The argument exposed a wide division in clergy attitudes to the troubled government of President Robert Mugabe.
Norbert Kunonga was consecrated at a ceremony at Harare's City Sports Center. Bishop Kunonga, a 49-year-old black priest and theology lecturer at the Africa University in Mutare, 170 miles east of Harare, succeeds Bishop Jonathan Siyachitema, who retired last October.
Timothy Neill, former vicar general of the diocese, had been fighting since last December to have Kunonga's nomination overturned. Neill, a 47-year-old white priest and prominent critic of the Mugabe government, claimed that the procedure contravened church laws and was "tainted" by racism against whites.
Neill was among three short-listed candidates submitted to the assembly convened in December to elect the new bishop. Kunonga was not on the list. According to the Star newspaper, published in South Africa, Neill's supporters alleged in December that supporters of the Mugabe government blocked Neill's election and engaged in intense lobbying for Kunonga.
Neill said that the clergyman who nominated Kunonga should have been disqualified because he had circulated a letter at the December assembly accusing Neill of racism.
The letter was written by Godfrey Tawonezvi, a priest at St Paul's Church in Highfield, Harare, and sent to Neill. Copies were sent to other priests and deacons. The letter stated: "I note with concern that you are ambitious to be the next Bishop of the Diocese of Harare. My own assessment is that such an ambition by you brings shame to the Church of God." ...1
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