Saturday 31 December 2016

Archbishop Thabo responds to President Zuma's clarification

Archbishop Thabo was asked by The New Age newspaper to comment on President Jacob Zuma's December 27 statement (reproduced below) concerning his remarks early in December on religious leaders commenting on political issues.

The text of the newspapers questions and Archbishop Thabo's answers follow:

Do you find it strange that the Church which was not silent during apartheid is expected to keep quiet now?

I am happy with the welcome the Presidency's clarification that he didn't mean we should not address political issues.

Will the Church keep quiet?

No, the Church will not, especially on ethical issues, inequality, corruption and the need for all to be healed and to be afforded their dignity.

Why should the Church speak out on behalf of the poor?

Speaking out on the welfare of the people is a Gospel imperative. Jesus was someone from the margins. The Church lives, moves and has its being among people. The poor are the wealth of any society and are precious.

Should the Church stay out of politics?

No. the Church must be active in politics, in the issues which concern citizens. We should not be involved in partisan politics or the internal political wrangling in parties. But when issues we are speaking out on - such as corruption - also become the subject of internal debate in a party, we walk a fine line in distinguishing between issues of public debate and internal party matters.

What are your feelings not only about the President, but also the party that he represents and the seeming inability to tame corruption and malfeasance, and the almost insatiable drive to make money?

I'm sad, because our leaders have the privilege and the responsibility, as well as the democratic mandate, to lead all South Africans out of this and to prosper.

What message is being sent out to young people?

That there is no need for hard work, or for courage and confidence in being patriotic and contributing to the good of all.


Statement from the South African Presidency

President Zuma did not appeal to religious leaders to be apolitical

President Jacob Zuma has noted the ongoing commentary on statements he made during the annual Twelve Apostles’ Church in Christ (TACC) International Thanksgiving Day celebrations in Durban on Sunday, 04 December 2016, where he cautioned religious leaders to avoid being drawn into divisive party political squabbles.

The President reiterates his view that religious leaders should avoid becoming embroiled in divisive party political squabbles and that they should ideally strive to be above such and unite all the people in the pursuit of justice, righteousness and the common good.

It is the President's view that it would be helpful if religious leaders rose above the mudslinging so that they could be able to mediate and bring about peace where the need arises.

President Zuma understands, appreciates and commends the role that the faith-based community played in the struggle for liberation which led to the dawn of freedom and democracy in our country. Government also values the role that that the faith based sector continue to play in the reconstruction and development of our country and in promoting national unity.

Issued by: The Presidency, Pretoria

1 comment:

  1. It is difficult for an outsider from the US, as I am, to comment appropriately on political affairs in another country, when we have many of our own unresolved issues concerning justice for those within our country whom our Lord Christ specifically ministered to, but hopefully Christians around the world can recognize that Abp. Thabo is showing Christian leadership in a manner that Christ expects of his Church's servants. I pray that other church leaders worldwide are motivated to do the same - our Lord Christ's example and teachings are rather unequivocal on this point: as in St. Mattthew 25, we are his hands, his body, on this planet. That is what this US Anglican/Episcopalian believes, in any case. Thomas Finlay - St. Stephen's Church - Longview, Washington State USA


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