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Miners strike leads archbishop to issue call to prayer: The Church of England Newspaper, May 23, 2014 June 3, 2014

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The Archbishop of Cape Town has issued a call to prayer to for platinum miners, asking for a just and peaceful solution to the strike in South Africa’s North West Province. Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at Lonmin, Implats, and Amplats in Rustenburg and at Northam in Limpopo downed tools on 23 Jan 2014 demanding a basic monthly salary of R12,500 (£700). The strike has cost the companies over R17.8 billion in revenue and workers have lost more than R7.9bn in earnings. In 2012 47 miners and police were killed in clashes at the Marikana platinum mines in a labour dispute. “Lord, there is something amiss in this economic system and we know it,” the archbishop wrote. “Help us to uphold the dignity of all involved in the current dispute, Give us the courage to stand for all, especially for the miners, Let us hold before us a vision of fairness and accountability as we pursue what makes for peace.”

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South African church back Thuli: The Church of England Newspaper, March 28, 2014 April 11, 2014

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Church leaders in South Africa have defended the country’s Public Protector – the top anti-corruption official – from attacks made by allies of President Jacob Zuma over corruption allegations. In a statement released on 18 March 2014, the Most Rev Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town said: “We in the churches deeply regret that certain clergy have ganged up against the Public Protector in the name of the Church. They have done so without adequate knowledge of her reports and their intervention only serves to undermine the fight against corruption.” On 19 March 2014 Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, reported that almost £24 million of public money had been spent to improve the private residence of President Jacob Zuma. The expenditures were not related to security but were luxurious upgrades to the country estate. “It is shameful to see the dirty tactics being employed” to smear the Public Protector the archbishop said.  The Rt. Rev. Rubin Philip of Natal along with other religious leaders of KwaZulu-Natal released a statement noting the Public Protector’s office is “a vital institution which should be given all the support that it deserves, rather than be undermined. If we are patriots with a genuine love for our beautiful country and willing to see it occupy its rightful place in the world of nations, then we have no option but to unreservedly stand in solidarity with it.”

Makgoba urges Africa to end gay bashing: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013

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The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has lent his support to a campaign launched by the British NGO Human Rights Watch to combat gay bashing.

In a video released last week Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said “Don’t fear … you’ve been given this task of helping the rest of humanity to realize that we are called to respect and we are called to honor each other. People may come and say this is un-African, and I’m saying love cuts across culture.”

The Human Rights Watch campaign seeks to push back against statements and policies put forward by African governments and leaders that it considers homophobic. ”When you violate somebody on the basis of difference you’re not only violating them but you are demeaning yourself,” Makgoba says in the video. He exhorts leaders to take up their “moral responsibility to stop the violence against people who are different.”

“Archbishop Makgoba’s statement should serve as a call to national, religious, and cultural leaders across Africa who support the rights of LGBTI people to speak out publicly,” said Graeme Reid, LGBT Rights director for Human Rights Watch. “And the archbishop’s message of respect for everyone’s rights should challenge leaders who have opposed the rights of LGBTI people to reconsider their positions.”

Easter messages from across the Communion: The Church of England Newspaper, April 7, 2013 p 6. April 9, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Church of Nigeria, Church of the Province of Uganda, Church of the Province of West Africa, Scottish Episcopal Church, The Episcopal Church.
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Easter messages from the overseas leaders of the Anglican Communion sounded a common theme this year of hope and joy. While the archbishops of the church touched upon issues of local concern, each spoke to the victory of Christ over death and the grave.

The Archbishop of Uganda Stanley Ntagali urged Christians not to lose heart in the face of economic and political uncertainties. “There could be social pressures in the country and many people might have lost hope. Many people no longer trust fellow human beings, but let the risen Lord Jesus whose victory over death we are celebrating this Easter give us a new hope.”

He also warned of the dangers of alcohol. “I urge our people not to celebrate [Easter] by drinking. They should go to church and worship the Lord and return home. This a time to repent and make our homes, offices, schools and business places more enjoyable and suitable to glorify God who gave us the greatest gift of salvation through his Son Jesus Christ,” he noted.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council, also spoke of the joy found in life in Christ. “In his resurrection from the dead there is the glorious ‘yes’ of the fulfilment, actual and yet to come, of the promises and purposes of God. Through repentance and faith we share in his risen life and at its heart, our calling is to simply say the ‘Amen’ and glorify the God who has triumphed over sin and death.”

The GAFCON leader also urged Christians to reject the “ungodly innovations” coming from Western liberal churches which seek to “substitute human effort and speculation for divine grace and revealed truth.  It is a profound contradiction to say this ‘Amen’ and then go on, as some do, to deny the real physical resurrection of Jesus.”

When Christians say ‘no’ to false teaching it is for the sake of truth. “There can be no more positive a movement than one which gives an unqualified ‘Amen’ to the fulfilment of all God promises in Jesus Christ.”

The Archbishop of West Africa Dr. Tilewa Johnson said the Christian’s response to the sufferings was to turn towards God. “Where to start? We have tools and guidelines to hand. One of the greatest tools we have is prayer. Prayer is a means of communication with God.”

“As with so many things, it requires practice. We know what it is like when we become close to another human being – a husband, wife, brother, sister or close friend. In time it is possible to read their thoughts, and know what they are going to say before they say it. It is the same with God. To sit in the presence of God – maybe in silence; maybe with a few words – it is possible increasingly to come to know God and the will of God. Gradually we know the way to go,” the Gambian archbishop said.

The Primate of All Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said that when celebrating Easter it was “important” to “re-emphasize the incontrovertible fact that Jesus has risen from the dead and He is alive for ever. Through His resurrection power, therefore we can overcome all sorts of challenges we might have as an individual, as the Church of God and as a Nation.”

The Archbishop called on “all Christians and Nigerians as a whole to reaffirm their trust in God, and in corporate Nigeria.”

“Let us remain resolute and resilient, having our hope in the strength and power of the Almighty God. Our prayer for our country, Nigeria is that we shall overcome the present challenges of lingering insecurity: bloodshed, destruction of lives and property; poverty and political squabbles. We should keep hope alive of a corporate Nigeria,” he said.

Preaching at the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral of St. George the Martyr in Cape Town, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba told the congregation he had just returned from a retreat in “frozen rural North Wales”, staying in an attic room overlooking the Irish Sea in the mountains of Snowdonia.

“I was there to follow the 30-days Full Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola,” he explained “to explore what God was wanting to do in my life.”

But even found that the spiritual journey did not end there as God was leading him “to integrate all I’ve experienced and learnt into my ministry and life” –  “And I certainly came back to find an awful lot had been going on,’ he said.

“The over-riding lesson of my retreat is that God, in his redeeming love, is everywhere. Nothing is beyond his care, or his desire to bring healing and new life to you, to me, to everyone,” the archbishop said.

“If you truly want to know what Easter is all about, look at the places where there are tough challenges, difficult issues, hard wrestling, painful contexts – and where God’s people nonetheless dare to go, and to stay for as long as it takes, witnessing to light and hope and life.” Archbishop Makgoba said.

In in his final Easter message before he retires in July the Archbishop of Sydney Dr Peter Jensen reflected on his tenure in office. “As I think on my time as Archbishop, naturally I look back and try to judge myself – not with much success!” he says. “Like you, I have a real judge. Think how much more God, who knows all the secrets of our hearts, must be able to hold me to account. It should make us tremble.”

But Easter filled him with hope. “What happened at the first Easter reminds me of the love of God. Through the death of Jesus even I, and all of us, can have forgiveness as we turn to him in sorrow and trust him for our lives” he says.

“Our failures are not the last word over our lives. And, through the resurrection of Jesus I have a great and undeserved hope of my own resurrection and future,” Dr. Jensen said.

Archbishop-elect Philip Richardson of New Zealand reminded Kiwi Christians that “life comes out of death; the horror of crucifixion bears the fruit of redeemed and renewed humanity; the worst that we are capable of becomes the access way to that intimacy of relationship with God that Christ makes possible; it is in the bowl and towel of the servant that true power is expressed; it is in losing ourselves that we are found.”

The “heart of the message of Easter,” he observed was not the “passion or the suffering, but the resurrection.”

“As Martin Luther King rightly reminded us, ‘Hate begets hate, anger begets anger, killing only begets more killing. The only thing that can turn an enemy into a friend is the power of love’,” he said.

In a joint message released with the leader of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz of the Anglican Church of Canada celebrated the bonds of friendship between the two denominations and also urged Christians to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem”.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori the Episcopal Church stated: “Easter celebrates the victory of light and life over darkness and death.  God re-creates and redeems all life from dead, dry, and destroyed bones.  We are released from the bonds of self-obsession, addiction, and whatever would steal away the radical freedom of God-with-us.”

At Easter “our lives re-center in what is most holy and creative, the new thing God is continually doing in our midst,” she said, “practicing vulnerability toward the need and hunger of others around us” thereby cultivating “compassionate hearts.  We join in baptismal rebirth in the midst of Jesus’ own passing-over.”

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, writing from Juba where he was standing holy week with Archbishop Daniel Deng of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, wrote: “This Easter I am looking back,” he said – “I am asking, ‘What does it all mean?’ Whether in Juba or in Pittsburgh – and wherever you find yourself – what I testify is that the Gospel is my strength and my song, and that Jesus has become my salvation.”

“Easter is the day that lights and gives meaning to all the others, wherever I – we – spend it and with whomever I – we – spend it.  The tomb is empty.  The world, the flesh and the devil are defeated.  Jesus is alive.  In Him, the alien becomes familiar, loss becomes gain, sorrow becomes joy, and death becomes life.  This Easter I am also looking around and looking ahead,” Archbishop Robert Duncan wrote.

The Archbishop of Armagh Dr. Richard Clarke said what Ireland need this Easter was “confidence – a full–blooded confidence – that we actually want to allow Christ to run loose and dangerous in the world around us. We need to recover that spirited confidence to assert that Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, is not our private property as churchy people, but is truly for the whole of society and the entire world.”

Dr. Barry Morgan the Archbishop of Wales in his Easter sermon preached at Llandaff Cathedral stated that: “If you wanted to sum up God’s work, He is a God who is in the rescue business.  That is the root meaning of the word ‘salvation’ – it means being saved from something or someone.”

“Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we too as members of His body, are rescued from sin, despair, meaninglessness, disaster, and death,” he said, adding that “this offer of rescue, of salvation, by Jesus, is for all people not just for the select few – a bit like being rescued by a lifeboat.   When a life-station receives a distress signal, no enquiry is made about the social status of those who need rescuing, or whether they can pay for the service, or whether they are at fault for having got themselves into danger in the first place by being careless in going out without life jackets when a storm was forecast.  Lifeboats simply go to the rescue.”

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Bishop David Chillingworth of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane stated: “We greet with joy the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We look forward to welcoming many people to worship in our churches at Easter.  We hope and pray that they will experience joy and hope in our congregations.

“As disciples of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are people of the resurrection.  We are Easter people – shaped in our baptism through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We feel deeply the pain of the world and its people.  We bring compassion and care to the ministry which we exercise in our service of others.  We have a passion for justice.  We are also people of hope.  Because of the resurrection, we believe that good will triumph over evil and life over death.”

Civil insurrection warnings from South Africa: The Church of England Newspaper, September 23, 2012 p 7. September 24, 2012

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The Archbishop of Cape Town has urged the government of President Jacob Zuma to take immediate steps to address the unrest in Marikana in South Africa’s North-West Province following last month’s police shooting of 34 striking miners, warning the community is on “knife edge” with the situation set to spin out of control.

On 5 September 2012 Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, accompanied by the Bishop of Pretoria Johannes Seoka – the president of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) – participated in talks between management, labour and the government to resolve the tensions.

“Finding a peaceful way forward was the prime concern of almost everyone present, though the atmosphere of hope was accompanied by the sort of robust speaking that can sound threatening, even terrifying, to those not used to South Africans’ frank talk,” the archbishop said.

As he drove home from the meetings past the Markana Mine where the shootings took place, the archbishop said his heart was telling him “all is not well.”

“I could not help but fear we are living in the calm before a storm.  We are on a knife edge. The dire states of everything from living conditions to issues in the mining community are the stuff from which revulsion follows and revolution is too easily made.”

In an interview with the Daily Mail, the Bishop of Natal, the Rt. Rev. Rubin Phillip said he was afraid the situation would get worse.  The African National Congress government’s failure to address poverty, substandard health and education programmes, and communal violence had left the country unsettled.

“The feeling on the street is one of very deep anger and you don’t want an angry people for too long,” he said.

Unless the politicians and businessmen address the imbalance in the economy, we are going to see many more Marikanas coming up. Not just in the mines, but in the informal sectors as well.

“I think we are sitting on a powder keg situation and we need to address that,” the bishop said, and unless the government fulfilled its promises to the electorate, South Africa “could end up with a scenario that would be very tragic for all of us”.

Archbishop Makgoba said that he, nevertheless, remained optimistic. “Because I have faith in the living God, whose word to us is peace and hope and new life, I am optimistic that a better future is possible.”

But his visit to Marikana “left me with the sense that this country is like a smouldering log that, left unattended, lies ready to ignite at the slightest wind.   There is real urgency in these matters.  This is not a message of doom – it is a call to wake up and act.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Action demanded in the wake of SA police shootings: The Church of England Newspaper, September 9, 2012 p 6 September 10, 2012

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The President of the South African Council of Churches, the Anglican Bishop of  Pretoria Jo Seoka has published an open letter calling upon President Jacob Zuma to investigate the 16 August 2012 police killing of 34 striking miners.

“The coming investigation into the shootings must commence promptly and consist of an impartial commission that will be able to establish responsibilities for the incident at all levels within the police force and government, and the top management of Lonmin,” Bishop Seoka said.

Last month police fired into a crowd of 3000 miners gathered on a hillside close to the Lonmin Platinum mine near Rustenburg after miners attacked police lines.

The mines have been the scene of labour tensions between two rival unions: the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union for the right to represent the mine’s 28,000 employees.  In early August ten people, including two policemen, were killed in skirmishes between the unions who are also calling for a £600 a month wage increase from the British owned company.

Lonmin had a poor reputation the bishop said. “Communities in the area say that mines’ corporate social responsibility programmes are ‘lies’ as they make a lot of promises when they enter a community but often do not deliver,’ Bishop Seoka said, adding “the majority of the projects are done to satisfy their public image and rarely do they consult with workers to find out what they actually need.”

However, he announced that in his talks with management, “we are pleased to announce that Lonmin have finally agreed to meet with representatives of the strikers,” Bishop Seoka reported, adding that Lonmin had backed away from its threat to sack the striking workers.

At the first of four funerals held for the dead on 23 Aug, Bishop Seoka told the congregation the shootings brought back memories of the apartheid struggle.  “We are shocked as a nation about what happened. None of us ever thought it would happen again.”

The Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba warned political leaders not to exploit the tragedy for their own purposes telling the congregation “These are God’s people, we need to respect the dignity and sanctity of their lives.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Archbishop “appalled” by police massacre in South Africa: The Church of England Newspaper, August 26, 2012 p 6. August 29, 2012

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The Archbishop of Cape Town has called for a “strong, but measured and proportionate” response from the South African government after police opened fire on striking miners killing 34.

Speaking to the press on August 17, National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega said the police were compelled to use deadly force against striking miners at the Lonmin Platinium mine, located 62 miles northwest of Johannesburg, after 3000 miners gathered on a hillside overlooking Marikana to call for a pay rise of £600 a month.

Police sought to surround the striking miners and the melee began after shots were fired at the police and the miners charged police ranks wielding machetes.

Molaole Montsho of the Sapa news agency said he saw police use water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades to break up the protest.  “And then in the commotion – we were about 800m [2,600ft] from the scene – we heard gunshots that lasted for about two minutes,” he wrote.

Commissioner Phiyega reported that 34 miners were killed, approximately 78 were injured and 259 taken into police custody.

The mine workers union, a political ally of President Jacob Zuma’s African National Congress, has called for a government investigation into the shooting – the deadliest police clash since the end of the apartheid era. Some activists have likened the shooting to the 1960 Sharpesville massacre, where police opened fire on demonstrators killing 69 – an event credited with radicalizing the anti-apartheid movement.

In a statement released on 17 August, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town said he was “stunned and appalled” by the shootings.

“Whatever the merits of the various disputes – whether between employees and employers, between unions, between workers and union leaders, between miners and police – whatever the legality of the strikes or the responses to them, this death toll is unacceptable,” the archbishop said, as “even one death is one too many.”

The archbishop called upon the Ministers of Justice, and of Mining and Mineral Resources to give “strong, but measured and proportionate, interventions to end this warpath and stop the killings.”

“We must also make resoundingly clear that common sense must prevail, and that sincere, mature, negotiation must always be the route to solving our differences. Violence is never the answer,” Archbishop Makgoba said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Swaziland elects first women bishop for Africa: The Church of England Newspaper, July 29, 2012 p 6 August 4, 2012

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The Diocese of Swaziland has elected Africa’s first Anglican woman bishop.  On 18 July 2012 the Diocesan Elective Assembly meeting in Mbabane elected the Rev. Ellinah Wamukoya as fifth bishop of the diocese.

Bishop-elect Wamukoya (61) will be the first female Anglican bishop in Africa and one of only two serving women bishops among the continent’s mainline churches – in 2008 the Rt. Rev. Joaquina Nhanala was elected the Methodist bishop of Mozambique.  The first woman bishop in Africa was the Rt. Rev. Purity Malinga, a Methodist bishop in South Africa.

Educated at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (now the University of Swaziland), the new bishop has exercised a bi-vocational ministry.  She serves as Anglican chaplain at the University of Swaziland and at St Michael’s High School in Manzini.  Bishop-elect Wamukoya is also the Town Clerk and CEO of the City Council of the town of Manzini and is a skilled and seasoned financial administrator and has also worked as a planning officer for the Government of Kenya.

Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, who oversaw the election stated, “When it was announced that she had received the necessary votes, there was great rejoicing both that a person of undeniable skills and personal qualities had been chosen, and that it was Ellinah herself, who obviously commands considerable respect and affection across the Diocese of Swaziland.’

‘It is rather fitting that the Diocese of Swaziland should elect our first woman to be a Bishop, since it was here, 20 years ago, that, amidst both tears and joy, our Provincial Synod agreed that both the priesthood and episcopate should be open to both men and women’ the Archbishop said. ‘We have waited a long time for this moment!’

“I am humbled by the trust and confidence placed on me by the people of Swaziland, a person like me of humble beginnings” said Mrs. Wamukoya after the election. “My prayer is to be able to listen and be guided by the Holy Spirit in everything I do. My vision is to see that the people of God are restored and transformed, in order for them to be a church in mission, for, as it is said, ‘a church that does not reach out, passes out’.”

The new bishop enters the stage at a difficult moment in the political and ecclesial life of Swaziland.  The diocese had been led by vicar-general since the resignation last year of her predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Meshack Mabuza.

Bishop Mabuza had been a sharp critic of King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa. King Mswati has ruled the landlocked mountain kingdom since 1986 and has been denounced by church and civil society leaders for mismanagement of the economy.  The king also has earned a public image as a profligate ruler unconcerned with his subjects’ poverty.

Last year Bishop Mabuza told the BBC “the answer [to Swaziland’s problems] really lies in regime change in terms of the traditional, feudalistic, archaic form of government,” and “has to be replaced with multi-party democratic rule.”

The Diocese of Swaziland has also been rocked by internal dissension. In 2011 Bishop Mabuza was investigated and cleared of charges that he had mismanaged money given to the diocese by its overseas partners, the Dioceses of Brechin and Iowa.

The financial misconduct charges were only part of the bishop’s worries. On the evening of 21 February 2011, traffic officers from the Lobamba police station stopped Bishop Mabuza while he was driving along the Manzini-Mbabane freeway. The Bishop failed a breathalyzer test and arrested him for driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Following his archiepiscopal visitation in January 2012, Archbishop Makoba released a pastoral letter stating that he believed the diocese was “in a healthy state in spite of all the challenges it went through. Bishop Mabuza must be congratulated and complimented for his effective leadership.”

Women clergy have stood for election as bishop in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa before, but Saturday’s election marks the first time a woman has been elected bishop since the ACSA synod voted to ordain women to all orders of ministry in 1992.

Of the 38 Provinces of the Anglican Communion, 7 do not ordain women: Central Africa, Melanesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South East Asia, and Tanzania.

Two provinces ordain women to the diaconate only, Congo and the Southern Cone while 26 provinces and the extra-provincial Church of Ceylon have ordained women to the priesthood: Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, Central America, England, Hong Kong, North India, South India, Indian Ocean, Ireland, Japan, Jerusalem & the Middle East, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Scotland, the Sudan, Uganda, Wales, West Africa, and the West Indies. Southern Africa becomes the fifth province to elect a women bishop, joining the Episcopal Church, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and has the extra-provincial diocese of Cuba.

Pretoria bishop under investigation for misconduct: The Church of England Newspaper, June 17, 2012 p 6. June 21, 2012

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The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has initiated an investigation into charges of misconduct committed by the Bishop of Pretoria, the Rt. Rev. Johannes Seoka.

Last week Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba’s office confirmed to the South African press that a committee of the House of Bishops had been formed under the terms of Canon 21.3 to investigate claims made against the bishop.

The terms of reference for the investigation will be set at the first meeting of the committee, a spokesman said, and once the investigations are complete it will submit is findings to the full House of Bishops for review.

The bishop told The Church of England Newspaper the charges aired in the South African press by his critics that he had embezzled R500,000 from church coffers and that he had bullied his opponents were “ridiculous”.

Last month Bishop Seoka and the diocesan standing committee suspended worship services at the Cathedral of St. Alban the Martyr in Pretoria after infighting amongst the congregation led to the resignation of the priest in charge.

The decision to temporarily suspend worship services was prompted by a desire to restore order and bring calm to a distressed congregation, the Bishop of Pretoria explained.  “The truth is that all that is happening at the cathedral conflicts with the gospel, and the teachings of the Church.”

The initiating of an investigation under Canon 21.3 is not an indication of guilt or a finding of a prima facie case of misconduct, but is the proper canonical response to allegations of misconduct, a South African bishop told CEN.

Bishop Seoka told the South African press that he welcomed the investigation.  “There is nothing uncommon about the process. At the moment I cannot confirm who the people sitting on the task team will be or any further information,” the bishop said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church support for Kennedy Road squatters: The Church of England Newspaper, April 13, 2012 p 6. April 18, 2012

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A squatter’s settlement in Durban that has been a flashpoint between the ruling African National Congress and pro-democracy activists has been badly damaged by a fire of unknown origin.

On the night of 3 April 2012 fire swept through informal settlement.  A spokesman for the Durban fire brigade said that upwards of 100 homes were destroyed, but only two people were injured.

The Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, offered his condolences and assured residents of his continued support.  In a letter given to the Bishop of Natal, the Rt. Rev. Rubil Phillip, Archbishop Makgoba said “We are deeply saddened in Holy Week to learn of the fire which has ravaged the little which the people and community still possessed. I understand that it is estimated that at least 1000 people are now homeless.”

“I know of the journey of the people of Kennedy Road: of their struggle for descent housing, for dignity and respect and the realisation of their constitutional rights. As we weep with them at this time, we continue to support their call for dignity and justice, and we appeal to our leaders and to the general population to help provide people with proper houses, and to improve the provision clean water and decent sanitation.

“May the message of Easter bring consolation to the community and a resolve to continue their fight for better housing, sanitation and water, as well as for safety.”

The Kennedy Road settlement was the scene of a violent confrontation when on the night of 26 Sept 2009 a group of approximately 40 men armed with machetes and automatic weapons surrounded a building where the members of the AbM — Abahlali baseMjondolo (Zulu for “people based in shacks”) Youth League — were gathered.  In the battle that ensued a dozen people were injured and four members of AbM were killed.

When the police arrived at the scene of the battle, they arrested 8 members of AbM for the deaths of their comrades. The next morning the gang returned to Kennedy Road and looted two dozen shacks – the homes of leaders of the shack-dwellers governing council, the Kennedy Road Development Committee (KRDC).  Local leaders of the ANC accompanied the gang as they looted the homes.  Police observed their actions but did not intervene.

“We are under attack,” the AbM and KRDC said in a press release. “We have been attacked physically with all kinds of weapons – guns and knives, even a sword. We have been driven from our homes and our community. The police did nothing to stop the attacks despite our calls for help.”

“What happened in Kennedy Road was a coup – a violent replacement of a democratically elected community organization. The ANC have taken over everything that we built in Kennedy Road,” the AbM said, charging local political leaders with seeking to evict the residents of Kennedy Road so as to develop the land for their personal profit.

The police subsequently arrested five members of the KRDC and charged the 13 activists with the murder of their colleagues killed by the ANC.

Bishop Phillip intervened in the affair, and spearheaded a campaign by democracy activists to free the “Kennedy Road 13”.  Following trial the 13 were acquitted, but charges have not yet been brought against those accused of organizing the attack.

The origins of this week’s fire is unknown and is remains under investigation, the Durban fire brigade has reported.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Overseas reactions to Dr. Williams’ resignation: The Church of England Newspaper, March 22, 2012 p 7. March 28, 2012

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News of the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury has prompted reactions ranging from sadness to glee across wider the Anglican Communion.

The 16 March 2012 announcement that Dr. Rowan Williams will leave office by year’s end prompted the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop David Chillingworth to write: “Archbishop Rowan’s time as Archbishop of Canterbury has been marked by great difficulty.  To be the person who is called to foster and to embody unity will always be a costly ministry.  He has fulfilled that ministry with a wonderful grace and personal warmth.”

The Primate of All Ireland, Dr. Alan Harper concurred.  Dr Williams was “held in high affection across the Anglican Communion and, on behalf of the Church of Ireland, I offer him prayerful good wishes as he decides to step down from the hugely demanding role as Archbishop of Canterbury to take up his new responsibilities – and enter a new phase of his life.”

The Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba wrote the church had been “inordinately privileged to have such an able theologian and deeply spiritual thinker, as Archbishop of Canterbury over the last decade,” adding that “I …  will miss him very much.”

However, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria said he was not sorry to see the archbishop go.

When Dr. Williams assumed office, the Anglican Communion was a “happy family. Unfortunately, he is leaving behind a Communion in tatters: highly polarized, bitterly factionalized, with issues of revisionist interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and human sexuality as stumbling blocks to oneness, evangelism and mission all around the Anglican world.

Since Dr. Rowan Williams “did not resign in 2008, over the split Lambeth Conference, one would have expected him to stay on in office, and work assiduously to ‘mend the net’ or repair the breach, before bowing out of office. The only attempt, the covenant proposal, was doomed to fail from the start,” Archbishop Okoh said.

For Nigeria, the “announcement does not present any opportunity for excitement. It is not good news here, until whoever comes as the next leader pulls back the Communion from the edge of total destruction.”

American Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wrote that she was “grateful for Rowan Williams’ service as Archbishop of Canterbury during an exceedingly challenging season. We can all give thanks for his erudition and persistence in seeking reconciliation across a rapidly changing Anglican Communion.”

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen observed that Dr. Williams was “universally admired for his intellectual stature and his personal warmth.  In his time as Archbishop, the Anglican Communion has been subjected to unprecedented stresses which have hastened an inevitable tendency to regional independence and decentralisation. With the majority of Anglicans now from theologically conservative churches of the Global South, the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the future will demand a deepening appreciation of their place in the Communion.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Archbishop calls for rejection of state secrets bill: The Church of England Newspaper, February 24, 2012 p 6. March 1, 2012

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church, political and civil society leaders have called for a legal challenge to the state secret’s bill should South Africa’s National Council of Provinces (NCOP) endorse the African National Congress-backed legislation.

The Protection of State Information Bill has drawn wide spread political and civil opposition since it was proposed last year, and is currently under public review across the country’s provinces.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town has urged the government to redraft the bill while the Helen Suzman Foundation this week urged the NCOP to reject the document in its current form, while the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party has called for the NCOP review process to be scrapped.

In a submission to the NCOP, the pro-democracy foundation said the bill was open to manipulation and political interference.  “The Bill, in its current form, is an arbitrary exercise of state power based on the Bill’s dismally poor governance framework and ambiguous use of definitions,’ the Foundation said.

Archbishop Makgoba concurred; writing last year to President Jacob Zuma to say the bill brought back memories of the apartheid era.  “The passage of the Protection of State Information Bill has stirred up in me vivid memories of my time as a student in the 1980s at Wits, and the traumatising experience of police ransacking our residence as they looked for classified material,” the archbishop said.

“The undercurrent of fear running through our lives that this created is so totally in contradiction to the open atmosphere of constructively critical readings of our life and times which we so much need in South Africa today,” he said.

While the state has the duty to classify and protect state secrets, the current bill lacks “an adequate public interest clause” to punish government officials who cloak their personal actions under the guise of state secrets.

The proposed law would “create an atmosphere similar to repressive apartheid censorship, and thereby gag the truth; hide corruption; conceal maladministration, incompetence and unjust practices; and stunt our open society at every level from the national and international to the most local,” the archbishop said, urging the president to send it back to the cabinet for review.

On 17 Feb 2012 the IFP has called for the “urgent and immediate suspension” of the NCOP hearings as they were being “used to mobilize ANC supporters and silence the opposition.”

Prince MMM Zulu, the IFP’s representative in the NCOP, stated the IFP could not “sit back and allow this constitutionally mandated process to be abused by the ANC especially in KwaZulu Natal, who are bussing in their own supporters to various venues to silence critics of this Bill. The ANC is abusing their power to make a mockery of the process.”

Missing millions trial underway in S.A.: The Church of England Newspaper, February 17, 2012 p 6. February 23, 2012

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Trial has begun in South Africa of a former diocesan bookkeeper accused of stealing over R2.3 million (£200,000) from the Diocese of George.  Gwendoline Leyd (45) is scheduled to appear for trial before the George Regional Court in the Western Cape on 28 February 2012 to face 10 counts of theft.

The scandal has far led to the resignation of the Bishop of George, the Rt. Rev. Donald Harker, and to the dissolution of the diocese’s Board of Finance.

In a 12 Aug 2010 letter to the diocese, Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba wrote that a Port Elizabeth auditor firm was investigating over 1000 suspect transactions in excess of R6 million that had been brought to the church’s attention in 2009.

The auditors found that “significant fraud and theft had been taking place and that a forensic audit was required to ascertain the extent of the amount embezzled.”

“After visiting Bishop Harker, he agreed to step down as Diocesan Bishop with effect from 10 August 2010,” the archbishop said.

Bishop Harker was not accused of malfeasance. “I resigned as head of the church as this is the honourable thing to do as I accept responsibility and thereby take the liabilities on me,” the bishop later told his clergy.

Ms. Leyd served as the diocese’s accounts clerk for 16 years until 2009.  Following the audit the Commercial Crime Unit arrested the bookkeeper on 10 charges of theft in excess of R2.3-million.

Southern Cape police spokeswoman Captain Bernadine Steyn stated the suspect allegedly moved funds from the church’s accounts into her personal account via the internet and also claimed false medical expenses, allowances and additional salary.

“Fictitious beneficiaries were allegedly created to receive church money, and money was allegedly paid into Leyd’s brother’s personal bank account, and then used by the suspect,” Captain Steyn said.

Cape Town covenant plea: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2012 p 7. January 18, 2012

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The Archbishop of Cape Town has published an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury that urges the provinces of the Anglican Communion to adopt the Anglican Covenant.

On 10 January 2012, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba released a letter offering a theological rationale in support of the Covenant saying it was “necessary” ingredient for Anglicans “in recalling us to ourselves.”

Whether Dr Makgoba’s plea will find a receptive audience is uncertain, however, as strong objections to the Covenant have been voiced by liberals and conservatives. Although a number of smaller provinces have endorsed the Covenant, primarily out of local considerations, within the larger Churches the momentum appears to be moving towards rejecting the document.

Within the Church of England four dioceses have endorsed the document, and four have rejected it. The Church of Ireland has given a qualified endorsement, as has the Province of South East Asia. Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Mexico and the West Indies have signalled their approval.

However, sentiment in the Episcopal Church, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and Australia is running against the Covenant, while the Global South primates group has called for its rejection as has the House of Bishops of the Philippine Episcopal Church.

In his letter, Dr Makgoba argues salvation comes not through the working of institutions, but through the actions of Christ. The Covenant supports this end as it is an instrument that “places God’s vision for God’s Church and God’s world centre-stage; and then invites us to live into this as our ultimate and overriding context and calling.”

He rejects claims the Covenant will impose an institutional straightjacket on the Church, arguing the document does not have that authority. Dr Makgoba also notes that the concerns raised about autonomy are a due to a failure of trust and theological imagination.

The identity of the Communion’s member Churches “should not principally be conveyed through legal prisms, whether of some form of centralising authority, or of Provinces’ constitutions and canon law which must be ‘safeguarded’ from external ‘interference’.”

“The provisions of the Covenant – which neither create new structures nor interfere in Provinces’ life – should be understood,” Dr Makgoba concludes in terms of “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”Adopting the Covenant means “constraining ourselves through the same sort of mutuality of love St Paul had in mind when he wrote ‘all things are lawful but not all things are beneficial – all things are lawful but not all things build up’,” Dr Makgoba said.

He acknowledged the work would be difficult, but commended the agreement to the Communion as a way forward through its present divisions.a

Cape Town archbishop denounces hate speech: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 14, 2011 p 6. October 19, 2011

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Julius Malema, Photo:Gary van der Merwe

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Cape Town has stepped into the African National Congress (ANC)’s political civil war, obliquely chastising the leader of the party’s youth wing, Julius Malema, for racist speech.

In a speech printed in the Cape Times on16 September, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba called on South Africans to join him and “denounce” inflammatory language. “Hate speech, racist talk, sexist language only oppresses and imprisons,” he said.

The Archbishop’s comments follow last month’s court ruling that ruled Mr Malema was guilty of hate speech for his singing of “Shoot the Boer” at political rallies. The refrain in the Zulu language song popularized during the apartheid era — “the cowards are scared, shoot shoot, shoot shoot, shoot the Boer” — was found to be hate speech under South African law.

A political rival to President Jacob Zuma, Mr Malema denounced the court’s 12 September ruling as racist saying “once again we find ourselves subjected to white minority approval. Apartheid is being brought through the back door.”

He called for songs from the apartheid era to be protected as free political speech. “These were the songs of resistance and they will never die,” he said.

In 2009 Mr Malema helped President Zuma gain the top spot in the ANC, but he has since broken with the president. He faces an internal ANC disciplinary hearing for bringing the party into disrepute after he called for the Botswana government to be overthrown, calling it “puppet” of the West.

He has also clashed with the president on economic policy, applauding Robert Mugabe’s regime and has called for the state to nationalize South Africa’s mines and seize white-owned farms.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba stated that freedom of speech “is entrenched in our Constitution” and was a “necessary bed-rock of democratic life.”

“But this does not mean we can and should say anything, anywhere, merely on the grounds that we claim it is ‘truth’. Nor should restraint merely consist in establishing the maximum we can get away with when arguing before the courts. No, freedom of speech touches on the very essence of what it is to be human, and to be committed to the well being of other human beings.

“Hate speech is not merely a legal category. It is, as I have said often before (when people have been called ‘snakes’ and ‘dogs’ and worse), any utterance that diminishes and degrades other human beings, other children of God. More than this, it diminishes and degrades not only its target, but also the speaker – for it demonstrates a general failure to understand and respect people at large,” the Archbishop said.

“The same is true of those who resort to racial epithets, or demeaning sexual slurs,” he said, adding that such language “undermines our capacity to ‘fulfil the promise’ of democracy, through building the sort of individual character and mature society which will help create the opportunity for every citizen to flourish.”