Archbishop Stephen Brislin poses for a photograph with Italian Consular Agent Mr Antonio Rapisardis (left) and the Italian Consul Mr Emanuele Pollio (right) in his office at the Chancery.
Archbishop Stephen Brislin responds to recent media reports about CWD in the following Statement; a Letter to the Parishes; and an interview on Cape Talk, yesterday 6th March, with John Maytham.
You are cordially invited to celebrate the Book Launch of
LIGHT THROUGH THE BARS by Fr Babychan Arackathara MSFS
Date: Wednesday, 20 March 2019 at 18.00
Venue: Archdiocesan Chancery, 12 Bouquet Street, Cape Town
Kindly RSVP via Email: email@example.com; or Mobile/Whatsapp: +2781 271 2451 on or before 6 March 2019.
The book will be sold during the launch at R160, 30% less than the retail price. The proceeds of the sale will support the training of prison spiritual care workers and Restorative Justice facilitators.
A Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops of Southern Africa to the Catholic Community and all People of Goodwill.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“…Remembering the mercies of God … let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and mature.” (Romans 12:1-2)
In this spirit, we pray that the upcoming Elections will constitute a further step both in bringing about the kind of society God desires for us and in giving us leaders, men and women of integrity who will build that society.
Twenty-five years after the memorable elections of 1994, we celebrate that we have been able both to defend and to develop our democracy. We are grateful to good and honest people who have worked heroically and selflessly in the service of the nation. We are thankful also that the foundational institutions of our democracy have stood the test of time.
Sadly, we have also come to see a darker side of political life. Recent Commissions of Enquiry have and are exposing individuals in both the political and corporate sectors who have tragically betrayed the public trust and placed their own self-interest ahead of the common good of the country.
The General Election of May 8th presents all South Africans with the opportunity to renew our vision for South Africa. We have the power to choose the direction our country will take. It is imperative that we choose wisely and courageously and not be distracted by false promises.
Tough questions that seek honesty and truth
Our primary concern as your spiritual leaders is that we choose leaders who will promote the good of all by living the values of the Constitution in the light of the Gospel. Pope Francis urges us to look for “politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor!” (Evangelii Gaudium, 205).
In this context we ask you: who do you think would –
– eradicate corruption more effectively
– provide realistic programmes to overcome unemployment and poverty?
– appoint selfless public servants as leaders at national and provincial level?
– effectively reduce the level of violence tyrannising our people?
– transform those attitudes and practices which underlie the violence against women and children?
– respond effectively to the aspirations of our youth?
– fulfil the promises they make rather than disappoint us?
– protect our democracy and its institutions?
In short, who do you think would make us proud to be South Africans?
Each one must answer these questions according to their conscience.
We are challenged not to vote only to advance our own personal interests, be they interests of race, ethnic group or social and economic class. Rather we are called to vote in a way that will promote the common good.
Let us keep in mind the poor, the unemployed and the disadvantaged – it is Our Lord who reminds us that, whatever we do to the least of His brothers and sisters, we do to Him. (Mt 25:40)
A call for peaceful, free and fair elections
We each have a grave responsibility to create the environment of tolerance and acceptance which enables every South African to support and vote for the party that they choose, without fear of violence and intimidation. While this responsibility falls heavily on the political parties and the media, we urge the organs of State to proactively ensure the safety of all.
It is also the responsibility of each one of us to work for peaceful and free and fair elections.
We therefore urge political parties:
– to refrain from inflammatory, intimidating and inappropriate statements;
– to take visible, decisive action when candidates and their supporters are involved in acts of intolerance, intimidation, harassment and disturbance;
– to respect the election results;
– to do everything to ensure that the rule of law is respected.
We call on the media:
– to refrain from sensationalism,
– to report appropriately and responsibly for the benefit of the common good.
We call on you, bear Brothers and Sisters, to assist the Independent Electoral Commission, to monitor these elections by doing the following:
– volunteering as observers,
– assisting with conflict management.
A call to prayer
Let us pray for peaceful elections that produce leaders who will always act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with their God. (Micah 6:8)
We invite you to recite this prayer in your families and parishes as we prepare for the elections and also during the elections.
As we approach the elections, grant us the wisdom and courage we need
in order to make the right choices.
Help us to carry out our duties as responsible citizens with respect for the rights of others.
By voting in a spirit of humility and service, may we bring hope to the poor,
unity to all our people and a more secure and peaceful future for our children.
Father, do not allow us to become discouraged,
Inspire us to contribute to the rebuilding of our country with vigour and generosity.
Recalling our opening words from Scripture:
“… let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and mature…” (Romans 12:1-2)
we invoke God’s blessing upon you all and upon our nation.
Your Bishops, gathered at Mariannhill Retreat Centre, in Plenary Assembly, 12 February 2019.
For Information contact: Archbishop William Slattery: +27 83 468 5473. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please see attached details for the World AIDS Day Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral.
At: Springfield Convent High School music annex (below St Dominic’s Church), 3 Convent Road – off St John’s Road, Wynberg. On: Tuesday, 27 November 2018 at 6 for 6.30pm. Guest speakers: Fr Peter-John Pearson, Vicar General and Mr Paddy Kearney, Editor
In the wake of the most recent sex abuse scandals, Archbishop Stephen Brislin calls on all the faithful to observe a day of prayer, penance and fasting, expressing our own repentance and need for forgiveness and that of others, and showing solidatiry with all victims of sexual abuse. Attached below is his letter to all the faithful in English, Xhosa and Afrikaans:
The Chairperson of the Office of Migrants & Refugees, at the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), Archbishop Buti Tlhagale has condemned, in the strongest possible terms, the recent attacks on foreign nationals that occurred recently in Soweto and Zeerust. “Once again, we had to see media images of well dressed, well fed South Africans looting foreign owned shops, assaulting the owners, threatening them with death and leaving destruction and shattered lives in their wake” said Tlhagale. The Archbishop said he was taken aback to see the looters loading refrigerators, stoves and other equipment onto trucks, and driving away with it, while the Police stood by and did nothing.
In both Zeerust and Soweto, says the Archbishop, accusations of foreigners selling drugs and selling expired goods should have been brought to law enforcement agencies. But as the events unfolded, the local residents took the law unto themselves. Archbishop Tlhagale says “we are therefore, furthermore, concerned about ongoing reports of incitement against foreign nationals in Mamelodi and Polokwane.
Tlhagale continues that the statistics show that more than 80% of South Africans claim to be Christians (https://www.southafrica.to/people/customs/faiths.php), we therefore appeal to them that the most important commandment that they have to adhere to is “to love their neighbour as they love themselves” (Mark 12:31). Hatred towards anyone (even those of a different nationality, tribe, race, gender or religion) is a direct violation of this command. St Paul said that “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
To the 80% of South Africa’s self-identified “Christians” (which presumably includes the majority of those that rampaged through the streets of Soweto and Zeerust) the nationality of their fellow humans shouldn’t have entered the equation. God Himself makes it clear that He has a special concern for refugees: “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18). Jesus identified with refugees to such an extent, that he said that everyone who welcomes a refugee is welcoming Him (Matthew 25:35).
Archbishop Tlhagale has urged those still walking in the darkness of hatred, prejudice and ignorance, to turn to the light of compassion and human solidarity. He has called for sympathy for foreign nationals who have suffered damage, injury and loss. Archbishop has reiterated that “South Africans should extend their hands to work with all people of goodwill, who want to rid our country of xenophobic hatred and prejudice”.
Every human being is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). It is only once we begin to collectively act according to this truth, that God will be able to bless us and heal our land.
For immediate release. For further information contact Fr Patrick Rakeketsi at 012 323 6458 or 073 380 5629
Why won’t priests divulge crimes learnt of in the confessional?
Kieno Kammies, presenter of Cape Talk’s breakfast show speaks to Archbishop Stephen Brislin, Archbishop of Cape Town about why priests won’t divulge crimes learnt of in the confessional. This is in the light of the Catholic Church in Australia saying last week that it would be opposing laws forcing priests to report child abuse when they learn about it in the confessional, setting the stage for a showdown between the country’s biggest religion and the Australian government. Archbishop Brislin explains why.
Here is a link to the live broadcast: https://omny.fm/shows/the-kieno-kammies-show/why-wont-priests-divulge-crimes-learnt-of-in-the-c
“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26). These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons. Crimes that inflict deep wounds of pain and powerlessness, primarily among the victims, but also in their family members and in the larger community of believers and nonbelievers alike. Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated. The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults.
1. If one member suffers…
In recent days, a report was made public which detailed the experiences of at least a thousand survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years. Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the victims. We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these wounds never go away. The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity. The Lord heard that cry and once again showed us on which side he stands. Mary’s song is not mistaken and continues quietly to echo throughout history. For the Lord remembers the promise he made to our fathers: “he has scattered the proud in their conceit; he has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty” (Lk 1:51-53). We feel shame when we realize that our style of life has denied, and continues to deny, the words we recite.
With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them. I make my own the words of the then Cardinal Ratzinger when, during the Way of the Cross composed for Good Friday 2005, he identified with the cry of pain of so many victims and exclaimed: “How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to [Christ]! How much pride, how much self-complacency! Christ’s betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his body and blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison – Lord, save us! (cf. Mt 8:25)” (Ninth Station).
2. … all suffer together with it
The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way. While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough. Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit. If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history. And this in an environment where conflicts, tensions and above all the victims of every type of abuse can encounter an outstretched hand to protect them and rescue them from their pain (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 228). Such solidarity demands that we in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person. A solidarity that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption. The latter is “a comfortable and self-satisfied form of blindness. Everything then appears acceptable: deception, slander, egotism and other subtle forms of self-centeredness, for ‘even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light’ (2 Cor 11:14)” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 165). Saint Paul’s exhortation to suffer with those who suffer is the best antidote against all our attempts to repeat the words of Cain: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9).
I am conscious of the effort and work being carried out in various parts of the world to come up with the necessary means to ensure the safety and protection of the integrity of children and of vulnerable adults, as well as implementing zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable. We have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary, yet I am confident that they will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future.
Together with those efforts, every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need. This change calls for a personal and communal conversion that makes us see things as the Lord does. For as Saint John Paul II liked to say: “If we have truly started out anew from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see him especially in the faces of those with whom he wished to be identified” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 49). To see things as the Lord does, to be where the Lord wants us to be, to experience a conversion of heart in his presence. To do so, prayer and penance will help. I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command. This can awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse.
It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People. Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives. This is clearly seen in a peculiar way of understanding the Church’s authority, one common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred. Such is the case with clericalism, an approach that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people”. Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all forms of clericalism.
It is always helpful to remember that “in salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in the human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 6). Consequently, the only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God. This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within. Without the active participation of all the Church’s members, everything being done to uproot the culture of abuse in our communities will not be successful in generating the necessary dynamics for sound and realistic change. The penitential dimension of fasting and prayer will help us as God’s People to come before the Lord and our wounded brothers and sisters as sinners imploring forgiveness and the grace of shame and conversion. In this way, we will come up with actions that can generate resources attuned to the Gospel. For “whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 11).
It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable. Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.
Likewise, penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils. May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled. A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.
In this way, we can show clearly our calling to be “a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race” (Lumen Gentium, 1).
“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it”, said Saint Paul. By an attitude of prayer and penance, we will become attuned as individuals and as a community to this exhortation, so that we may grow in the gift of compassion, in justice, prevention and reparation. Mary chose to stand at the foot of her Son’s cross. She did so unhesitatingly, standing firmly by Jesus’ side. In this way, she reveals the way she lived her entire life. When we experience the desolation caused by these ecclesial wounds, we will do well, with Mary, “to insist more upon prayer”, seeking to grow all the more in love and fidelity to the Church (SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, Spiritual Exercises, 319). She, the first of the disciples, teaches all of us as disciples how we are to halt before the sufferings of the innocent, without excuses or cowardice. To look to Mary is to discover the model of a true follower of Christ.
May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them.
Vatican City, 20 August 2018