IMBISA DOCUMENTATION NO 8 (English)

October 2014

Editorial

“Evangelization – Communication – Formation”

New Evangelization concerns the Christian faith in general and the Church’s teaching on Man and Woman and their relationship, Marriage and Family in particular. The “Instrumentum Laboris”/”Working Paper” for the Bishops’ Synod on Family shows clearly that Catholics just do not know or do not accept all the Church’s teaching. The Synodal document is very open about this.

IMBISA (Pastoral Department) has sent out a Questionnaire on “Evangelization – Communication – Formation”.

If the Church wants to evangelize (make the Good News known), she must have the right instruments (communication, use of media) and train her ministers and pastoral workers in the use of these media, many of which are still new (electronic media, social media etc). It is 11 years ago since formators of priests last met for a conference (July 2003, Harare/Zimbabwe). Since then much has changed, there is a new situation concerning evangelization and communication. New institutes have been set up. The issue of on-going formation has become even more urgent.

This time also those concerned with communication and evangelization will be invited. Venue : Johannesburg. Date : mid-2015.

The preparation has started, but all depends on bishops, seminary teachers and formators and their response to this proposal (see final question in the questionnaire “Evangelization – Communication – Formation”. )

IMBISA is producing a book on communication and media for the use of Bishops and houses of formation entitled “Word and Image” which will be distributed before the end of the year. Actual production depends how soon our donors provide the funds.

INSTRUMENTUM LABORIS / WORKING PAPER IN PREPARATION OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS ON THE FAMILY AND NEW EVANGELIZATION, October 2014 ROME.

The full text is accessible on the Internet Vatican website www.vatican.va, see Vatican offices, Synod office.

The text of 159 paragraphs offers a wide-ranging report on the situation of marriage and family life in all parts of the world. It offers an analysis of the present situation as well as suggestions of how to remedy the often dire situations in which parents and children find themselves. – We are publishing just a few paragraphs of particular significance.

Isolation and Breakdown of Communication

  1. Most responses indicate that one of the many critical issues facing the family is a difficulty in relationships and communication. Whether it be tensions and conflicts in a marriage due to a lack of mutual trust and intimacy or the domination of one marriage partner over the other or the inter-generational conflict between parents and children, all hinder the building of family relationships and can even make them entirely impossible. The dramatic aspect of these situations is that they lead to the gradual disappearance of the possibility of dialogue as well as the time and opportunity to work on relationships. For want of sharing and communication, each one is forced to face difficulties in isolation without an experience of being loved and, in turn, loving others. In some places in society, persons often don’t experience love, especially the love of a father, thereby making it particularly difficult to experience God’s love and him as Father. The lack of a father-figure in many families causes major imbalances in households and uncertainty in gender identification in children. People who do not witness, live and accept love on a daily basis find it particularly difficult to discover the person of Christ as the Son of God and the love of God the Father.

Sexual Abuse

  1. Responses from almost every part of the world frequently refer to the sexual scandals within the Church (pedophilia, in particular) and, in general, to a negative experience with the clergy and other persons. Sex scandals significantly weaken the Church’s moral credibility, above all in North America and northern Europe. In addition, a conspicuously lavish lifestyle by some of the clergy shows an inconsistency between their teaching and their conduct. Some lay faithful live and practice their faith in a “showy manner,” failing to display the truth and humility required by the Gospel spirit. The responses lament that persons who are separated, divorced or single parents sometimes feel unwelcome in some parish communities, that some clergy are uncompromising and insensitive in their behaviour; and, generally speaking, that the Church, in many ways, is perceived as exclusive, and not sufficiently present and supportive. In this sense, an open and positive pastoral approach is needed, one which can restore confidence in the institution through a credible witness by all her members.

Not Judging but Healing

  1. Pastoral charity impels the Church to assist people who have suffered the breakdown of their marriage and are living with their situation relying on the grace of Christ. A more painful wound results when these people remarry and enter a state of life which does not allow them to receive Holy Communion. Clearly, in these cases, the Church must not assume an attitude of a judge who condemns (cf. Pope Francis, Homily, 28 February 2014), but that of a mother who always receives her children and nurses their wounds so they may heal (cf. GE, 139-141). With great mercy, the Church is called to find forms of “accompaniment” which can support her children on the path of reconciliation. With patience and understanding, she must explain to these people that their not being able to celebrate the sacraments does not mean that they are excluded from the Christian life and a relationship with God.

“Ecologically-minded approach to human living”

  1. From the pastoral point of view, the responses, in very many cases, see the need to make better known what was stated in Humanae Vitae and to propose a coherent anthropological vision in revitalized language, not only in pre-marriage preparation but also in instructional courses on love in general. Some responses suggest that the presentation of the methods of the natural regulation of fertility be done in collaboration with well-qualified people from both the field of medicine and the parish. For this purpose, the responses insist on collaboration with academic institutions engaged in study and research on these methods and in the promotion of a more ecologically-minded approach to human living. Similarly, the responses suggest including the subject in the seminary formation of future priests, given that priests are sometimes unprepared to deal with these issues and sometimes provide inexact and misleading information.

Documentation

Canon Law

Canon Law Society of Southern Africa : Sixth Annual Conference, Ukuphila, Bluff, Durban, 11 – 14 August 2014

About 30 priests, most from SA, two from Zimbabwe, one from Namibia, and for a time also some bishops, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier OFM, Archbishop Jabulani Nxumalo OMI, Bishops Joe Sandri, Risi, Jan de Groef, Frank D Gouveia, Mpambane, Malinga took part, also four women officials working for marriage tribunals: Marieke Vrugtman played a central role as secretary and organizer.

The main speaker was Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, formerly the archbishop of St Louis, Missouri, USA, now Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura in the Vatican.

His first lecture was about Canon Law at the Service of Justice and Freedom in the Church.

He deplored the secularism of the First World which lives “as if God did not exist”. Therefore there is great need for new evangelization in a truly renewed Church which needs to be re-evangelized herself. The programme is not a formula, but a Person, “I am with you”, which is found in the Gospel and in a Living Tradition.

We must overcome the rupture in the Church. “The rupture is embodied in the perception that everything which happened in the Church since the time of the first disciples was a betrayal and that the Church must, therefore, be created ex novo by somehow returning to the life of the primitive ecclesial community, viewed in a naïve manner….”

Pope Benedict , looking back on Vatican Council II, contrasted a “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” and a “hermeneutic of reform”. The former “risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church”.

This rupture manifested itself in an erosion of marital fidelity and family life, and the denial of procreation (children , family). It also showed in the betrayal of the liturgical reform allowing the liturgy to express the individual personality of the celebrant. The decline in morality has also had an effect on the Church, in the sexual abuse of minors by clergy, the marketing of child pornography, sexual tourism, and the deadly abuse of drugs.

The “hermeneutic of discontinuity” led also to contempt for law in general and canon law in particular. “The legalism of the past had been supplanted not only by openness to the new spirit but perhaps also by a tendency to underestimate the need for a healthy ecclesiastical order. The culture of canon law was reduced, with the effect that law was seen as an obstacle to the manifestation of the spirit in the church” (John Coughlin OFM). “The failure of knowledge and application of the canon law, which was still in force, contributed significantly to the scandal of sexual abuse of minors by the clergy….the discipline in place was not followed because it was no known and, in fact, was presumed not to exist”. The Council did not repudiate the Law of the Church which defends the rights of the members of the Church.

“The concern about the breakdown of canonical discipline in the Church’s matrimonial tribunals ….is a concern for the sanctity itself of marriage”. [This may apply especially to the United States which had more nullity declarations than the rest of the world where matrimonial tribunals are often non-existent or not functioning at all. – editor].

Canon Law is said to be in opposition to proper pastoral care. “Both justice and charity postulate love for truth and essentially entail searching for truth. The purpose of canon law is the service of faith and grace, and of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and charity” (John Paul II).

John Paull II appealed urgently that the liturgical norms of the celebration of the Eucharist be observed; they express the “ecclesial nature of the Eucharist….Liturgy is never anyone’s private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated.”

The New Evangelisation must express the fullness of the Gospel of the Family and not timidly reduce it to fit current culture. New ways of making it attractive and liberating must be found , as we approach the Synod on Family and New Evangelisation.

Card Burke’s second paper was on The Nullity of Marriage Process as the Search for Truth. He emphasized that the tribunal must find the truth. Law is based on truth, and it has a pastoral purpose since all actions of the Church are taken for the salvation of souls. The purpose of the tribunals is not to make another marriage possible nullifying the first marriage regardless of the truth.

There is no contradiction between the law and pastoral care, as is assumed often today.

Many Catholics do not even know about marriage tribunals and their purpose and procedures. So the cardinal recommended that “tribunals should provide information to the public about the nature and purpose and procedures of the tribunal, as well as information about the possible grounds of nullity of marriage. They should also have the practice of welcoming those whose marriages have failed to approach the tribunal.”

[Even priests are often poorly informed about the work of matrimonial tribunals. So they fail to inform the faithful in an irregular situation to seek assistance through the tribunal. ]

Some pastors put pressure on tribunals, to the point that they have fixed a date already for a wedding , taking it for granted that there will be a declaration of nullity. This is not the purpose of the tribunal, just to remove the “obstacle” of a still existing marriage bond. A declaration of nullity not based on truth is invalid. The tribunals must seek the truth and be evenhanded. Impartiality must be maintained. Just delivering a judgment in favour of the petitioner while possibly scandalizing the respondent is not the function of a tribunal.

Marriage is a natural reality. It is not indissoluble only as a sacrament. Jesus said about divorce “it was not so in the beginning”. Even natural marriage is meant for life. The sacrament of matrimony is “not a subsequent and extrinsic reality to the natural datum”. It is the natural reality of marriage designed by the Creator to last for life which is “taken up and raised by Christ to a sign and means of salvation”. Marriage is lasting for life as a natural reality, not just as sacrament. There is not a marriage for non-believers different from sacramental marriage for believers. The natural reality is the same for all.

The canonical process is a dialectical process. “The principle, et audiatur altera pars [let also the other side be heard], is not just a recognition of the right of the other party to be heard and to respond, but it is also a critical means of arriving at the truth”. That is why the office of the “defender of the bond” was introduced.

The “search for the truth requires the tribunal to do everything possible to locate and cite the respondent, but also to encourage and assist his participation” [‘respondent’ means the spouse of the ‘petitioner’ who is seeking a declaration of nullity].

Already in the 12th century it was said that “Often witnesses, corrupted by money, are easily induced to give false testimony”. For that reason Pius XII exhorted all involved “not to depart from the truth…In matrimonial cases before ecclesiastical tribunals there is never room for trickery, perjury, subornation, or fraud of any kind!”

Love must go together with justice and truth. “Charity without justice is not charity, but a counterfeit, because charity itself requires that objectivity which is typical of justice, and which must not be confused with inhuman coldness”.

Cardinal Burke’s final paper dealt with “Jurisprudence regarding new grounds of nullity introduced by some tribunals”.

“While the Apostolic Signatura has the universal concern for the right administration of justice in the Church, the Roman Rota supplies the unity of jurisprudence.”

Can “error of Law” (ignorance of the law) be a ground for nullity? “ Canon 1096 states, “For matrimonial consent to exist, the contracting parties must at least not be ignorant that marriage is a permanent partnership between a man and a woman ordered to the procreation of children by means of some sexual cooperation”.

John Paul II said, “No one can deny that the current mentality of the society in which we live has difficulty in accepting the indissolubility of the marital bond and the very concept of marriage as the ‘covenant by which a man and a woman establish between them a partnership of the whole of life’”. But this does not mean that the ‘existence of true consent must be proven’ rather than its non-existence, as current church law says. ‘A marriage is presumed to be valid until the contrary is proven’. This means, it cannot be assumed that a marriage is presumed to be invalid until proven valid.

“The apostolic tribunals must manifest unity between themselves in providing for the correct jurisprudence in the universal Church”.

Cardinal Burke, in a discussion following the presentation of his papers, remarked that Nature itself teaches us about Marriage, it is not just a matter of Culture. And culture does not force us, there is no determinism. – Most unfortunately there is a collapse of the Church’s teaching on contraception. Once you separate the sexual union from procreation, sexual intimacy from having children, marriage and family collapse as we are observing just now. So the Church has to pay particular attention to them. – The “gender Ideology” that is currently spreading all round calls male and female identity into question. Whether you are male or female, according to this ideology, has nothing to do with how you were born. It is a matter of choice and of the social environment. Example: a boy comes home from school where the “gender ideology” is taught as being “politically correct” and declares to his mother that from now on he wants to be a girl….There is only one type of marriage according to human nature, not many choices (among them “same sex unions”). “Gender” according to this popular thinking in secularized society is “merely a human construct”. So we need a “theology of the body”.

Several Discussion Papers were presented. Msgr John Finlayson spoke on Auditors – Function and Training. He/she has to gather proofs for the case to be investigated by the tribunal, i.e. produce the “libellus” [little book], containing the story of the petitioner and answers to a detailed questionnaire. It depends on this information whether a case is accepted or not accepted. The auditor is not to harass the petitioner. The parish priest has to make the first interview. In the discussion it was suggested that priests should be trained to do this, a list of priests qualified should be published. A written guideline is needed (Fr Edmund O’Neill SDB). There is much ignorance among priests about canonical matters. There used to be regular sessions for priests discussing “cases” with knowledgeable fellow priests/canon lawyers. Unfortunately this was discontinued. This useful custom should be revived (e.g. at deanery meetings) and other pastoral matters should be included, e.g. moral problems, in the light pastoral psychology (Fr Oskar Wermter SJ).

Fr Noel Rucastle spoke on the Ministyry and Spirituality of the permanent diaconate. Has the purpose for the restoration of the permanent diaconate been achieved? See the book by Sipihwe Felix M. Mkhize PhD, ….And the Eyes of All Looked intently at Him – Understanding the Mystery of Permanent Diaconate, Mariannhill Mission Press, 2013, available in Catholic book shops.

Fr Dr Edmund O’Neill SDB spoke on Church Property Issues in Canon Law. He deplored that there were less than 12 canon lawyers in Southern Africa (SACBC). St. Augustine’s College cannot run the course because of a lack of students. The New Canon Law has seven books, it speaks about the rights and obligations of the laity (that they have rights is unknown in some quarters). Marriage is dealt with very extensively, almost too much so. The Catholic Church is a very big property owner and the right administration of property is very important (Book 5 has 56 canons on the issue).

Fr Thabo Mothshega (Administrator of Johannesburg Cathedral) spoke on the Administrative Function in the Service of the Church. – Parish priests must keep records of employment relationships, annual financial accounts, registers, historical records and archives. He deplored that many parishes have not yet installed computers. [ This would be a worthwhile topic for the church in itself: the Church and modern information technology. For example: if baptism and marriage registers were stored accessible in computers recent baptism certificates required for marriages could be obtained easily]. – Fr Mothshega’s paper was excellent. It should be published widely. The subject should be taught in seminaries and candidates for ordination should be introduced to administration when on pastoral experience in parishes, provided the parish office is not “just a mess”.

Fr Dr Rodney Moss spoke on Some Theological and Canonical Considerations concerning the Relationship between the Magisterium and Catholic Theologians. Theology is “faith seeking understanding”, it is an ongoing process, comprehending what we believe. Theology is an ecclesial science. The theologian must be a person of faith. There is a “freedom of enquiry” (Gaudium et Spes, Vat Council II). The relationship between Bishops and Theologians rests on the biblical vision of authority restored by Vatican II as a service to the community of the Church. The diocesan bishop acts as moderator and monitor. Advice : always listen to more than one theologian. There needs to be dialogue between bishops and theologians in a cooperative relationship. Theologians are not to act as isolated individuals, but as members of the Church into which they are incorporated. Magisterium and theology need each other.

Fr Noel Rucastle, matrimonial tribunal of Cape Town Archdiocese, was elected new president of the Canon Law Society of Southern Africa, Vice-President and Consultor: Fr E O’Neill SDB, Cape Town, Secretary/Tresurer: Ms Marieke Vrugtman, Johannesburg.

The lectures of Cardinal Burke will be published in “Grace and Truth” (Fr Stuart C Bate OMI). They will also be accessible on the IMBISA website, together with discussion papers of the Conference: www.imbisa.wordpress.com

oWe

 SYNOD ON THE FAMILY

Expectations of a Diocesan Bishop

Mgr Johan Bonny, Bishop of Antwerp/Belgium, has published his personal reflections on the forthcoming Synod on the Family. You find this very remarkable essay of 22 pages in INTAMS Review: Journal for the Study of Marriage and Spirituality, Vol. 20/1 (2014, 150 pp, English, German, French). Look it up in the Internet: www.intams.com/BishopsSynod.htm. See under ‘Useful Links’ : Synod on the Family – Expectations of a Diocesan Bishop.

Bishop Bonny starts off with a reflection on Collegiality as practised and understood at Vatican Councill II, i.e. with an ecclesiological question: how are we dealing with this problem of moral theology, pastoral theology and canon law in todays’ Church? What is the role of “conscience” in making moral decisions?

He has studied the “Instrumentum Laboris” of the Synod and is aware that the Church in the USA and western/northern Europe differs in her thinking from that of the Church in Africa and Asia. He calls for complementarity.

He is guided and encouraged by Pope Francis and quotes the Pope’s apostolic letter ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ frequently. As a bishop visiting his flock for Confirmation he meets spouses in many different situations, just as Jesus mixed with a very mixed crowd of people.

He argues for dialogue with Catholics and their pastors who are no longer able to apply some rules of the Church in various marital situations, but he also wishes to “challenge rather than to pamper them”. – oWe

INDISSOLUBILITY OF MARRIAGE IN SCRIPTURE AND TRADITION

Some Theological and Canonical Questions

The forthcoming Synod of Bishops on the Family has revived the discussion about divorce and remarriage.

Jesus has insisted that “What God has united man must not put asunder”. He did not approve of the exception allowed by Moses because of men’s “hardness of heart”. “It was not so in the beginning”. Marriage, even natural non-sacramental marriage, is for life. It is a moral obligation to preserve the unity of the married spouses for life. This is divine right, and no human authority can change this; even the Church has no authority to dissolve a consummated sacramental marriage.

But in fact the early Church did dissolve certain types of marriages. Matthew 5: 32 says against Moses (Deut. 24: 1ff against Genesis 2 : 21 ff) that divorce is not permitted, “except on the ground of unchastity” (See also Matthew 19: 3 – 9). Was this the practical ruling of the early Church?

The Eastern Church follows the principle of “oikonomia” which accepts that marriages do in fact break down and come to an end, so that the Church has to find a way to help people in that situation. “The Church has the authority to find a pastoral solution in individual situations. For Man was not made for the law, but the law was made for man; and the highest law is the salvation of the person” (Melchitic Patriarch Maximos IV, 1967). Even Roman Catholic Canon Law says that “the salvation of souls always must be the supreme law of the Church” (c. 1752 CIC).

St Paul also knows a situation when a valid marriage can be dissolved, “Privilegium Paulinum”, see c. 1143 – 1150. Faith is the greater good which must be protected, overruling even a valid natural marriage, “in favorem fidei” – “in favour of the faith”. “But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you.” (1 Cor. 7: 15).

The Church does permit the spouses in a sacramental marriage to separate ( cc. 1151 – 1155 CIC) even permanently. If the reason were the loss of faith of one of the spouses, endangering the faith of the children, could the Church not act as St Paul and apply the “Privilegium Paulinum” is such a situation? Why should the Church lack the authority and power to do so? Did Jesus not give Peter “the keys of the kingdom” (Matthew 16: 19) and the power “to bind and to loose”?

Can we still assume the Sacrament of Marriage to exist where in fact the spouses no longer live in marital communion or no longer live it in faith, so that the covenant between Christ and his Church is no longer represented by them?

It could of course be argued that the marriage has to be preserved under all circumstances for the sake of the “bonum commune” – “common good”, e.g. for the sake of the children. But whether or not this is actually the case depends on human judgement, not absolute divine law.

Jesus’ command that the spouses are obliged to live their marriage as a life-long commitment, preserving the marriage bond based on the created order and sacramentality, remains. But does the Church, more especially the Pope as Peter’s successor, not have the authority to declare that a marriage may in effect have failed and come to an end? That is the question.

Such is the theological argument, presented here in a rather shortened form, just to inform member bishops of IMBISA about the ongoing debate. -oWe

(This presentation is based entirely on an article by Fr J G Gerhartz SJ, a retired professor of canon law, which was first published in German in Herder-Korrespondenz, Blickpunkt, August 2014, under the title “Wirklich unaufloeslich? –Die Ehe in Lehre und Praxis der katholischen Kirche” – “Really indissoluble? Marriage in the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church”).

“TABLET TALK”

Extract : Economy

By Bishop Kevin Dowling CSSR, Rustenburg

Now, the great challenge which remains even 20 years after democracy in South Africa is economic justice and transformation – a much more difficult quest. And that is our problem in present day South Africa, and perhaps in many places around the world – the lack of ethically informed public discussions, policy-making and implementation around all that has to be done to promote the common good, especially in terms of the poor and vulnerable. It has to therefore deal with the absence of an ability and indeed commitment by political leaders in particular to think ‘out of the box’ and to creatively imagine how things could be different, to imagine differently instead of ideologically. Social justice and the opportunities for a more wholesome life in democracies, especially social democracies, can only really be achieved on the foundation of massive public spending on Government supported programmes concerning proper health care, education – including higher education and skills training, safety nets for the poor such as legal aid, and so on. But do the political elites in our globalised world know what an ethic of sharing and solidarity actually means in the face of growing inequality in our world? Do they have the political will to legislate ethically for social justice programmes which will really make a difference, and to accept the sacrifices this will entail?

Bishop Kevin Dowling gave a lecture on   “From South to North : Lessons for the Church from the Developing World” in July 2014 in Westminster Hall, London, at the invitation of THE TABLET. The full text of the lecture is accessible on our IMBISA website…….

THE BISHOPS SPEAK

MESSAGE OF THE LESOTHO CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE

ON THE CURRENT SITUATION IN LESOTHO (2 Sept 2014)

 A Call for Peace in our Land

Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal.1 3).

We, the Lesotho Catholic Bishops’ Conference meeting in our Ordinary Meeting today on 2nd September 2014, wish to offer each and everyone our best wishes, for a life filled with joy and hope. Remember that “In the heart of every man and woman is the desire for a full life, including that irrepressible longing for fraternity which draws us to fellowship with others and enables us to see them not as enemies or rivals, but as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced” (Pope Francis, 2014). A lasting Peace is possible only if justice is done to the legitimate concerns and expectations of all parties involved. This is why dialogue is so important in the process of peace making.

We have learned with greatest dismay and shock in the early hours of the morning of August, 30th 2014 “Military Operations” which seized several key Police stations in Maseru, in which one Police officer was brutally killed and several others injured. While we unconditionally condemn this inhumane acts, we also wish to express our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of the officer who lost life during these unfortunate incidents. We wish to extend the same to all citizens especially women and children who have been traumatized by this unfortunate, unacceptable and avoidable incidents.

We are therefore aware of

  • The latest political developments and impasse in Lesotho, and the recent political impasse
  • The decline in security situation resulting and culminating into seizure of key state installations (State House, Key police stations) by the army and subsequent shootings which resulted in the loss of life of the Police Officer
  • The shootings at the residence of the member of the Lesotho Defence Force
  • The escape of the Prime Minister and His other Partner in Coalition Government (Leader of BNP) as well as other citizens
  • The state of anarchy and the state of lawlessness resulting from the shutting down of police services,
  • The shutting down of Judicial, Police and other Public Services

We also follow very closely the exchanges in the public domain between and among parties involved in the impasse. The latest exchange has demonstrated serious deficit in inspiring hope among Basotho.

This state of affairs is not only disturbing but reminiscence of the dark history that the country went through in the past. It calls for the national leadership in all its shades and opinions to exercise maximum restraint and stewardship as the country goes through this difficult time. It is the responsibility of the leadership to show direction and inspire hope to the nation at large. We there therefore appeal to the following sectors of the nation:

To You Political Leadership

We wish to remind you that it is your primary responsibility to protect and defend the well-being of the general public not YOUR own.

To You Disciplined Forces

We wish to remind the disciplined forces that YOUR mandate is the defence of state and public (safety, protection), and in all your dealings should be guided by the public interest not YOUR own. You owe allegiance to the Public Good, State, constitution as well as other laws of the land.

Basotho

Basotho, we appeal to you to remain prayerful, vigilant, united, calm, hopeful and patriotic. Remember that God Almighty has always protected this Nation and he will not abandon US even this time around. “God is on your side. He always hears the cry of the poor and the oppressed and saves them” (Ps. 103: 6).

International Community and Local CSOs

We wish to remind the International Community and Local CSOs (SADC, AU, Commonwealth, etc) that you have the duty to protect the rule of law, democracy, human rights, peace and stability which are currently threatened by the current development in the country.

Media Houses

We wish to appeal to you to stick to your ethical principles by not allowing to be used in aggravating and inciting confusion and violence in the country.

Those in Government

We wish to remind those in government that you have been entrusted with authority to run public affairs, not YOUR own.

In conclusion we call upon the national leadership to consolidate the latest initiatives (New Zealand report, Windhoek declaration, etc.) and convene all national stakeholders to dialogue in search for reforms in order to bring national peace and stability.

Let us remember the words of our Lord Jesus when He said: “I leave you peace, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives, let not your heart be, troubled neither let it be afraid…. (Jh 14:27)

Oh God of peace and Love bless us the People of Lesotho

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life

From the IMBISA Secretariat

Fr Claudio dos Reis (IMBISA, Social Justice) is busy preparing for ob servation of the election in Mozambiqe.

The IMBISA offices have been moved from the main building (88 Broadlands Road) to outbuildings. CAFOD has taken over the main building which was completely renovated.

Fr Richard Menatsi took part in the Plenary Assembly of AMECEA in Lilongwe / Malawi, 16th – 26th July 2014. The theme was “New Evangelization through Tue Conversion and Witnessing to Christian Faith”.

Fr Oskar Wermter SJ (Pastoral Dept) attended the Conference of the Canon Law Society of Southern Africa , Ukuphila / Bluff, Durban SA. He also paid a visit to Mariannhill (Marianhill Media Centre) to arrange for the production of a IMBISA publication on communication and media: “Word and Image”, and St Joseph’s Theological Institute Cedara to prepare for closer links and cooperation in theological research.

There was a week-long training session for bishops of SACBC in the first week of September on the use of media, conducted by journalists from Radio Vatican.

 Theological Reflection and Research

The Debate on Religion and the Intellectual Voice of the Church

 Faith and Secularism in the context of developing countries : A Pastoral Response, by Stuart C Bate OMI, St Joseph’s Theological Institute Cedara,

Missionalia 40 (April/August 2012)

 Fr Stuart C Bate OMI recently addressed the Bishops of Southern Africa (SACBC) when they gathered at Mariannhill for their Plenary Assembly, August 2014, on religion and secularism. IMBISA Documentation (ID) summarizes an earlier article of his on this topic published in Missionalia.

 It is widely assumed that religion is fading away in the modern age because it no longer has any function. “Seminal thinkers of the 19th century all believed that religion would gradually fade in importance and cease to be significant with the advent of industrial society”.

In the 20th century two phenomena became characteristic for “secularism” : the “separation of Church and State, and the growing influence of the scientific world-view on popular consciousness”.

Development will create similar conditions and affect the developing world.

But the predicted fading away of religion has not happened. The hypothesis should be dropped or at least be modified. It is not so much religion as religious authority that is being questioned.

Human security is essential for secularism. Religiosity flourishes where people lack security and seek it in religious practice.

Furthermore, religiosity lives on in cultural traditions. “Distinctive world-views that were originally linked with religious traditions have shaped the cultures of each nation in enduring fashion; today , these distinctive values are transmitted to the citizens even if they never set foot in a church, temple or mosque” (Norris and Inglehart).

[For example: healthcare was largely in the hands of the Church, hospitals were run by religious orders. Today we are nursed by “sisters” who are maybe not religious at all, but they still have the ethos of their medieval colleagues. – Human dignity, human rights are secular values but are undoubtedly of Christian origin; people accept such values without being church members; they consider them values created by secular philosophers in opposition to the Church etc.]

In the meantime the Church has responded to industrialization through its own Catholic Social Doctrine. It is active in workers’ and students movements and engages in education as the access route to modern industrialized society. So the Church has up to a point found its place in this new society.

Religious authority is not repudiated altogether. But it must be modified in line with the Gospel. Today “the authority of religion is most often exercised through persuasion and conviction rather than coercion.” The Church advocates “a set of transcendental moral norms for an acceptable ethic in society that can call people to commitment”.

Even secularist philosophers are concerned about the absence of “transcendental moral norms” in society and admit the need for religion to provide these. Without them authority crumbles and crucial societal values disappear [ resulting in the collapse of basic social structures like marriage and family, and values like respect for human life resulting in random shootings of innocent bystanders, suicides etc].

“These concerns reinforce the urgent need for faith-based tertiary education institutions to participate in the debate about transcendent moral norms in all societies. Modern societies need the “essential contents of their religious traditions which point beyond the merely human realm”. “Faith-based institutes and universities must play a greater role in these debates”.

Book Reviews

The Bridge Builder

A Tribute to Bishop Hans Brenninkmeijer

Edited by Philippe Denis & Kees Keijsper

Cluster Publications, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 2005, 230 pages.

Leadership is much debated at present. The recent Theological Winter School organized by the Jesuit Institute for 2014 was about Leadership; more importantly the new Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, shows almost every day that he wants to lead the Church, not so much as a sovereign prince, but as a caring shepherd showing the way by the example of a simple life, and by consultation and collegial sharing of responsibility.

The Dutch Dominican Bishop of Kroonstad Hans Brenninkmeijer (1977 – 2003) is remembered, among many other things, for his gentle style of leadership as a man of dialogue, through patience, a great ability to listen, friendship and sympathy, always trying to build up rather than tear down. His sense of humour, his famous roaring laughter, and cordial and spontaneous reaching out to people greatly helped him, especially during times of tension, bitternis and open hostility, not only in racially divided South Africa, but even in the Church and Christian communities: he was bishop during the final dark years of “apartheid”, years of violence and torture, of unimaginable cruelty and contempt for human dignity, of mutual suspicion, self-righteousness and verbal aggression.

This is not a biography, but a collection of personal reminiscences by 45 writers: family members, fellow Dominicans – men and women, fellow bishops, priests, sisters, political activists, journalists, catechists, lay co-workers, Catholics mostly, but also a few Christians from other communions, which is necessarily somewhat uneven. He would deserve, like Archbishop Denis Hurley with whom he is sometimes compared, a proper biography. His unique personality as well as the time of struggle he lived through seem to suggest this.

Two contributions struck the reviewer as most revealing. Tefo Phate, a permanent deacon of Kroonstad Diocese, who was also a political activist, wrote about the way his bishop “Thabiso” (his nickname in Sesotho: “the one who brings happiness to others”) supported the ‘struggle’, “He did this quietly, never exposing his actions to the newspapers or on the radio, for he shunned publicity, performing his good deeds in the name of God and never allowing his left hand to know what the right hand was doing.” When the bishop visited his deacon in prison, he was told, “I am thirsting for revenge. If possible I’ll skip the country.” The bishop replied, “Actually you have not done anything wrong. Just pray and cool down. Never lose courage.” The deacon concludes the report, “His words brought immediate relief and my anger evaporated. I felt like a human being again.” (From: Tefo Phate, Thabiso, the Bishop who Visited me in Prison, The Bridge Builder , pp. 143/44).

Bishop Brenninkmejer was as horrified by “apartheid” as his more famous fellow bishop Archbishop Denis Hurley of Durban. But his style of resisting the evil system was different. While Hurley was seen arm in arm with prominent church leaders leading a public protest, Brenninkmejer went about giving witness in a more quiet way (as a foreign missionary he felt more vulnerable and in danger of getting deported).

Archbishop George Daniel preached at the Mass of the Resurrection on 22 July 2003, reflecting on the bishop’s life in the light of the Sermon on the Mount. “It was in imitation of the Lord that Hans Brenninkmejer , who hailed from a wealthy family, took the vow of poverty and retained the spirit of poverty all his life. As a bishop he lived very simply and was at home with the poor, as they were with him. — We all knew Bishop Hans as a gentleman in the true sense of the word….I heard him express his anger over unjust and oppressive laws and those who made them, but his anger was directed not at the person but on the wrong ideas and wrong actions – – Hans had an instinct for justice and he pursued it with all his heart. I do believe that this was behind his concern for education. He wanted to promote good education for everyone, and especially the less privileged. — In imitation of his master, Hand was the good shepherd of Kroonstad. He was the sort of person who would attract penitents, because they knew that they would find mercy in the sacrament of reconciliation ministered by him – – Jesus was pure in heart…there was no place in his life for what is base…..Hans took the vow of chastity as a Dominican , but his whole life could be available to serve God by serving his people. …Because of this he could show affection without making people feel uncomfortable or threatened. – – As a Dominican Hans took the vow of obedience….When he himself was the prior, he saw the need to discern God’s will not only for himself but for the community through taking counsel and through earnest prayer. This stood him in good stead when he was appointed bishop of Kroonstad. The loyalty and affection shown to him …by the diocese, were a sure sign that he was not a despot, lording it over them, but that they saw themselves working in a team under his clear leadership” (see The Bridge Builder, pp. 175 – 77).

Even as bishop he remained a religious, a Dominican. The reviewer remembers how he told me, a Jesuit, with much laughter that in his large extended family “he was the black sheep because he had become a Dominican and not a Jesuit” (his family had produced some distinguished Jesuits. I once had a provincial superior Brenninkmeyer, of the German branch of the clan).

His years as religious superior, soon after Vatican Council II, were years of change which he managed well “with his characteristic good humour and undying optimism”. “What Hans did find very difficult though was the great ‘exodus’….Although Hans was always reticent about his own feelings, I am sure that he was deeply affected by this; and yet at no stage did he let it get him down. He seems to have simply put his trust in God and tried to do what God wanted him to do, namely, to keep us all smiling and hopeful.”

Fr Bonaventura (his religious name) was not a zealot or a party man. Some of the contributors who are clearly from the “progressive” wing of the post-Vatican II Church mention that he was not ‘one of them’, but a man they respected and worked together with well all the same. Not partisan , he was the “bridge builder” within a polarized Church.

There is much understanding and sympathy shown for those who left priesthood, religious life, sometimes even the Church altogether, during the “exodus”, as is characteristic in “progressive” circles. As in this book, so in the Church in general, we still have to come to appreciate the enormity of this ‘loss of blood’ the Church suffered, and still suffers, when priests and religious ‘lose their vocation’. This small book could not tackle this problem, made worse in the years after Bishop Hans’ death through the abuse scandals, but there is a gap in it which calls for more debate and possibly admission of failure.

This tribute to Bishop Brenninkmejer shows him as a man of enlightened leadership. Now that “collegiality” , a promise of Vatican Council II, has become the current watchword in the church, we learn from this little book that the life of this bishop has anticipated what we hope to come true in the Church of the future as a whole. – Reviewed by Fr Oskar Wermter SJ

“Demeaning Human Dignity is like Desecrating the Face of God”

Messages and Messengers of Peace in the Midst of War

Catholic Church Leadership in Peace Building in Africa, by Elias Omondi Opongo SJ, David Kaulemu (editors), Paulines Publications Africa, Nairobi Kenya, 2014, 240 pp.

The sixteen chapters of this book do not just present peace and justice theory, but outstanding practitioners in action. The Church in Africa has not just taken over leadership by assuming symbols of office and authority, but by giving the Church genuine leaders, men and women who made the struggle for peace through justice their own and gave their lives for it. This book challenges all with responsibility to absorb their messages, experience and passion for a continent yet to be fully liberated. Almost all the sixteen authors are African, giving the Church of Africa through this book an authentic voice. It is not just about but by Africa.

Ghana was the first African country to gain its independence. Ethnocentrism was one of its curses. But in Peter Cardinal Dery Ghana had a leader who was “a religious man who transcended all boundaries in the country…treading the very footsteps of Jesus Christ”. As a bishop he “visited conflict areas and wept at the gory scenes he was seeing….One faction in the conflict took exception to Dery’s attempt at reconciliation and wrote him a letter warning that he would be harmed” (Isidore Bonabom SJ). Much later a fellow bishop in the Eastern Congo, Archbishop Christophe Munzihiirwa SJ, was in a similar situation. “This evenhanded treatment of both parties [Tutsi and Hutu] cost the Archbishop dearly….His solitary voice disturbed consciences.” He was assassinated and died a martyr for peace.

Sister Belaynesh Abera (Ethiopia) was really a Medical Missionary and pharmacist, but her healing medicine was, among other things, a guidebook for peace clubs she founded at universities and colleges. It teaches that “non-violence does not mean being passive victims of conflict, completely uninvolved or submissive, but rather finding better alternatives, preferable to violent behaviour” (J T Mboya Oburu SJ).

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was and is a scourge in Uganda and neighbouring countries. Archbishop John Baptist Odama personally involved himself at great risk in peace negotiations between the rebels and the government forces. He spoke in the name of the “grass” (the local people) crushed by the “two elephants fighting” (LRA and army). He insisted against the International Criminal Court that the local people must be involved and be allowed to negotiate for peace in their own way. “Persistence by the ICC to issue arrest warrants before the completion of the peace talks, jeopardized the success of the mediation process.” When mediating between two hostile tribes, traditional reconciliation ceremonies played an important part. A leader said, “On that day we experienced peace and reconciliation and we bent spears as a gesture of an end to war, and today the bent spears are still here as you can see them” (Elias Omondi Opongo SJ).

Peacemakers may be hated by warmongers. “It was Mveng and Ela’s firm stance that in any way to demean human dignity was tantamount to desecrating the face of God, therefore sacrilege. Mveng was assassinated because of his work for justice in his native Cameroon, …Ela was driven out by threats against his life and died in exile in Canada…”writes Fr Laurenti Magesa, in his essay on his friend and colleague Fr John Mary Waliggo.

Waliggo loved his African culture, but did not hesitate to denounce “attitudes oppressive of women in Africa”. They have become “culturally systemic and so very difficult to notice and rectify” and are defended “as our way of life”. Magesa’s essay on Waliggo then adopts the position of feminist theologians and denounces Church and Scripture for being discriminatory against women. This is debatable. African women undoubtedly “have the right and duty to take part in the political and administrative work of society”. But do they go along with a ‘gender ideology’ that does not recognize femininity as a value given by the Creator? The question of “high ministerial positions in the Church” is not a question of power. It is a question of where and how women can best serve their sisters and brothers in the Church. The Church has her own answer we still have to discover fully.

There must be dialogue between Church and secular political culture. This obviously does not mean that the Church simply accepts what the political mainstream takes for granted. The Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office of the South African Bishops’ Conference[1] works on the assumption that there is “separation [between Church and State] and interaction”. The founder of CPLO says, ”We have demonstrated that there is space for intelligent and constructive dialogue between politics and the religious sector, one that can be intellectually rigorous and not religiously sectarian”.

Constitutional issues and questions of political procedures are of great interest. For instance, concern was expressed about “South Africa’s party list proportional representation electoral system that gives far too much power to party leaderships”. In other words, parliamentary candidates are selected by party leaders, not by the people whom they are supposed to represent and are accountable to. Such questions need to be tackled by outsiders, not by political insiders whose interests are at stake. The Church, not being a player in the power game, can be trusted to know the true feelings of the electorate.

If we ask: has the CPLO succeeded in making Catholic morality (e.g. opposition to liberal abortion laws, gay marriage, and political corruption) universally acceptable, the answer is clearly No. Ian Linden observes: rather than being marginalised as a special interest lobby, at least the Church has a message that “is listened to – not necessarily heeded – as the expression of a wider claim to be a universal religion and a moral teacher” (Anthony Egan SJ).

For a church leader to raise his voice in protest on behalf of the downtrodden against strong vested interests takes courage. Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo/Zimbabwe did not seek dialogue, he gave witness uncompromisingly. When he came back from visits to his rural outposts where he met harassed villagers, he used to speak with great passion about their suffering at the hands of government agents. In that role as defender of the oppressed and despised he was utterly convincing. On that we are agreed.

Fr David Harold-Barry SJ, in writing on Archbishop Pius Ncube, admits that “if Archbishop Pius Ncube was at fault it was in the wildness of his words which shook people and enraged government”. He admits also that “I had no intention of touching on the traumatic events which silenced him in July 2007”.

Archbishop Ncube, a good priest and very likeable bishop, tragically went wrong in his heroic venture of battling a ruthless leader. Like Don Quixote fighting the windmills, he was thrown to the ground and flattened by his enemies who exploited his weaknesses without mercy. Which is perhaps a necessary warning: if you want to engage in such a heroic struggle you must be prepared for it (Luke 14: 31).

He was compared to Oscar Romero. He became famous and was invited by admirers to travel to countries overseas. This was a distraction and may have derailed him. A bishop belongs into his diocese. Pope Francis has made his dislike for “airport bishops” plain. Harold-Barry reminds us of the “isolation he felt…he has had to pay a terrible price and must have known that he might have to do so. The strain must have been great”. He got much support from friends, but the “Church, which preaches forgiveness, finds it hard institutionally to welcome home this prodigal son.”

One could look at the tragedy of Pius Ncube also in a different light: the Church did forgive him for his publicly exposed relationship, but to repair the damage, he could not continue as a public figure. He would have been very vulnerable. The Church forgives, the world does not. “He lives a restricted life, confined to a limited role outside his former diocese [as school chaplain]. But he believes that just to be with the people in their burdens and sufferings is part of the service he can continue to render”.

Maybe it is safer for a whole bishops’ conference to speak out rather than mere individuals. You can incarcerate or expel an individual bishop, but not a whole conference. For a long time the churches of Malawi kept silent in the face of tyrannical oppression by the first president, Kamuzu Banda. Finally, in 1992, the pastoral letter “Living our Faith” changed all that. The “very limited participation in public life” (a very mild description of a cruel dictatorship) was no longer tolerable. This one letter which was adopted also by other churches and indeed by the people of Malawi as a whole had a dramatic impact. The one-party state came to an end. The road to democracy was opened (Lawrence M. Mpekansambo).

In Zambia the Catholic Church, in ecumenical partnership with the Christian Council and the Evangelical Fellowship, challenged government again and again over a long period of time. It is a textbook story of the relationship, often quite tense, between Church and State. The transition from a one-party state to a multi-party system was long, full of controversy and painful. A new Constitution was needed. Governments in power wanted to shape the Constitution to serve their own interests and political short-term advantage, the churches wanted a constitution coming from the people and preserving the freedom of the people to select a government of their choice. “The Church made a great effort to guide the process through pastoral letters at the turn of each election……The persistent conflict over elections since 1996 was a matter of great concern for the Church. ….The Catholic Bishops directed Caritas Zambia to adequately prepare itself to monitor the process leading to the 2011 tripartite elections….There was great pressure and harassment from government and the ruling MMD on Caritas Zambia and the Catholic Church in general. The government made all efforts to discredit and interfere with the monitoring process.” It is important to underline that the Church, in Zambia or elsewhere, was not skirmishing with particular political parties so much as “promoting strong and better governance institutions” built on good values that respect human dignity (Samuel Mulafulafu).

Military rule never makes for “better governance”. Nigeria had a bitter legacy of colonial rule, ethnic conflict, and tension between the two main religions, Christianity and Islam. Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto, and former Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops Conference, wrote, Nigeria “has not succeeded in extricating itself from the colonial trap that is suffused with inherited prejudices, and distorted social histories”. Even when civilian governments succeeded military regimes, the past still held society in its iron grip of poverty and unemployment. Wole Soyinka called it a “climate of fear” and terror.

“Both Islam and Christianity have at their core love and respect of neighbours…..but the cultural vehicles that brought them …have turned Nigeria into a space of competition for hegemony…Beneath the problems of mistrust between Christians and Moslems are politicians who are using the instruments of religion to achieve their selfish political and economic goals” (Kukah).

Kukah thinks that the Church has failed to create “frameworks to engage politicians in programmes of training”. As bishop he has “been informing the conscience of the politicians through retreats and intellectual engagements”. “Kukahs contribution to the formation of Nigerian leaders cannot be overemphasized.” He has also been a prolific writer on public affairs. Monitoring elections and condemning government policies is not enough. “The Church, he insists, can do more by properly understanding the history of the country and politics as well as try to be more proactive and not vote, monitor and go to sleep”. He pleads for restorative, not retributive justice. This kind of justice “seeks to restore the humanity of the offended and the offender”. Reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation were the stages of rebuilding the country after the civil war with the Ibo nation in the 1960 and ‘70s.

Africam wisdom is needed to bring reconciliation to Africa. Tolerance, solidarity and forgiveness are said to be ontological to traditional African ethics. It is this worldview that Desmond Tutu appealed to in the height of national healing in South Africa. ….The generosity of victims in forgiving their offenders shows reconciliation as another privileged instance of African people’s understanding of rights as conciliatory rather than adversarial.”

Kukah “has a moral voice recognized beyond the boundaries of Christianity because of his capacity to reach out to all irrespective of one’s tribe or religion…his language has been inclusive and did not [show] the superiority of one religion over the other…the language of tolerance, the recognition of our similarities and respect of our difference.”

This is perhaps the greatest achievement of the Church in Africa today if her voice speaking the obvious truth is accepted as the inclusive voice of all (see the effect of the famous pastoral letter “Living our Faith” in Malawi). (Chikere Aloysius Agbo SJ)

“For peace to be sustainable, it has to start within the family as the basic unity of the society,” is the conviction of Immacolata Nyaga, Kenyan clinical psychologist. People learn justice as working for the common good within the family, more especially a spiritually motivated, praying family. Spirituality and peace-building belong together for this deeply Catholic peace worker, wife and mother. Spirituality relates to healing. “Spirituality and a sense of the sacred, after being banished from medicine, are making a comeback” (J S Levin).

Immacolata responded to the misery of the slums of Nairobi, to the HIV/AIDS crisis, to the needs of pregnant girls tempted to abort, to prostitutes and street children. She has “tried as much as possible to integrate the concept of peace and justice in psychotherapy”.

“In the 2007/08 post elections crisis, patients from certain tribes did not want to be seen or treated by doctors from certain tribes. The doctors and nurses also behaved in the same way….Immacolata tried to convince them that professional ethics must be observed at all times.” Meeting people “who had suffered severe depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder due to the post-election crisis in Kenya, she offered them treatment through psychotherapy.” She started counseling sessions in the slums. She believed in justice giving peace even to an unborn baby in its mother’s womb.

The Nobel Peace prize winner Prof Wangari Maathai, ecologist and peacemaker, witnessed the Mau-Mau rebellion as a young student in a convent school. Massacres by the British left deep traumas in the people. “You cannot forget, you must remember the pain you went [through]”. Wangari Maathai wrote “such traumas have never been addressed. Indeed, there has almost been a desire to deny these atrocities that took place. There is still need for healing, reconciliation and forgiveness”.

She remembers a rich and fruitful country where “hunger was virtually unknown”. But the land was exploited and rendered barren. Wangari mobilized the women in the Green Belt Movement to plant trees. She fought against officials who trusted only “professionals” to do such work. “I don’t think you need a diploma to plant a tree, I told them. Use your woman sense”. It does not need outsiders and technical solutions. It has all to do with good governance. “Good governance is better shaped with the participation of citizens. The involvement of citizens …is not for the privilegd few or educated elite, rather an amalgamation of simple ideas that make a monumental impact. ‘

Famous was her challenge to the Kenyan government when they encroached Uhuru Park to build a highrise building there. Together with other women activists she went on a hunger strike and was beaten unconscious by the police. The women remained unbowed and sought spiritual solace in the nearby All Saints Cathedral. “The power of prayer, courage, resilience and togetherness had prevailed”. Empowering people through faith remained her strategy. Like John and Peter (Acts 3 : 1- 10) she did not want to give alms, but put people on their feet.

Neither Immacolata Nyaga nor Wangari Maathai suffered from the weakness deplored by Cardinal Onaiyekan of Abuja / Nigeria. He is disappointed about the Church’s inability in Nigeria to mobilize Christians to rise and fight against the social evils of corruption and religious fanaticism. And this is not just a Nigerian problem!

“Dealing with Islam is difficult, he admits, because of the prevailing doctrine of vengeance. Yet, a way can always be found to establish a relationship with them”. We have an obligation to engage in interreligious dialogue, even if we have no illusions about our partners. Some politicians maintain that “Boko Haran is not Muslim, the Cardinal affirms the opposite. For him experience shows that indeed it is and living in denial of this fact won’t help tackle the problem.”

Fr Peter-John Pearson, founder-director of the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO), Cape Town, SA, is aware that the project of reconciliation in South Africa is far from complete. He quotes the theologian Mosala who does not think that reconciliation is only about Black and White. It is about the economy and poverty. “Our reconciliation with white people will follow from our reconciliation with our fundamental means of livelihood”.

Transitional Justice poses the question how to move from past oppression to a free and fair and reconciled society. “How for instance would an aggressor reconcile with a dead victim?” There is need for the Church to engage with structures of governance. In other words, we have to talk to leaders whether we like them or not. (Elias Omondi opongo SJ).

This is an exciting and fascinating book about church leadership which we hope all church leaders will read, reflect and act on.

In another edition of the book grammatical errors should be eliminated for the sake of clarity. – oWe

1 By now there are more institutionalized points of contact between Church and Government/Parliament, e.g. in Zimbabwe.

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