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Fri Oct 24 16:43:59 SAST 2014

Anglicans take back Zimbabwe cathedral

Sapa-AP | 17 December, 2012 13:20
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (R) welcomes the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (L) for a meeting at the State House in Harare, October 10, 2011.
Image by: PHILIMON BULAWAYO / REUTERS

Mainstream Anglican Christians in Zimbabwe are returning to their cathedral after a lockout of more than five years staged by an excommunicated, breakaway bishop who claimed loyalty to President Robert Mugabe's party and used loyalist police to keep people away.

Worshippers from across the country and regional church leaders thronged the central Harare square Sunday for a service to "cleanse and re-dedicate" the historic colonial-era cathedral towering over the square.

Bishop Chad Gandiya struck the main doors three times with a pastoral staff to have them opened. He blessed what he called the "defiled" interior with signs of the cross ahead of the first Eucharist service by mainstream Anglicans since they were often violently banished from churches and missions seized nationwide.

The nation's highest court has declared those seizures illegal.

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