Thursday, 18 June 2015

Archbishop Makgoba welcomes Pope Francis's letter on 'Our Sister, Mother Earth'

People of faith need to focus on the moral and spiritual elements of the crisis brought about by rapid climate change, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town said today in response to Pope Francis's encyclical on the issue.

In a statement issued from Cape Town, the Archbishop said:

“I would like to thank Pope Francis for this historic, ground-breaking letter. I look forward to studying it in more detail.

“Across Africa and in other developing countries, we are already suffering the impacts of climate change, and the people hit hardest by severe droughts or storms are in our most vulnerable communities.

“In our own church province in Southern Africa, the people of Mozambique have recently been hit by floods. In Namibia, drought has forced the livestock industry – upon which seven in 10 Namibians depend for their livelihoods – to declare a state of emergency, and the government is pressing farmers to sell their cattle.

“Our sister churches in the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa have similar stories they can tell. And at a recent consultation of bishops from the most vulnerable parts of the world, we heard of changes to seasons, rising sea levels, the acidification of seawater, depleted fishing grounds and of 'climate refugees' – people displaced by the changes.

“While not discounting the political, economic, social and scientific considerations, as people of faith we need to focus on the moral and spiritual elements of the crisis. The secular and the religious concerns are not mutually exclusive.

“The values of dignity and fairness are at the heart of how we respond to the crisis. How we look after the environment is at its core about how we value our fellow human beings.

“Not only that, it is about how we value the rest of God's creation and treat the resources God has entrusted to us. Pope Francis evokes this beautifully when he cites how St Francis of Assisi communed with all creation, preaching to even the flowers, and in addressing the Lord, how he referred to our planet as 'our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us...'

“I welcome especially the way in which Pope Francis has underlined the attention that has been drawn to what he calls 'the ethical and spiritual roots of environmental problems' by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, requiring 'that we look for solutions not only in technology but in a change of humanity; otherwise we would be dealing merely with symptoms.'

“In drawing attention to the high levels of consumption, greed and wastefulness in our world – which we see both in developed countries and among the wealthy in developing countries – the encyclical makes clear that we need to adopt simpler, more wholesome lifestyles.

“If, in response to the current crisis, we take action commensurate with the problem, it could improve not only our spiritual lives – whether we are materially poor or wealthy – but deliver huge practical benefits for the poorest in developing countries.

“I join Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, when he challenges leaders at the climate talks in Paris in December to show the same inspired moral and ethical leadership.”

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Archbishop Thabo fasts for the climate

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba travelled to Bonn, Germany early in June for United Nations talks held to prepare for the next major international climate conference in Paris in December.

The Archbishop, who chairs the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, attended the talks in his role as a Global Climate Ambassador for the ACT Alliance, an international coalition of more than 140 churches and affiliated organisations working to create positive and sustainable change in the lives of poor and marginalised people.

During the meeting, he fasted for a day. He explains why:

Friday, 5 June 2015

Reflection on Corpus Christi

From the chapel at Bishopscourt, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba reflects on Corpus Christi against the backdrop of a major conference on Ecclesiology and Ethics: The state of ecumenical theology in Africa, and of the 2015 World Economic Forum on Africa.

Readings referred to:
Psalm 116: 11-18
Hebrews 9: 11-15
Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

To the Laos – To the People of God, Pentecost 2015

Dear People of God,

At Pentecost, we celebrate the birth of our Church, marked by the empowering of Jesus’ Apostles by the Holy Spirit. So Pentecost, and the season which follows, give us an opportunity to ask questions about the nature of the Church. Questions such as: What are we as believers supposed to become if we want to witness to the presence and the working of the Holy Spirit? 
On Pentecost Sunday, I worshipped with the congregation of St Monnica's in Midrand, north of Johannesburg, where we used the reading for the day from Ezekiel, in which the prophet is set in a valley that was full of dry bones. I call that passage my conversion passage, because growing up in Alexandra Township I recall vividly how the Revd Sam Buti, the schools chaplain in Alex, linked the image of the dry bones to the frequent gang killings that happened there. In particular, he warned us that one day all of Alex would be a valley of dry and dead bones if we didn’t pluck up the courage to root out the gangs. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Pentecost & Xenophobia

In an audio message recorded for Pentecost, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has linked the celebration of the beginnings of the Church to the creation of a society that is "neither Afrophobic nor xenophobic."

Listen to the message here / Read the continuation of this report below

Speaking against the backdrop of recent attacks by South Africans on migrants from other parts of Africa, the Archbishop likened the diversity of languages spoken at Pentecost, as recorded in Acts, to the languages spoken by migrants in South Africa today. 

He said in the message:

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Graduation Address at the the School of Theology University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee

University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Isaiah 46:3-5; Psalm 27:5-11; Hebrews 10:19-24; John 4:23-26

Graduates and your families, guests, fellow honoree Bishop Skirving, Bishop Howard, Bishop Alexander, Vice-Chancellor McCardell, sisters and brothers in Christ:

Firstly, congratulations to all of you who are graduating, and especially to your families who have prayed for you and supported you in a myriad of other ways.

My warm thanks to you, Bishop Alexander, and the School of Theology, for doing me the honour of asking me to join you on Commencement day. It is a great privilege to come up here on the Cumberland Plateau and to follow in the footsteps of my predecessor but one, Archbishop Tutu, who came here in 1988 to be similarly honoured. I am especially pleased to be able to visit the University of the South, this great institution of the Episcopal Church, because education is one of the top missional priorities in our Province of the Anglican Church.