Bishop: Engage With Issues Rather Than Just Bash Zuma
Catholics must speak with originality and deeper insight as they engage with the issues of today, instead of just joining in an “orgy of Zuma-bashing”, a bishop said at a Mass to celebrate 200 years of the Church in Southern Africa.
Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha gave the homily at the Mass, with the bishops of Southern Africa present, at the church of the Beatitudes in Pretoria East. It was presided over by Cardinal Wilfrid Napier.
The bishop told his fellow bishops that “we must examine how original and informed by the Word” we have been in making statements, or whether “like the scribes, we are merely repeating what everybody is saying”.
He spoke of the challenges for the second 200 years of the Church.
God Alone is Sufficient
“Some of the challenges we face are inspiring our priests and priest-candidates to find God and God alone as sufficient, and to be inspired by God in what they do and say, instead of finding their joy and a sense of purpose in material things and lazing around,” he said.
“Another challenge we face is that of the shortage of vocations, particularly women religious. Without them, the Church is diminished in its prophetic role. They have to discern their own way of being prophetic in today’s circumstances.”
Bishop Sipuka noted the striking demographic change of the leadership of the Church.
“When I was ordained a priest nearly 30 years ago, 85% of the priests participating in the ceremony, including the bishop, were European missionaries, and 15% local. Fast forward that to today, and the opposite is true, if not even less,” he said.
“The prophets in the form of European missionaries of the past 200 years are gone, and the locals from among our own brothers and sisters are being raised up to be prophets.
“It is good that this message is repeated, so that locals realise that the continuation of what the missionaries started now rests with them—and not just the maintenance, but also the growth of the Church,” Bishop Sipuka said.
He commended the dedicated involvement of lay people in the mission of the Church and expressed his wish that the newly-established Council for the Laity will achieve its purpose of conscientising the faithful of their obligation to that mission.
Bishop Sipuka called on the bishops to be supportive of priests, so that they in turn could be caring to the faithful entrusted to them.
“We thank God for the 200 years of the Church in Southern Africa, and for the missionaries who laid the foundation,” he said.
“As we take the baton for the next 200 years, we are all asked to be committed to the mission given to us, and to exercise our ministry with the authority that wells from our deep personal relationship with Christ.”