Friday 17 February 2023

To the Laos – Message ahead of Lent 2023

Dear People of God

Returning to my office on February 8th after my post-Christmas leave, and going through some of the correspondence on my desk, showed me at what a fast pace the world is moving, with some issues appearing urgent when they came in now overtaken by events.
    I don't usually share personal matters in this space, but please join my intercessors in praying for our son, Nyakallo, who – battling with adjusting to life as an independent adult – misjudged his medical and basic food needs recently to the point where he was detained by police. Thank you for your prayers for travelling mercies when I went to Ukraine just before Christmas. The escalating words of war coming from world leaders in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine is very worrying. The United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, says it is not as if the world is “sleepwalking” into a wider war: “I fear it is doing so with its eyes wide open.” Some fear a possible third world war, which would lead to untold death and suffering, as if there is not more than enough already, from Cabo Delgado to Somalia to Palestine and Yemen. All of this underlines the need for us to be active peace-makers, and constantly to refrain from being carried along by events into supporting death and destruction.
    Towards the end of my holiday break, I started the year with a visit to the United Kingdom, where I spoke at the London Stock Exchange at the launch of a new initiative to reform the mining industry so that it does not harm people and damage the environment. This arises from concern at, for example, the impact of tailings dam failures such as we saw at Jagersfontein in the Free State last year, when one person died, people lost their homes and property and livelihoods were disrupted. In 2019, in Brumadinhno in the eastern part of Brazil, about 270 people died following a collapse of a dam. Tragedies such as these bring home to us the reality of ecological injustice, which is a consequence of the poorest in our communities facing powerful mining companies with deep pockets to pay for litigation to avoid reparation. As we pursue economic justice, it cannot be business as usual for the mining companies which continue to be a big employer of black South Africans.
    Returning to work last week, I gave the concluding remarks at a forum of leading lawyers which discussed how to reform our legal tools to enable the successful investigation and prosecution of crime, especially cases of corruption, and to protect whistle-blowers. I repeated my call for the protection of whistle-blowers in remarks read for me by Dean Michael Weeder of Cape Town at an event in St George's Cathedral, entitled “The Real State of the Nation Address” the day before President Ramaphosa gave his State of the Nation Address. I am glad that in SONA, the president seems to have noted the cry by South Africans of the need to protect whistle-blowers and that key polices will be in place to do so.
    Hunger and desperate poverty are real in South Africa. Our parishes are taking strain but continue to give and enable us to feed the hungry and to preach and live a message of hope. Thank you for your sustained giving, which also enables us to send students to the College of the Transfiguration, ensuring that we have pastors and teachers of faith even in the midst of suffering and global challenges. Please continue to pray for those affected by natural disasters and conflict in Turkiye, Syria and Mozambique at this time.
    Please also pray for the land called holy, for an end to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, and for lasting peace in Palestine and Israel. This Lent, we will be focussing our Bible studies on deepening our understanding of the issues of the Holy Land. Please do join in and engage with the Lenten Bible studies. I know we have different understandings and views on this issue, but let us study together and pray together. The Bible study can be downloaded here [PDF] >>
    Pray too for the Anglican Consultative Council meeting, ACC-18, which is taking place in Ghana at present. The ACC is a Communion-wide consultative body which comprises a lay person, a priest and a bishop from each of the world's Anglican provinces. We are represented at ACC-18 by Senzo Mbhele, the Revd Natalie Simons-Arendse and Bishop Stephen Diseko of Matlosane, Dean of our Province.
    Finally, pray for the Synod of Bishops, which is to be held in person for the first time since before the coronavirus lockdown was imposed in March 2020. We will apprise you about the outcomes in next month’s Ad Laos. In the meantime, “hold fast to what is good”- 1 Thes. 5:21

God bless,

††Thabo Cape Town

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