Bishop Sipuka Slams Unholy Sunday Shopping
Worship of God today is weak because it has to compete with the “the worship of selling and buying”, according to the president of the bishops’ conference.
“People are not satisfied to buy and sell from Monday to Saturday morning; they also want to do the buying and selling on Sundays as well—so Sundays in terms of business are just like any [other] day,” said Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha.
That commercialism is reflected not only in weakening Sunday worship, but also in people’s general attitudes.
“Many people, even though they would deny it, are gradually believing that their worth lies in what they eat and in things that they have,” Bishop Sipuka said.
“The more we have of [these things], the more we want of them — and they leave us empty,” he said.
Paraphrasing the famous quote by the French philosopher Descartes, Bishop Sipuka said: “’I buy, therefore I am’ seems to be the defining principle of our identity. And so the command to keep the Sabbath day holy has been largely ignored,” he said.
“You will find, in fact, that sport has dethroned God. People are more in stadiums on Sundays and spending many hours in front of DStv’s SuperSport flipping channels for the latest game than being with God,” the bishop noted.
Bishop Sipuka was speaking at the episcopal ordination of Bishop Joseph Kizito in Aliwal North in the town’s Sauer Park stadium.
He emphasised that both Bishop Kizito and the Catholics whom he will be leading in the diocese have to find ways of remaining true to the commandment of keeping the Sabbath holy for the worship of God.
“May worship in this diocese be genuine and lead to an encounter with the true God, and not an encounter with God in our own image,” Bishop Sipuka said.
Ugandan-born Bishop Joe Kizito’s ordination was well-attended.
Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town presided over the ordination, which was attended by 23 bishops, including three from Uganda and two from Lesotho.
The new bishop’s mother, Christine Babirye Nsubuga, was present as well.
The 52-year-old prelate is the sixth and first black bishop of the diocese.
“I am so thankful to everyone who came and supported me on this day, especially Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town who presided over my ordination, and the bishops and diocesan clergy and priests. I felt very loved,” Bishop Kizito told The Southern Cross.
He especially appreciated Bishop Sipuka’s homily by which he felt both urged and encouraged to lead his people in proper worship and liturgy.
In his homily, Bishop Sipuka warned Bishop Kizito that he will find existing erroneous ways of worship, which as a bishop he will have to correct.
This is something Bishop Kizito plans to work on immediately as he seeks to continue to on the legacy of Bishop Fritz Lobinger, who headed Aliwal North diocese from 1989 to 2004.
Another of his immediate plans is the implementation of the new Pastoral Plan.
Programmes have already been prepared and will be introduced, Bishop Kizito told The Southern Cross.
In terms of challenges he faces in the diocese, Bishop Kizito said his major concern continues to be a lack of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
“In terms of vocations I am understaffed and a lot of priests are overworked. Most of my parish work is done by lay people,” he explained.
Another challenge is to become a self-sufficient Church.
“I’m going to ask the people to own the Church; the Church belongs to them. We are the Church, we are the Church of today, and we are now. So let us support our Church,” Bishop Kizito said.
Born in 1967 in Rubaga-Wakaliga, Uganda, Bishop Kizito has a science degree in technology from Urbaniana University in Rome.He was ordained to the priesthood in 1997 in the diocese of Aliwal North.In 2003 he was transferred to Sterkspruit pastoral region as a moderator and priest-in-charge.
He was appointed Bishop Michael Wüstenberg’s vicar-general in 2008. The following year Pope Benedict XVI conferred the title of honorary prelate, or monsignor.
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