The Church of the Province of Central Africa has asked that the following letter from the Dean of the Province be circulated by ACNS:
It is with increasing concern that we, the Bishops of the Anglican body of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) note the ongoing involvement of the Law Courts in Zimbabwe in respect of numerous cases instituted about the status of Nolbert Kunonga vis-à-vis the CPCA and his rights to our property.
We are not alone in expressing concern. The Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) voiced their astonishment at a meeting held in Alexandria, Egypt, in February 2009 and recorded their earlier views, stating:
"As representatives of the Anglican Communion, we re-iterate that we do not recognise the status of Bishop Norbert (sic) Kunonga and Bishop Elson Jakazi as bishops within the Anglican Communion, and call for the full restoration of Anglican property within Zimbabwe to the Church of the Province of Central Africa".
This statement reflects the true and lawful position. It also echoes the sentiments of the Anglican Communion worldwide, members of whom are frankly shocked by the conclusions and decisions given in some of the judgments of the courts in favour of Kunonga, a man who has abandoned the Anglican faith and the CPCA. It would seem a few of the learned judges (and magistrates) are either under some misconception or unwittingly ignore the true situation.
We have therefore deemed it appropriate to draw attention respectfully to the following in order to put beyond doubt the factual, legal and ecclesiastical position:-
We find it incredible that the establishment of his own church by Nolbert Kunonga does not seem, with respect, to resonate in the minds of some of the learned judges in Zimbabwe hearing the cases before them on Nolbert Kunonga. Surely, the existence of his own organisation must put beyond all possible doubt the fact the Nolbert Kunonga as a result of his own actions and behaviour cannot lay claim to any right to be a bishop in, and have control over, property of the CPCA in the Diocese. He has now made himself Archbishop of an organisation in opposition to and not recognized by the CPCA. He would have had a conflict of interests if he had not already given up membership of the CPCA.
From a theological point of view a judgment cannot interfere with faith which is controlled by an individual’s conscience. Faith cannot be tested overtly nor imposed upon a person by a court order. This is why in the Anglican Church laws have been specially promulgated to facilitate the propagation by priests and others of the Christian faith. Those persons who choose to be Anglicans willingly, subject themselves to the faith, worship, teachings, format and rules, fellowship, mutual support, the proclamation of the Gospel and the care of God’s people in love and faith as prescribed in our Canons, Acts and other laws. These are spiritual and ecclesiastical aspects outside the scope of the Common Law Courts. Nolbert Kunonga withdrew his membership from this organisation voluntarily. But this does not give him, nor the courts, the right to insist thatCPCA members must follow him and change their faith and allegiance to the CPCA. No
one has the right to restrict, prevent or prohibit Anglicans from worshipping in their Churches of the Diocese as they have done peacefully and respectfully for many years.
We now earnestly seek your kind consideration of the above facts and comments and are emboldened, by the worldwide support we have received, to believe the only conclusion you can reach is that –
To bring this epistle up to date, we have pleasure in announcing that, to international acclamation and in accordance with the laws of the CPCA and other ecclesiastical laws, Dr Chad Nicholas Gandiya, having been duly elected in June 2009, was consecrated and ordained within our Province as an Anglican Bishop recognized worldwide on the 26th July 2009. The ceremony was witnessed by numerous bishops and well over 10,000 others who were in attendance. He was enthroned on that same day in the See of the Diocese of Harare.
After Nolbert Kunonga had left the CPCA and the Diocese and until this momentous enthronement of Bishop Gandiya occurred, Bishop Dr. Sebastian Bakare had acted as caretaker Vicar General/Bishop of the Diocese of Harare from November 2007, a role he filled with distinction and success. Bishop Bakare had been called upon to administer pastorally and otherwise after Nolbert Kunonga left the Diocese effectively on the 4th August 2007.
We, the Bishops of the CPCA, hereby draw to your attention yet another application just launched by Nolbert Kunonga. Although he has nothing to do with, and disassociated himself from the CPCA and formed his own church/organisation, in his latest application he asks the honourable High Court in Zimbabwe to set aside the consecration and enthronement of Bishop Chad Nicholas Gandiya as the Bishop of the Diocese of Harare and for the court to pronounce that he, Nolbert Kunonga, is still bishop of that diocese!
We re-iterate our firm belief that Nolbert Kunonga has no locus standi to appear before, and be recognized by the courts. It is our strong contention that the courts in Zimbabwe have no jurisdiction to interfere with the procedure and decisions legitimately made by the transnational CPCA. We trust that the application will be dismissed on these grounds.
Such a decision will remove the strong perception held by us and most interested persons, locally and internationally, namely that the honourable Courts in Zimbabwe appear to be minded for reasons best known to themselves, to ignore the lack of status of Nolbert Kunonga and the question of jurisdiction and to presume to rule upon the internal, domestic, spiritual, theological, administrative and Church affairs of the CPCA.
We sincerely call upon the courts to heed our concerns so that the chapter on the behaviour and demands and absence of status of Nolbert Kunonga in the Anglican Church can finally be closed.
Dated on this, the 1st day of August in the Year of Our Lord 2009
The Rt Revd Albert Chama
Dean of the Church of theProvince of Central Africa