Dear People of God
This month marks the anniversary of significant milestones in the lives of the two living previous archbishops of Cape Town.
Thirty years ago today, September 7, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
was enthroned as Archbishop. As I write, he has been in hospital
receiving treatment for a recurring infection, and his office has
announced that he will undergo a small surgical procedure today to address the root cause of the infection. I visited him upon
my return from overseas at the weekend, and he was in good spirits.
Please keep him, Mrs Leah Tutu, and their family in your prayers.
Also this month, Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane celebrates the
20th anniversary of his becoming Archbishop. It is also 25 years since
his consecration as Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman, and to cap it off
he has celebrated his 75th birthday this year.
Our warm congratulations to Archbishop Njongo, and our thanks to him
for his continued public service in different capacities.
I write this against the background of last month's South African
municipal elections. I am grateful that people went to the polls and
voted in such numbers and with such enthusiasm, so that our democracy
can be said to be both vibrant and legally intact. What
is most encouraging is that South Africa has a legislative framework
which establishes institutions and mechanisms that enable the electoral
process to happen successfully—so much so that although the ruling party
lost political control in major cities, the
outcomes were accepted by all. So we need to compliment our political
role players but especially that framework and those it empowers to keep
our democratic processes operating.
Whether we voted or not, what all of us must now do is to act with the
urgency that is demanded of us to make South Africa work and to make our
nation what God has destined it to be. I say this also against the
backdrop of my short stay in Rwanda recently,
where I attended a meeting of the Council of the Anglican Provinces of
Africa. Leaving the meeting in Kigali, the capital, to visit the city's
memorial to the 1994 genocide, I could not help but be struck by how the
city really does work. There is effective
policing, the place is clean and when you get to a shop, even if stocks
are limited there is a commitment to service. But although the city
works, I had the impression that it was a result of what one might call
an obsession: a desire to run away from the
dreadful past, from the messiness of a system that did not work. That
makes me all the more grateful for how our electoral system mediates
political conflict, and leads me to re-commit myself to making our
country work, and to call upon all our parishioners
to play their part in helping that happen.
Since returning from Kigali, I have been reading all the motions,
measures and reports that will come before Provincial Synod—our Church's
top legislative body—when it meets in September. Reading the reports
from provincial ministries and organisations reminds
me of the humbling privilege I have as Metropolitan to have a
“helicopter” view of all that the Province does. If one looks only only
at the difficulties being experienced by a problematic diocese or
parish, or at the financial challenges we face, one doesn't
appreciate the beauty, the energy and the excitement of what is being
done in our church right across Southern Africa. The Province is busy,
the Province is active and the Province is alive with worship, mission
and service. For that I give thanks to God.
We have resolutions before Synod which may be controversial, one of them
on human sexuality, and we too have legislative mechanisms which can
help us to address such matters successfully. The Canons allow us to go
into Conference, which frees us of the sometimes
stifling rules of debate when we are considering a motion. The Synod's
advisory team has decided that we need to create more time and space
than would normally the available to discuss the motion on human
sexuality, so we will go into Conference for our initial
discussion of that motion. I am hoping that Synod will be a time of
robust and open debate as we confront and work through the issues.
God bless you
†Thabo Cape Town