members they were deeply committed to combating criminalisation and not backing those who supported it.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby briefs members of the Anglican Consultative Council following his pastoral visit with President Robert Mugabe.
Video: Episcopal News Service
The meeting took place following an invitation from the president made through Bishop Chad Gandiya of Harare. The delegation also included the British ambassador, Ms Catriona Laing, and the Primate of Central Africa, Archbishop Albert Chama.
It was the first time an Archbishop of Canterbury had met the Zimbabwean president since Dr Rowan Williams’ visit in October 2011. Those talks took place against a backdrop of confrontation between Anglicans and supporters of a renegade bishop, Nolbert Kunonga, during which the cathedral in the capital was closed to its congregation.
Archbishop Justin applauded the improvement in relations between Church and state since 2011. Speaking on his arrival on Saturday, he said he was delighted that the situation had been restored and that the Cathedral was open again. He said how much he admired the Church in Zimbabwe and how it had had dealt with some difficult situations with courage and faith. The Archbishop added that he was in Zimbabwe to listen, learn and rejoice.
The Archbishop was in Harare to lead a huge outdoor celebration. More than 6,000 people from across Zimbabwe attended the event at the outdoor Glamis Arena on Sunday morning.
Part of the 6,000-strong congregation at the Glamis Arena in Harare as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, celebrates the Eucharist.
Photo: Jim Grover