Archbishop Makgoba was delivering his Charge to the three-yearly Provincial Synod of the church in Benoni. The synod is his first as Archbishop and Metropolitan of the church.
Opening the synod, the Archbishop said the church was “hugely unrepresentative in relation to gender... Women constitute the majority in our pews, but the reverse is true at every level of leadership, lay and ordained.”
The Anglican Church resolved in 1992 to ordain women as priests, but as yet has not elected a woman as a bishop. Unlike some churches in the worldwide Anglican Communion, no separate decision is needed to admit women as bishops.
Archbishop Makgoba told the synod that, in South Africa, “the roles of men and women alike, of every culture, were distorted by apartheid. We need to develop appropriate spiritualities for us all, for contemporary living – that are also channels of healing for the legacies of our brutalising history.”
Continuing on this theme, the Archbishop added: “I want to name one unmentionable area that we must dare to tackle: the dehumanising effect of conscription on a generation of young men – barely more than boys.
“Many are still wounded from that time, from their time in Namibia and Angola, and need to be able to speak and find healing. Our society makes this almost impossible. But before Jesus there are no taboo subjects.”
Archbishop Makgoba also expressed his solidarity with Anglicans in Swaziland, saying he could not remain silent on the issue of democracy in the country, “where power and wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, and political debate is hardly permitted.”
The Anglican Church in Southern Africa comprises dioceses in Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and the islands of St Helena and Tristan da Cunha.
Referring to divisions in the worldwide Anglican Communion over the position of gays and lesbians in the church, the Archbishop said the church in Southern Africa refused to allow disagreements to split it. He said:
“For us, what has mattered most is: being centred on Christ; agreeing on the central matters of who Jesus is and the salvation he brings; and therefore recognising one another as being united in him, and, in consequence, with each other.
“In consequence, as we have found within the Synod of Bishops, when differences arise, none of us feels called to say to another: ‘I no longer consider you a Christian, a brother in Christ, a member of the body of Christ – I am no longer in communion with you.’”