The Archbishop of Canterbury began his “healing” visit to Zimbabwe yesterday by delivering a sermon as part of a tour designed to help close a rift within the Anglican Church.

Dr Rowan Williams addressed an estimated 15,000 people at an open-air Sunday service at the National Sports Stadium in the capital, Harare, before a possible meeting he has requested today with President Robert Mugabe.

The service was held in the stadium after Harare’s Anglican cathedral was taken over by the rebel bishop, Nolbert Kunonga. Kunonga, who supports Mr Mugabe, is accused of intimidating and evicting from their churches mainstream Anglican congregations.

Urging people to turn away from violence, the archbishop said: “Listen. Not only to the voice of those who suffer but to the voice of God himself, grieving over the way we ruin his creation, the voice of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, longing for his people to open their hearts to justice and peace and mercy.”

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