When a panel of four officers of the Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC) last month released $85,000 to the guerrilla groups fighting against an interim settlement in Rhodesia, a storm broke over their heads. The most common allegation: The WCC is financing terrorism.

The money, which came from a special fund of the WCC’s Programme to Combat Racism (PCR), had been allocated more than a year ago to the Patriotic Front of Zimbabwe (Rhodesia), a black coalition led by Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo. Because of uncertainties, the WCC executive committee asked the officers to study the situation before releasing the funds.

The officers: Archbishop Edward Scott of Toronto (WCC Central Committee moderator), Jean Skuse of Sydney, Australia, and Catholicos Karekin II of Antelias, Lebanon (vice-moderators), and Philip Potter (general secretary).

In an explanatory statement, the WCC noted that “since March the [Rhodesian] regime has vastly increased the scale of its aggression and oppression against those who oppose the settlement, both internally and outside the country.” It dismissed the stepped up terrorist activities—attributed largely to the Patriotic Front—as an inevitable consequence of the government’s “aggression.”

The PCR grant was earmarked for humanitarian purposes only—food, health, social, educational, and agricultural programs. WCC people acknowledge that they have no sure means of checking how the money is used. But, said one WCC official, “We don’t believe the money will be used to buy guns. We have known the Patriotic Front for many years, and we believe they are responsible people.”

An unidentified spokesman for the Patriotic Front in Lusaka, Zambia, welcomed the PCR grant as recognition of “the legitimacy of ...

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