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Moral costs of touring Zimbabwe too great: Bishops

For immediate release

June 6, 2005

Moral costs of touring Zimbabwe too great, say Anglican Bishops


New Zealand’s Anglican bishops have spoken out against the scheduled Black Caps’ cricketing tour of Zimbabwe next month.

They have acknowledged that the cancellation of the tour may bring heavy penalties, and have endorsed the New Zealand and Australian governments’ efforts to persuade the International Cricket Council to suspend Zimbabwe from its membership.

However, the bishops have indicated that the moral costs of proceeding with the tour outweigh these considerations.

“The extent of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe,” they say, “must be challenged.”

In their statement, the bishops draw attention to a resolution passed by the Anglican Consultative Council, which concluded its three-yearly meeting in Nottingham, in the UK, last week.

The ACC, which is chaired by the Bishop of Auckland, The Rt Rev John Paterson, heard extensive testimony from folk in Zimbabwe and the wider African community about the plight of the country under President Robert Mugabe, who is the Patron of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union.

The statement by the bishops includes the signatures of the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in this Province – Most Rev Whakahuhui Vercoe – and the three senior bishops representing Tikanga Maori (Rt Rev Brown Turei); Tikanga Pakeha (Rt Rev George Connor) and Tikanga Polynesia (Rt Rev Jabez Bryce.)

The statement follows:

5th July 2005

Statement of the Anglican Bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia Te Hahi Mihinare ki Aotearoa, ki Nui Tireni, ki Nga Moutere o te Moana Nui a Kiwa

We add our voices to the voice of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of New Zealand and those others who have called for the cancellation of the planned tour of Zimbabwe by our cricket team, the Black Caps. While acknowledging that the immediate and long term costs of the cancellation of the cricket tour are extremely high and that there is the risk of some short term financial benefit to the Government of Zimbabwe, nonetheless the extent of human rights abuse in Zimbabwe must be challenged. We also endorse the efforts of the governments of New Zealand and Australia in approaching the ICC. In doing this we endorse the words of the Anglican Consultative Council last week, with its large African representation, which speaks on behalf of the 80 million member Anglican Communion throughout the world. As the Anglican News Service reports:

"The Anglican Consultative Council acknowledges the social and historical imbalance that the people of Zimbabwe have experienced in the tenure of their land, their implications the current crisis and the need for them to be addressed. However, the Council:

notes with profound sorrow and concern, and condemns, the recent political developments in Zimbabwe where hundreds of thousands of persons have had their homes destroyed and have become displaced persons within their own country, and where:

after up to two years of drought many families are dependent on relief but food distribution is often refused to those who do not support the political party in power

those suffering from HIV/AIDS and orphans do not receive appropriate help from the government

there are serious restrictions on democracy

there is little freedom of speech or tolerance, and human rights are denied

politicians and uniformed forces act as if they are above the law

people are arrested, imprisoned without fair trial, and tortured.

asks the government of Zimbabwe to reverse its policies of destruction and begin to engage in development that eradicates poverty;

calls upon the leadership of the African Union to persuade the government of Zimbabwe to consider the humanitarian aspects of the situation in that country, and to act to remedy the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe;

supports the Church of England in its approaches to the government of the United Kingdom to reconsider its policy of repatriation of refugees to Zimbabwe;

welcomes the proposed pastoral visit of church leaders from South Africa to Zimbabwe to take place in the near future;

assures the Christian churches and the people of Zimbabwe of its prayers in this time of national disaster."

Further, we affirm again our commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 as endorsed by the international bishops’ conference at Lambeth 1998.

x Whakahuihui Vercoe Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia Te Hahi Mihinare ki Aotearoa, ki Nui Tireni, ki Nga Moutere o te Moana Nui a Kiwa

x David J Moxon Bishop of Waikato

x Philip Richardson Bishop in Taranaki

x John Bluck Bishop of Waiapu

x Thomas Brown Bishop of Wellington

x George Connor Bishop of Dunedin

x John R K Gray Bishop of Te Waipounamu

x John Paterson Bishop of Auckland

x Te Kitohi Pikaahu Bishop of Te Tai Tokerau

x William Brown Turei Bishop of Aotearoa

x Muru Walters Bishop of Te Upoko o te Ika

x Jabez Bryce Bishop of Polynesia

x Derek Eaton Bishop of Nelson

x Richard Randerson Dean, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland

x Gabriel Sharma Bishop in Viti Levu West

ends

Note: Two bishops, Rt Rev David Coles, Bishop of Christchurch, and Rt Rev Winston Halapua, the Bishop for the Diocese of Polynesia in Aotearoa New Zealand, are overseas.

ENDS

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