Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Davos - World Economic Forum

The following press release was issued on 24 January 2012.

Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town to participate in World Economic Forum

The Most Revd Dr. Thabo C Makgoba leaves today to participate in the Annual Meeting 2012 of the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 25-29 January.

This 2012 Annual Meeting will convene under the theme, The Great Transformation: Shaping New Models, ‘whereby leaders return to their core purpose of defining what the future should look like, aligning stakeholders around that vision and inspiring their institutions to realize that vision.’

As part of the WEF programme the Archbishop will be a panellist in the session entitled ‘The Future of Democracy in Africa.’ It will address how established and nascent democracies being reformed and shaped to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

He will also be a discussion leader in the session ‘What will be the major ideological shifts of the 21st century?’ asking what the major ideological shifts of the 21st century might be.

As he prepared to leave South Africa’s beautiful summer for icy Davos, the Archbishop said, “I am once again looking forward to this meeting where faith intersects and interrogates capitalism. My hope is that God's capital will be spread and used especially for all of God’s people, and in this process care will be exercised over the environment. I believe deeply that democracy should not benefit a select few nor be imposed by others, but should be contextual ".

The World Economic Forum describes itself as an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town. Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman on 021-763-1320 (office hours).

For more information about the WEF Annual Meeting see:

Monday, 16 January 2012

Diocese of Swaziland News

The following letter was sent to Bishop Paddy Glover, Dean of the Province, on 16 January. After it follows a corrected version of a press report on my visit to Swaziland that was carried in the Times of Swaziland.

My dear Paddy

I have just returned from the Diocese of Swaziland where I spent a weekend accompanied by Bishops Anthony Mdletshe and Funginkosi Mbhele.

I have had separate meetings with the Diocesan Council, Diocesan Finance Committee, the clergy of the Diocese and the Diocesan Chapter. I have also met with Bishop Mabuza, the auditors and the external partners of the Diocese of Swaziland. On Saturday we ordained two priests and six members of the laity were made deacon. On Sunday Bishop Mbhele, Bishop Mdletshe and I did three Confirmation services.

Bishop Mabuza has resigned and retired. I have appointed the Provost as Vicar-General after consultation with Chapter. I have also asked Bishops Mbhele and Mdletshe to take three months in turn to offer episcopal ministry, beginning on February 1 until the Elective Assembly in July this year. The Diocesan Finance Committee, Vicar-General, and Diocesan Administrator will work on the renumeration of Bishops Mbhele and Mdletshe during this six month period. Mr Rob Rogerson will assist if necessary in drawing up a budget.

The Diocese of Swaziland is in a healthy state in spite of all the challenges it went through. Bishop Mabuza must be congratulated and complimented for his effective leadership. We wish him a happy and blessed retirement.

I will issue a mandate for the Elective Assembly at an appropriate time.

Yours in the service of Christ

+Thabo Cape Town

From The Times of Swaziland ( - Corrected Version

MBABANE – Anglican Church Archbishop Thabo Makgoba was in the country at the All Saints Cathedral Church Hall in Mbabane this weekend. He ordained two priests and six deacons on Saturday.

Archbishop Makgoba is the leader of all Anglican Churches in the Southern African region and is based in South Africa. Some of the notable figures who attended the event included High Court Judge Justice Qinisile Mabuza, Reverend Percy Mngomezulu and Director of Public Prosecutions Mumcy Dlamini.

The Archbishop also announced two South African Bishops who will become overseers of the local church after the retirement of Bishop Meshack Mabuza. The two are Funginkosi Mbhele and Anthony Mdletshe.

The event, which lasted for the whole day, was also attended by close friends and relatives of the new priests. The new priests will be stationed at the various Anglican Churches around the kingdom. After they were ordained, the priests and deacons took canonical vows in which they promised to uphold the values of the gospel, respect the leadership of the church and not discriminate in their ministry. They were congratulated by close family members and some of the congregants. They were, however, strictly warned not to abuse their offices by doing things that would be against the will of God.

Thabo Makgoba is the Archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A Necessary Covenant

The following Press Release was issued on 10 January 2012.

Archbishop of Cape Town's Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury – 'A Necessary Covenant'

The Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba, has written to the Archbishop of Canterbury in response to his Advent Letter to the Primates of the Anglican Communion and Moderators of the United Churches. In his letter, Dr Makgoba reflects on the Anglican Covenant as ‘necessary’ for Anglicans ‘in recalling us to ourselves’. He argues that the Covenant must be considered on the basis of its ability to help Anglicans recover their true vocation within God’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. This includes growing more fully into the life of ‘mutual responsibility and interdependence’ which the 1963 Toronto Congress identified and from which the Communion has since drifted. Recalling how the Communion was able to stand in solidarity with Southern Africa in the past, he sees the Covenant as being an effective vehicle for more fully expressing Anglicanism’s theological, pastoral and missional understandings and callings.

Therefore, he says, it is a mistake to focus too narrowly either on the disagreements around human sexuality, or on seeking legally or structurally based solutions to current Anglican difficulties. The identity of the Communion’s member churches ‘should not principally be conveyed through legal prisms, whether of some form of centralising authority, or of Provinces’ constitutions and canon law which must be “safeguarded” from external “interference”.’ The Covenant also ensures that the Communion cannot ‘rest content with the sort of “autonomous” ecclesial units that implicitly privilege juridical unilateralism over autonomy more rightly understood as the growing organic interdependence that must inevitably mark the living body of Christ’ and so is necessary in taking the Communion beyond the context in which current difficulties could arise and be pursued so acrimoniously.

Though recognising the reality of human fallibility, the Communion should look to ‘the salvific work of Jesus Christ’ and put its trust in him, rather than appearing to seek structural or legal solutions to its difficulties. He sees the Covenant as a means for doing this, since it ‘places God’s vision for God’s Church and God’s world centre-stage; and then invites us to live into this as our ultimate and overriding context and calling.’ The provisions of the Covenant – which neither create new structures nor interfere in Provinces’ life – should be understood, he argues, in terms of ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ (Rom 8:2). Covenanting together does not mean legal restrictions, but instead, says Dr Makgoba, ‘constraining ourselves through the same sort of mutuality of love St Paul had in mind when he wrote “all things are lawful but not all things are beneficial – all things are lawful but not all things build up” (1 Cor 10:23). The Archbishop encourages those who are daunted by the challenge of living together in Christ by noting that ‘St Paul is under no illusions as to how difficult it can be’, in illustrating this by the mutual incomprehension of seeing and hearing within a human body. He also points to Southern Africa’s experience of bridging vast differences in the past and today.

Finally, he encourages those Provinces of the Anglican Communion which have yet to do so, to adopt the Covenant. He says ‘echoing St Paul, we affirm that we cannot say “We have no need of you” (1 Cor 12:21).’ He concludes by urging ‘all of you, as partners covenanting to go forward in newness of life together, are “indispensable” (v.22) to our own ability to grow in faithful obedience to what we believe is God’s vocation for all Anglicans, and ultimately towards the fullness of his vision for his One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town. Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman on 021-763-1320 (office hours)

The full text of Archbishop Makgoba’s letter follows below.

My dear brother in Christ

With love and prayers, I greet you this Epiphany-tide in the name of Christ, made manifest as Lord and Saviour of all.

Reading your Advent letter again, in the quieter period following Christmas, underlined the particular gift that the Communion has the potential to be, as together we share the message that Jesus Christ is truly ‘the Light to all nations’, in whatever troubles the world faces. This was vividly evident in the visit I made with you to Zimbabwe. The capacity to act together – across old divides of colonisers and colonised, and contemporary differences of rich and poor, north and south, through God’s gift of unity to the Communion – gives considerable force to our joint proclamation of Christ as the Light of the World. We cannot put in jeopardy our ability to spread the Gospel in this way. In everything from standing in solidarity with Bishop Chad of Harare and his clergy and people, to contributing effectively to debate on reshaping international economic structures in ways that are more just, we need to do our utmost in ensuring God’s word is effectively expressed in and to his world.

Support during the apartheid era to us in Southern Africa from across the Anglican world demonstrated how great a difference the Communion can make: from the pastoral care such encouragement brought, through to its impact in helping us speak truth to power. Our theological convictions that God had called us to a particular expression of common life within the body of Christ thus bore both pastoral and missional fruit during the struggle years. Enjoying an identity that has dimensions beyond the borders of our Province has continued to empower us to speak courageously and truthfully in all circumstances – for we believe that, as in the past, if any of us are adversely touched in any way, the whole Communion is touched.

Yet such mutuality cannot be taken for granted, and indeed, the way that our disagreements on human sexuality have played out suggests we had already begun to drift from that particular sense of belonging to God and to each other, within the wider body of Christ, which was so strong in Southern Africa’s great time of need. It seems to me that the Covenant is entirely necessary, in recalling us to ourselves. Only in this way can we continue to grow in bearing this rich fruit that comes from living the life which is both God’s gift and God’s calling. This is how we have seen the Covenant, and so the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has taken the first step towards adopting it, with the concluding stage of ratification on the agenda for our next Provincial Synod in 2013).

Conscious of this, I offer these reflections on the Covenant, and its potential – if we are prepared to work wholeheartedly within its framework, trusting God and one another – to help us grow more fully into our calling as faithful Anglicans, faithful Christians, faithful members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. This is the proper context for our discerning of truth, our pursuit of unity, and our understanding of (and, indeed, our disagreeing over) how they relate. It concerns me greatly, therefore, that, from what I read on line and elsewhere, and from the responses I received to the article I wrote for The Living Church last year, too much of the debate around the Covenant seems to have lost sight of this as our true context. There appears to be a too narrowly blinkered focus on questions not primarily directed towards growing as faithful and obedient members together of the body of Christ, of which he is the one true head, with all that this entails.

Arguments that the Covenant is ‘not fit for purpose’ (for example through ‘going too far’ or ‘not going far enough’) are too often predicated upon an inadequate model of ‘being church’ and what it means to live as members of the body of Christ. Implicit, it seems to me, is a diminished view of God’s grace, God’s redemptive power and purposes, and God’s vision and calling upon his people and his Church, and so of Anglicanism’s place within these. Our sense of who we are, and called to become, should not principally be conveyed through legal prisms, whether of some form of centralising authority, or of Provinces’ constitutions and canon law which must be ‘safeguarded’ from external ‘interference’. Nor should we primarily look to structural or legal solutions to our undeniable difficulties or for regulating our relationships.

Scripture reminds us that solving our problems ultimately rests not on our efforts but on the salvific work of Jesus Christ. He is the one who can make the Church faithful and obedient, holy and loving. For he ‘loved the Church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendour, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind – yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish’ (Eph 5:25-7). Do we truly believe and trust in this promise of God for ourselves? Do we truly believe and trust in this promise of God at work in the lives of other Anglicans? Of course we must work with the reality of human failings, but surely we should debate and behave and order our lives on the basis of the overriding sure and certain hope of God’s redemption in Christ.

Seeing the Covenant merely as a product of disagreements over human sexuality, or in terms of whether or not it provides particular solutions to these disagreements, is therefore to miss the fundamental point. As I noted earlier, it seems that, especially in the acrimonious and bitter ways we have often handled our differences, disunity over sexuality was symptomatic of a deeper malaise within our common life. I suspect this reflects a failure to take seriously the commitments to ‘Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ’ made at the 1963 Toronto Congress. We said then ‘our unity in Christ, expressed in our full communion, is the most profound bond among us, in all our political and racial and cultural diversity’ and in consequence, ‘our need is … to understand how God has led us, through the sometimes painful history of our time, to see the gifts of freedom and communion in their great terms, and to live up to them.’ The Congress warned ‘if we are not responsible stewards of what Christ has given us, we will lose even what we have.’ But it appears we have not been responsible, taking one another for granted, being content to drift apart, allowing ourselves to be preoccupied with our own concerns, so that when differences arose we had lost our ability to connect and work through them in love together.

Therefore, to ask if the Covenant is ‘fit for purpose’ should be to ask whether it helps us address the foundational question of growing together in faithful obedience within the body of Christ. And it seems to me that, above all else, the Covenant does indeed do this, in the way it places God’s vision for God’s Church and God’s world centre-stage; and then invites us to live into this as our ultimate and overriding context and calling. It does not create new structures or authorities, nor alters constitutions; and scope for individual action remains considerable (as your letter underlines). But nor will it allow us to rest content with the sort of ‘autonomous’ ecclesial units that implicitly privilege juridical unilateralism over autonomy more rightly understood as the growing organic interdependence that must inevitably mark the living body of Christ. As ‘Covenant’, it propels us towards understanding and expressing its legal provisions in terms of ‘the law of the Spirit* of life in Christ Jesus’ (Rom 8:2); constraining ourselves through the same sort of mutuality of love St Paul had in mind when he wrote ‘all things are lawful but not all things are beneficial – all things are lawful but not all things build up’ (1 Cor 10:23). It thus invites us – invites God’s Spirit – to breathe new and redemptive life into the Communion’s existing frameworks.

Where we are apprehensive about our ability to ‘lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’ (Eph 4:1-2), then it is reassuring to note that St Paul is under no illusions as to how difficult it can be to relate to those who are different within Christ’s body. Members who are otherwise completely mutually incomprehensible (as seeing is to the ear, hearing to the eye – 1 Cor 12:17) can nonetheless hold together, if they can recognise that Christ lives in the other. This is something we learnt in the past in Southern Africa, and continue to experience across vast ethnic, cultural, political and socio-economic differences. More than this, we have found that, even in painful difference, we are better able to discern God’s truth together than apart. All this is why we hold together in ongoing debate across the whole spectrum of views on human sexuality – we do not agree, and our differences are sharp and painful, but we will not turn our backs on brothers and sisters in Christ and instead will keep wrestling together. This is why we are proceeding towards adopting the Covenant.

Finally, this is why we hold in our prayers those Provinces, including the Church of England, who are still considering the Covenant. The Communion, and all it has the potential to be and become, under God, matters. Echoing St Paul, we affirm that we cannot say ‘We have no need of you’ (1 Cor 12:21). Rather, all of you, as partners covenanting to go forward in newness of life together, are ‘indispensable’ (v.22) to our own ability to grow in faithful obedience to what we believe is God’s vocation for all Anglicans, and ultimately towards the fullness of his vision for his One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Yours in the service of Christ

+Thabo Cape Town

To: His Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury; cc: Primates of the Anglican Communion, Moderators of the United Churches

Note: ‘Eyeball-to-Eyeball Communion’, The Living Church, posted 17 June 2011, is available at

Friday, 6 January 2012

To the Laos - To the People of God, Epiphany 2012

Dear People of God

As 2012 begins, let me share some reflections with you, and invite you to join in praying for all that the year ahead may bring us, and the nations to which we belong.

Today, 6 January, Christians celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. It is a wonderful occasion within the Church calendar, which often passes without us truly grasping its glorious message. Also known as the Manifestation of Christ, it marks how Jesus is revealed to the world as the Messiah – that is, God taking human form, as the promised Saviour of all. In the Western tradition, this is associated with the visit of the Magi, the Wise Men, who came from afar bearing gifts to the infant Jesus, acknowledging his kingship beyond the ancient Hebrew people. Older tradition, still observed in the Eastern churches, focusses on Jesus’ baptism as an adult in the river Jordan, at which the voice of God the Father is heard saying ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’, while the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, is seen to rest upon him. Both reflect the fullness of the mystery of the incarnation, which is at the heart of Christmas, whose ’12 days’ we have just celebrated: that God is ‘made flesh’ in Jesus Christ, to give his life to redeem all of creation, and humanity within it

Salvation and redemption are not words we use every day, but actually they do describe God’s ever-present – and very necessary – loving care at work in our world, and in our lives, if we are prepared to accept it. God comes to us because he knows we need help. We need help to ‘do the right thing’, and we need help to rescue the mess we make of our own lives, and the lives of others and of society, when we fail (as we so often, inevitably do) to do the right thing. God also comes to us to encourage and strengthen us when life is hard and we find ourselves battling, surrounding us with his love, his compassion, his tender healing touch wherever we find ourselves hurting and sore. And God also comes to us with hope and promise – to be with us throughout our life’s journey, and to bring us safely to his eternal home, if we trust him and his immeasurable love.

All this is true for us as individuals, in our families, and even across our nations. The best New Year’s resolutions we can make are not those which are about trying to convince ourselves to make more of an effort through our own will power, for we know that, far more often than not, we are likely to fail. Instead, the most important decision we can make is to go forward with our hand in the hand of Jesus Christ, acknowledging that we cannot manage on our own, but that we need his guidance and his help, so that we can discover what is the right way to live, and receive the encouragement we need.

I felt I was experiencing very vividly God’s promises to be ‘with us always, to the end of time’ (Matthew 28:20) when I, with my wife Lungi and children Nyaki and Pabi, were invited to visit Madiba and Mrs Graça Machel, just after Christmas. With generous hospitality, we were treated to not just a warm welcome, but a delicious meal, over which we shared great company. I am glad to say both are in good health, and Madiba’s humour and ready wit are as sharp as ever.

Below I share with you the special prayer written for our visit, which you might also like to use. More than this, I invite you to pray for the nations of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, especially your own – that our leaders too may go forward into the year ahead trusting in God to guide and direct them in the paths that bring abundant life to all. And may I also ask your prayers for other nations around us that are in special need at this time, particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo, following contested election results, and for Zimbabwe, where Anglicans continue to suffer political persecution (you may have seen my press statements on this).

And may Jesus, the living Word made Flesh, who is Emmanuel, God with us, grant you a blessed and holy year ahead, as you follow his call to discipleship.

Yours in the service of Christ

+Thabo Cape Town

Prayer for Madiba

The angel host that appeared to the shepherds sang ‘Glory to God in the Highest’. Lord God, heavenly king, yet born a tiny baby, we too sing your glory as we celebrate your coming as Emmanuel, God with us, our Friend and Saviour and Prince of Peace, in all that life brings our way.

As we give thanks at Christmas for all the rich gifts you shower on our lives, we thank you for the gift of Madiba himself, and all that you have helped him be and do, in his years on earth, and for the health and strength he continues to enjoy.

As we remember how, in Jesus, God was born into a human home, we thank you for the gift of this home, for the loving marriage shared with Graça, or the joys of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, of friends and family with whom we enjoy the love you pour upon us.

As, today, we remember St Stephen, the first Martyr, we thank you that you also inspired Madiba to devote his life to striving for all that is good and true, for all that is right and just, and to be a living sacrifice, and a bright shining example for others to follow.

As we look to the year ahead, we remember the words of Gabriel to Mary, and the Angels to the Shepherds - ‘Do not be afraid!’, and so we trust ourselves to you for all that is ahead, committing ourselves to keep on walking your ways, with our hand in yours, until that day you lead us safely home.

So today we ask your blessing on Madiba, and those he loves, and those who love him: May the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the perseverance of the wise men, the obedience of Mary and Joseph, and the peace of the Christ child be theirs, this Christmas;

And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but upon you, and remain with you always. Amen.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Call for Zimbabwean President to end police persecution of Anglicans

The following press release was issued on 4 January 2012.

The Most Revd Dr. Thabo Makgoba, the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, today called on President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe to put an end to police persecution of the church in Zimbabwe. He was reacting to the action of police in stopping the annual prayer retreat of clergy from the Diocese of Harare.

In a statement issued in Cape Town, Archbishop Makgoba said:

"I deplore the shocking action of the Zimbabwean police on Tuesday in preventing the clergy of the Diocese of Harare from holding their annual prayer retreat at Peterhouse School.

"I call on President Mugabe to ensure that the religious freedom of all Zimbabweans, and especially persecuted Anglicans, is respected, and to instruct the police to allow the churches freedom of assembly and worship.

"We affirm Bishop Chad Gandiya, his clergy and people at this time. As they share in the sufferings of Christ, may they gain strength from the experience and never give in to a cynical and sinister government.

"The forthcoming season of Epiphany speaks of our hope that the incarnate Christ breaks all boundaries, and that He will ultimately break the power of President Mugabe and those of his supporters who carry out these deeds, and bring freedom to Zimbabwe.

"I also call on our ecumenical friends and our partners in the Anglican Communion to ask their governments to put pressure on Zimbabwe to end this persecution."