Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - “Racism and racial division is still present in South Africa” the South African Catholic Bishops denounce, calling for “transparent dialogue” even though “we are aware that this is not easy and many would prefer to avoid it”. “Our invitation to such a dialogue, the Catholic Archbishop of Cape Town Stephen Brislin, also Chairman of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, writes in a Pastoral Letter “A Call to Overcome Racism”- may in itself evoke a range of emotions, including self-justification and self-righteous feelings; or, guilt and denial; on the other hand, feelings of anger and sadness. Dialogue, rational and respectful, is necessary so that we open ourselves to receive God’s healing.”. The Pastoral Letter, sent to Fides, underlines that South Africa has entered the third decade after gaining democratic freedom and rights, but still suffers from racial discrimination.
“In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, as Church in Southern Africa,- the letter continues - we commit ourselves to a credible and comprehensive conversation on racism. This means – Bishop Brislin continues – acknowledging the presence of racism in the Church before and during the apartheid era and in these years of democracy. In humility, as St. Peter confessed, we your pastors prostrate before God and before all who are in pain, ask for forgiveness for our historic complicity with racism in the Church.”.
The dialogue to which the Bishops invite the Church will be experienced at the diocesan and parish level and valorise the different cultures present in the community of the faithful. Dialogue which must be accompanied by prayer and fasting to ask forgiveness from communities marked by racial discrimination. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 8/3/2016)