From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Zimbabwe Questioned as Site of 1998 Wcc Assembly
04 May 1996 20:36:46
95341 Zimbabwe Questioned as Site of 1998 Wcc Assembly
in Wake of President's Antihomosexual Statements
by Jerry L. Van Marter
with information from John Newbury
World Council of Churches Office of Communication
GENEVA--World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee members are
seeking assurances that recent antihomosexual statements by Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe will not create problems for the WCC when it holds
its Eighth Assembly in Harare in 1998.
Mugabe was widely quoted last month as saying he believes "homosexuals
don't have any rights at all and if they come here, we will throw them in
Responding to questions from Central Committee members during a Sept.
18 plenary session, WCC general secretary Konrad Raiser recalled that
similar concerns about holding the 1998 Assembly in Zimbabwe were raised at
the January 1994 Central Committee meetings after widespread reports of
police harassment of homosexuals in Zimbabwe.
Raiser said that at that time he sought and received assurances from
the Zimbabwean interior minister that all Assembly participants will be
allowed to enter Zimbabwe and that the Assembly will be free to set its own
But after an exhibit by a Zimbabwean homosexual organization was shut
down at a July book fair in Harare, the country's capital, Raiser said he
received numerous letters from WCC member churches questioning whether the
Assembly should be held in Zimbabwe. He said that the WCC and the Zimbabwe
Council of Churches are developing a detailed list of "essential
requirements" for holding the Assembly in Zimbabwe.
Raiser said he had "no reason to believe that such an understanding
cannot be reached with the Zimbabwe authorities."
Kristine Thompson, one of two Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
representatives on the Central Committee, said she hoped any agreement
would ensure the right of Assembly participants to express public
solidarity "with those in Zimbabwe who are being repressed for
homosexuality." She acknowledged that while WCC member churches have
varying attitudes toward homosexuality, "we can agree that no one should be
persecuted for it."
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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