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Anglicans living in fear of being arrested in Zimbabwe

By christiantoday

Anglicans in Zimbabwe fear they will be arrested if they commemorate the shrine of an Anglican missionary.

Worshippers in the Diocese of Masvingo gather each year to celebrate the life and ministry of Arthur Shearly Cripps, who served in the country for 20 years with the Society for the Propogation of the Gospel. Cripps died in 1951.

Last year they were blocked from holding their celebrations at the Shearly Cripps shrine by the excommunicated bishop, Dr Norbert Kunonga, after he claimed authority over the site and 78 Anglican churches in Masvingo Diocese.

According to the Bishop of Masvingo, the Rt Rev Godfrey Tawonezwi, the police have labelled this year's planned gathering "illegal".

There are concerns that the pilgrims may be arrested if they go ahead with their celebration at the shrine from 3 to 5 August.

Bishop Tawonezwi wrote in a letter to supporters that Kunonga had placed posters up in Chivhu Town announcing that he would be going to Shearly Cripps shrine on the same weekend as Masvingo Diocese had originally planned to hold its gathering, from 27 to 29 July.

The bishop said the police had written to the diocese declaring all Anglican Church property to be under the custodianship of Kunonga, a claim refuted by the diocese.

Speaking of the 3 to 5 August celebrations, Bishop Tawonezwi said: "We do not know what will happen because the police are insisting that our gathering to celebrate Shearly Cripps day is illegal. We will wait and see what will take place this coming weekend."

Earlier in the year, the diocese reported that Kunonga had forcibly taken over the Darambombe Mission, with the support of police who threatened to arrest anyone who entered the property.

"We, in the Diocese of Masvingo, are Zimbabweans but we are being harassed by our own police," said Bishop Tawonezwi.

"It is very clear that the police in Chivhu where the shrine is situated have taken sides in this matter. It is most unfortunate."