Friday, 15 November 2019

Archbishop appeals for prayers for refugees after church attack

(Photo: CMM)

Archbishop Thabo today appealed for prayers for asylum seekers and refugees after being attacked by some of those who have taken refuge in Cape Town's Central Methodist Mission (CMM).

“The key is to focus on their plight and how South Africa can be more welcoming,” he said in a comment released after visiting the mission's church on Greenmarket Square.

The Revd Chris Nissen of the South African Human Rights Commission told the Mail & Guardian that some refugees had attacked him, a Congolese pastor and Archbishop Thabo. They had hit the archbishop and “threw bottles at him.”

The archbishop confirmed that he had been hit on the forehead. He told the Mail & Guardian, “We were clobbered... I have a bump on my head, but I’ll be alright...

“If I were to put on my psychologist's hat, I would describe this as termination anxiety. We were delivering the hard truth. Things they didn’t want to hear. So they expressed some level of anger,” he added.

The newspaper's report said the attack followed a reportback on options available to those who had occupied the church, which fell short of what they had been demanding.

The Revd Alan Storey of the CMM said in a report on the mission's website that the group which met the refugees included the Human Rights Commission, the Africa Diaspora Forum, More than Peace, Archbishop Thabo and pastors to the refugee community.

“The hope was to inform everyone of the discussions that had taken place over the last week that had been facilitated by the South African Human Rights Commission as well for me to request that people begin to vacate the Sanctuary.

“The chair of the Human Rights Commission and myself were able to speak to everyone. But when one of the Pastors (known to the refugees) tried to speak – some people refused to allow him to do so and thereafter the Pastor and other members of the above-mentioned group were assaulted.

“A semblance of calm was restored with the help of some refugee leaders and many of the refugees intervening to protect people. Thereafter we were able to get members of the group out of the sanctuary into safety. It is very concerning that three people of this group were injured while everyone else is obviously in shock.

“The whole situation is very sad and troubling, not only because of where it took place or who was hurt, but because any violence anywhere against anymore is self-defeating. Violence does not solve anything. It just causes more hurt and more problems.”

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Archbishop sends prayers and condolences after KZN tornado

To God’s People in the Diocese of Natal, and to Bishop Tsietsi,

The TV coverage of the wreckage left by the tornado in your Diocese has shocked and devastated me. Weather patterns are definitely changing and whether or not we agree that we face a climate crisis, the changes are hitting God’s people, more especially those who haven't the resources to mitigate the severe consequences on their lives.

I reassure you of my prayers and condolences, and those of our whole Church, for the relatives and friends of those who died, for those who were injured, and for those whose property was destroyed. I appeal to our parishioners who were not as badly affected to please assist those who have suffered the most.

Be assured of our love and prayers

God bless

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba condemns anti-semitic attack on German synagogue

Archbishop Thabo today condemned the attack on a synagogue in Halle, which took place on Yom Kippur:

"Yesterday's attack on a synagogue in Halle comes as a triple shock to the conscience, and must be condemned with all the vigour we can muster.

"Firstly, it reflects the deeply disturbing rise of anti-semitism and extremist nationalism to levels unprecedented in recent European history, moreover in a country responsible for the horrors of the Holocaust.

"Secondly the attack is all the more shocking in that it was directed at a place of worship, and thirdly - compounding the evil - it was carried out on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year.

"We grieve for the victims of the attack and pray for the survivors. We also pray for our Jewish sisters and brothers everywhere, for whom centuries of persecution make any such attack anywhere in the world profoundly worrying and distressing."

Thursday, 3 October 2019

An address to Taize pilgrims in Cape Town

(Photo: Ricky Kleinhans)

TaizĂ© Pilgrimage
28 September 2019

Good evening. Bonsoir. Molweni. Guten abend. Dumelang. Boa noite. Goeienaand. Sanbonani. Buena noches. Habari za jioni.

A very warm spring welcome to all of you! Palaeontologists tell us that all human life as we know it started here in the southernmost part of Africa, so welcome home. You are all Africans!

Thank you, young people from across South Africa, from the rest of Africa and from other parts of the world, for coming on this Pilgrimage of Trust and for gracing us with your presence. I am sorry that I could not join you earlier – I have just returned from the three-yearly meeting of my church's legislative body. But you were in good hands.

Thank you to the host families and hosting congregations. Thank you for making us proud with your gifts and skills of hospitality! Julle skrik vir niks! Baie dankie. Enkosi kakhulu.

Thank you to the members of the Taize community – to Brother Alois, Brother Luc and your whole team (to Brothers Norbert, Claudio – I hear you have an angelic voice – to Paolo, Herve, Parfait, Kombo and all the others). Thank you all for your hard work over these last two years.

Thank you for what your community represents and for reminding us that we draw our strength from God's first language, which is silence. I know that these two years during which you have planned this Pilgrimage have not been an easy time for you. But you have laboured on despite the challenges. You therefore deserve a standing ovation.

There is a young man here from the Moravian Church who has given an enormous amount of his time to help organise this. His name is David Daniels. The Moravian Church provided the first Christian missionaries for South Africa and you are living up to that legacy beautifully. Thank you, David, for your hard work.

We also thank those such as Baruti Wilma Jakobsen and Chris Ahrends from South Africa and Mona Okelo from Kenya for their hard work in helping and encouraging the brothers in their work. Asante sana. Thank you very much.

Thank you too to my twin brother, Archbishop Stephen, for your constant support – ke
leboha haholo, Archbishop Stephen – and also a very special thanks to my brother Dr Gustav Claasen of the NG Kerk for your support and wonderful contributions – baie dankie, my broer in Christus. Thank you also to all the other church leaders. And a huge thank you to another very special brother in Christ from the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, who is very close to the Taize community and who brought a group of young people from the UK to this pilgrimage.

Before I say anything more, please allow me to convey through you, our sisters and brothers from other parts of our continent, my profound apologies, and I am sure the profound apologies of other South Africans here, for the violence inflicted in recent times on migrants and refugees from other parts of Africa. We are appalled and ashamed by the actions of those of our compatriots who attacked your compatriots. All of us, including our government, need to adopt new attitudes and new laws so we can truly live the spirit of ubuntu. The church affirms that we are Catholic, in the best and widest sense of that word. We embrace all as Christ embraces all. Let us continue to aspire to that.

I believe that this pilgrimage has begun to re-energize us from below, so helping us South Africans to reimagine the ecumenical movement at the grassroots. I hope that the Church Unity Commission, the South African Council of Churches, the South African Christian Leadership Initiative and other ecumenical structures have taken note of what happened here this week. You, the young people have shown us what unity in Christ really means.

Unity in Christ cannot happen instantly, but is a movement of the Spirit. So we must ask:

  • Will the seeds that have been planted here fall on fertile ground and grow? Or will they fall on hardened hearts?
  • If we can grow them, are we ready to nurture the young plants? Or will our disunity be like weeds that strangle what has been started?
  • And is the church on this continent ready to be the answer to the prayer of Jesus in John 17: “Father, may they be one, even as you and I are one”?

The work of building unity is often approached with anxiety, as an issue of complexity. But what would happen if we rather approached it with simplicity, building friendships and trust, just listening to each other's stories? Can we imagine what might happen?

Please, young people, don't wait for the rest of us. Show us the way as you have always done. Show us what unity in action means. Show us what hope means. Show us what just economic relationships mean. Show us the way on climate justice. Show us that there is no Planet B. Show us that the poor will suffer most when water levels rise. Show us that serving Mammon will only lead to our destruction and that we should speak out on behalf of the trees and the birds and the animals. Ecological destruction is all around us and if we are not careful, we will soon not have enough fish and clean air and clean water. Help us to defend and preserve this.

Young Christian men: you have a special responsibility to stop the violence against women. When God sees the violence being perpetrated on women and girls, then God weeps over God's creation. God has created us all equal: now live that out in your everyday lives. We must, through our lives and our love, make God smile again.

Christian young people: you have a special responsibility to build and strengthen community for other young people. Many of our young people are traumatised and wholesome Christian community is needed for their healing. If we don’t do this in our schools, in our communities and on our campuses, we leave a vacuum which those with evil intentions will fill. We need to strengthen our youth ministries and young people must lead the way.

Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for the hope of the Resurrection! This is a hope that is not here today and gone tomorrow, but it is a permanent hope, which we will celebrate tomorrow. Just when we fear that evil is overwhelming us, God gives us new hope and new joy. Just recently, the Ndlovu youth choir from Limpopo raised our spirits by inspiring America with their story of hope and joy. They did so not representing only South Africa, but the whole of Africa.

We all can and must live that same hope and joy every day. We light candles where we are every day. Don't stop doing that even if you are not acknowledged. God sees your action and God rejoices. Be assured that such small acts will multiply and grow.

Please take our love back to your homes, your families, your friends and your congregations. Please pray for South Africa as we battle the forces that corrupt the vision of Nelson Mandela.

When he was inaugurated as our president, he declared that “never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.” Tonight, let us adapt and repeat those words as our declaration of commitment:

Never, never and never again must our disunity be a stumbling block for others;
Never, never and never again should we suffer corruption and the abuse of power in Africa or elsewhere;
Never, never and never again must one person think of him or herself as more important than others;
Never, never and never again must young people beg us adults to care for creation.

Always live the joy and the hope that Christ has planted in your hearts through the Resurrection. And let me conclude with a prayer we adapted from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu:

God bless our world
Protect our children
Transform our leaders
Heal our communities
Restore our dignity
And give us peace
For Jesus Christ's sake,

God loves you and so do I. God bless you, and travel safely when you return home. 

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Archbishop issues Pastoral Letter to Diocese of Natal after Bishop's resignation

The text of a Pastoral Letter sent after the Synod of Bishops meeting in Benoni last week:

26 September 2019


Resignation of the Rt Revd Dino Gabriel as Bishop of Natal

To the People of God in the Diocese of Natal,

Greetings in the name of our blessed Lord.

I write to you, lay Anglicans and clergy in the Diocese of Natal, in consequence of the sudden resignation of your Bishop, the Right Revd Dino Gabriel, and after a discussion of his decision to resign by the Synod of Bishops on Monday 23 September.

It is my duty to inform you that Bishop Dino has made clear that his decision is irrevocable and that I have accepted it.

In summary, his resignation was precipitated by the consequences of pressures on Diocesan finances. Those pressures do not involve any financial wrongdoing, but rather are the result of an ambitious growth projectory which could not be sustained.

There is a sense in which Bishop Dino's resignation is an unexpected bringing forward of the inevitable, since he was due to retire soon. Nevertheless, I am heartbroken over this development and its implications for the Diocese.

Ever since I was Bishop of Grahamstown, the second oldest diocese in our Church, the Diocese of Natal, as the third oldest, has held a special place in my heart. You have produced many of our best theologians and teachers of theologians, and you continue to be one of the greatest supporters of the College of the Transfiguration and the future of theological education. Your last two bishops have served as Deans of the Province, Bishop Michael Nuttall as “Number to Tutu” and Rubin Phillip to me.

But precisely because of the inherent strengths of your Diocese, I am hopeful for the future, in particular for your capacity to come together, soberly and prayerfully, to reach out to one another across the differences you will experience and to chart the way forward with integrity and compassion.

The Synod of Bishops wants me to assure you of their deep concern and care for all of you. The appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that the Diocese is administered in accordance with the Church's Canons in the interregnum and that the spiritual well-being of the Diocese is attended to.

A detailed plan of pastoral oversight for the Diocese will be developed to ensure that pastoral, liturgical and administrative ministry is exercised with love and care. The Synod of Bishops will also ensure that pastoral and personal care will be provided for Bishop Dino and his family.

It is the Synod of Bishops' sincere prayer and desire that you will find God’s will and one another as you continue to seek resolution to the challenges you are facing as a diocesan family. At a time which is appropriate to meeting those challenges, I look forward to presiding over an Elective Assembly.

May almighty God, in His infinite love and mercy bring peace and wholeness to each one of you, members of God’s family.

Yours in His love and service,

++Thabo Cape Town

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Archbishop responds to Synod debate on ministry to LGBTQI Christians

Responding to debates at this week's meeting of Provincial Synod, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba - who is on record as saying that ministry to the LGBTQ community should be dealt with as a pastoral matter in local communities - gave the following comments:

 “Because the Archbishop’s Commission has sensitised more people to the issue and got the broader church to think and reflect, there has been movement forward since 2016. At least we are now engaging with one another. 

“But the discussion is still painful for everyone, and emotion, prejudice and fear rather than theological substance dominated this year’s deliberations on both sides.

“I am obviously disappointed in this year’s outcome, but take heart that (1) we now have a permanent commission, (2) we have tangible suggestions that we are sending to the faithful, and (3) that we have a year to review the situation. I will continue to soak everyone involved in prayer.” 

A report on the debates -- including the Archbishop's comments in their context -- appears here: