Skip to main content

Archbishop of Canterbury’s Visit to Africa

Volume 533: debated on Thursday 13 October 2011

5. What reports he has received on the outcome of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent visit to Africa. (73911)

The Archbishop of Canterbury, as spiritual leader to the worldwide Anglican community, was invited to make a pastoral visit to Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia by the Archbishop of Central Africa, the right reverend Albert Chama. The purpose of the visit was primarily to meet with bishops, clergy and parishioners to celebrate the life and ministry of the Anglican Church in the region and to strengthen ties with the Anglican communion. In the course of his visit the Archbishop of Canterbury met the Presidents of Malawi, Zimbabwe—Robert Mugabe—and Zambia, and the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai.

I am grateful for that response. Several of my constituents in Gloucester have told me that they thought that the archbishop’s visit showed real moral courage. How much confidence does my hon. Friend have in Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s pledge to ensure that the rule of law is applied and to allow Christians to worship in peace?

I would hope that the whole House would share that view about the courage of the Archbishop of Canterbury. By his preaching and presence in Africa he will have given immense encouragement to the persecuted Church there. The Archbishop of Canterbury in Africa has made a direct challenge to tyranny and given words of hope for the oppressed. The archbishop made it clear to President Mugabe that he should use his powers as Head of State to guarantee the security of Zimbabweans who worship with the Anglican Church and put an end to illegal and unacceptable behaviour—beatings and other degradation—that has been visited upon people simply because they are Christians.

On one of the very few occasions when I can agree with Conservative Members, let me say that many of us are deeply impressed by the way the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke the truth to Mugabe and urged him to stop the violence and thuggery that has unfortunately occurred over the past few years. The Archbishop of Canterbury has undoubtedly given a tremendous lead to decency.

This is one of the few occasions when I have agreed with the hon. Gentleman, and I hope that the whole House would do so too.