Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - "How nice it is to be here physically after so long", said His Exc. Mgr. João Rodrigues, Bishop of Tzaneen, at the beginning of his homily during the opening Mass of the plenary session of the Southern African Catholic Bishops 'Conference (SACBC, which brings together the Bishops of Botswana, South Africa and eSwatini) at St. John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria. The SACBC meeting will be held for the first time in presence since the plenary meeting in January 2020.
Referring to the social consequences caused by the pandemic crisis, Mgr. Rodrigues recalled the mass looting in South Africa in July 2021 (see Fides, 30/7/2021): "I could not believe that something like this was happening in our country so quickly". The Bishop stressed that division and disorder do not arise from the differences between people, but from how these differences are used to provoke divisions. "The communion of God that unites us is more powerful than the differences that tempt us to division and disorder", he stressed.
The President of the SACBC, His Exc. Monsignor Sithembele Sipuka, Bishop of Umtata reported that the usual pastoral programs of the parishes are gradually resuming, with the faithful once again participating in Sunday Mass. Monsignor Sipuka praised Monsignor Jose Louis Ponce de Leon, together with his priests, religious and lay people, for their humble but incisive testimony in the face of the painful situation of political unrest in the country, and eSwatini (see Fides, 7/9/2021; 19/10/ 2021).
Mgr. Sipuka then recalled two protagonists of the end of apartheid who recently passed away, former President Mr. FW De Klerk, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as the successes and failures of government action in managing the Covid-19 situation, and the important role played by the media in denouncing corruption in the Country. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 20/1/2022)