Coronavirus Has Exposed Deep Challenges In SA
By Dennis Jackson, Johannesburg – It is so sad! The arrival of the pandemic exposed a number of social challenges in our country.
We have seen during this time how unequal a society we are, with long queues of people from poorer communities living in squalor waiting for food handouts.
With the country’s economic activity coming to a halt, much focus and attention was given to bolster the health system which was in no position to handle the effects of the virus.
In fact, it exposed a number of gaps in the system. The recent reopening of the education system also showed how the poor and vulnerable remain on the periphery of society, with inadequate infrastructure and support to continue their learning during the lockdown.
Many households have been disrupted by the drastic measures imposed during the lockdown with detrimental effect.
It is so sad!
These situations prevailed even before the coronavirus entered our shores. More recently, we have seen an increase in racial tension and gender-based violence, and again, it is so sad because people have been crying out for action to be taken in a country whose racial divide is deep-rooted. Furthermore, we remain the epicentre for gender-based abuse.
While the Church is not able to solve the country’s problems, there are some social issues that require its voice, education and support. The Church’s faithful are not immune from these social issues and it needs to take a more prominent role.
- The Church needs to once again become an active participant in social and environmental matters. She needs to add her voice as a religious body that life matters.
- In the past, the Church always played an influential role in our country, and she needs to rebuild her credibility as a voice of the people.
- Within the Church community, education is critical. People need to become more aware and involved in social matters, and the Church can provide a platform to inform and educate.
- As an informed and educated Christian community, the laity can assist the clergy in a support infrastructure to help those who feel vulnerable, alone and exposed, giving them access to a safe and secure Christian resource.
As stated by Bishop Sithembele Sipuka: “Society changed and the Church needed to respond to those changing needs differently and effectively…that the Catholic Church needed to review its stance and purpose so that she could once again become an important and influential voice in the area of social justice, family and environmental matters in Southern Africa.”