Monday 25 December 2023

Sermon for Midnight Mass, St George's Cathedral

 Sermon for Midnight Eucharist  

Cathedral Church of St George the Martyr

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop of Cape Town

Christmas Eve 2023

Wednesday 20 December 2023

Ad Laos - To the People of God – Christmas 2023

Dear People of God

We celebrate the Advent of the Prince of Peace this year in violent and distressing conditions – war in the Holy Land, Sudan and Ukraine, to name but a few, and tough economic times at home.

The siege of Gaza has led many to call for a “Black Christmas” in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born and which, being on the West Bank of the Jordan River, has in recent weeks experienced an upsurge of conflict and killings associated with the fighting in Gaza.

During our own struggle against oppression, when people were being killed in many of our townships in the 1980s, we also discussed observing a Black Christmas, curtailing our celebrations out of respect for those who were suffering. At that time, we drew a clear distinction between boycotting the secular, profit-making commercial celebration of the season – which was appropriate to the times – and our celebration in church of the birth of our Saviour and Redeemer – which we continued to insist upon.

Nevertheless, the clear distinction we draw as Anglicans between the Season of Advent and the Season of Christmas can help us respond appropriately to the demands of our time. Advent, which we are observing now, is a time of reflection, of contemplation, as we prepare for the coming of our Lord.  So this Advent season, let us focus our prayers, our giving and our concern on those who suffer, whether it is the poorest of the poor in our own communities and country, or those around the world driven from their homes, displaced from their communities, tending to the wounded and mourning the dead.

Then, in Anglican tradition, let us begin the Season of Christmas when it should begin, on Christmas Day, by joyfully celebrating the birth of him who is the hope of the world, more especially in times of darkness and despair.

A blessed, peaceful and very happy Christmas to each and every one of you! 

††Thabo Cape Town

Sunday 17 December 2023

Sermon preached at the Funeral of the Rt Revd Adam Andrease Mallane Taaso

Funeral of the Rt Revd Adam Andrease Mallane Taaso

Diocese of Lesotho

Tsehlanyane, Leribe District: Butha Buthe

Preacher and President

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan of ACSA

16th December 2023

Readings: Isaiah 53: 8 -10; Psalm 23; Romans 8: 31 – 38; Luke 14: 15 – 23

May I speak in the name of God the Father, who by the power of the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from death to life, that we might be called to our eternal home, a place that he has prepared for us with joy, the God whom Bishop Adam so dearly loved.

Your Majesty, your Ministers present, dear sisters and brothers in Christ; dear Mrs Taaso (Me' Mats'epo), your children and grandchildren, your families and friends, dear colleagues and guests from far and near. It is with great sadness that we gather here today to offer our condolences to Me' Mats'epo, your family and the wider Diocese and community on the passing of Ntate Adam, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a brother, an uncle, a colleague, a friend, and a Bishop in God’s church.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Impala Platinum disaster "a profound wound on the heart of our nation"

To all those touched by the heart-wrenching tragedy at Impala Platinum,

In this moment of profound sorrow and uncertainty, I extend my deepest condolences to the families, friends, and communities affected by this devastating incident. The loss of lives in such tragic circumstances is a profound wound on the heart of our nation, and the pain of those left behind is immeasurable.

As we collectively grapple with the aftermath of this tragedy, we hope that the ongoing investigations will be pursued with the utmost urgency and diligence. It is crucial that every effort is made to understand how this tragedy occurred and to ensure that those impacted receive the support they need to navigate through this incredibly difficult time.

In these trying moments, we are reminded that we are our brother's and our sister's keeper. We are called to stand in solidarity with one another, to support and uphold each other, especially in times of hardship and loss. It is a reminder that our destinies are intertwined, and that in supporting others we uplift ourselves.

I want to assure all those affected by this tragedy that you are not alone in your grief. The church offers its unwavering support and prayers. We stand with you, we mourn with you, and we commit to walking alongside you through this valley of shadows.

May the grace and peace that surpasses all understanding be with you all during this time of mourning and reflection. Let us hold fast to each other, find strength in our unity, and trust that through our collective support and prayers, some measure of peace and solace can be found.

With heartfelt prayers,

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop of Cape Town   

Tuesday 21 November 2023

Acceptance Note upon receipt of the AACC Human Rights Award

Acceptance note by Thabo Makgoba

All Africa Conference of Churches

November 20, 2023

The award was made in Abuja, Nigeria, during the 12th General Assembly of the AACC. The citation for the award can be found here >>

To God be the glory! Thank you so much, I am humbled and deeply touched by the affirmation and honour of being the recipient of this prestigious AACC Human Rights Award.

Congratulations to the AACC on your 60th anniversary, on this 12th Assembly and on establishing this award. Thanks to the President, the Secretary General, the Awards Committee in particular and for those who nominated me and interviewed me. I receive this honour and award on behalf of the many whose rights are trampled and the many in our churches across this great continent who work tirelessly to ensure democracy, governance, human rights and the rule of law are upheld.

In one of my responses to the interviewers, I said that “At the heart of the church's advocacy of Democracy, Human Rights, Good Governance and the Rule of Law is our care for God's people, for their welfare, their safety and their inclusion in the kind of economic and social development which will ensure the abundant life which our Saviour promises them.”

For me, my public ministry over the years has centred on carrying out walks of witness, and working within a prophetic theological framework which I call the new struggle.

Walks of witness entail literally walking together with my fellow pastors through places where people live in squalor – amongst the excluded, those on the periphery of society. In the latest example, I joined other church leaders in Johannesburg on a walk of witness to the scene of a devastating building fire which killed more than 70 people. The people in that overcrowded five-storey home lived in a so-called “Mnyama ndawo”, a “dark place”, an abandoned, dilapidated building without running water, electricity or sanitation, where rubbish piled up and rats ran through stagnant water. Many of those affected were migrants from other parts of our continent, drawn to the so-called “City of Gold” by dreams of a better future. Their plight highlighted the sin of xenophobia in South Africa, where foreigners are often forced to live in run-down ghettos because they are not welcome in our communities. The church should be a safe space for all the nations, yet we often find that people of other nations are not welcomed.

Then, in the spirit of the old church struggle against apartheid, we have adopted the concept of the new struggle to call upon political elites to be accountable to voters and, instead of pocketing the wealth of their countries, to govern in the interests of the poorest of the poor. In South Africa, we say that the new struggle is a new struggle for a new era, a new struggle for a new generation, a struggle to regain our moral compass in the face of the corruption that now plagues our country, a struggle to end the economic inequality we inherited from colonialism and apartheid, and a struggle to ensure that the promises of our Constitution are kept. And I am hopeful that if the churches, other religious bodies and civil society join this struggle, we can succeed in turning South Africa around and putting us back on the path on which Nelson Mandela set us.

My concern is not limited to shouting from the rooftops. I also urge those who hold economic power to conduct their business in the interests of the communities in which they work, for example by getting mining houses to build toilets in schools without sanitation.

In a number of cases, my advocacy has concerned situations outside South Africa. Just before last Christmas I visited Ukraine to express our solidarity with that country in the face of an external invasion. In the last few weeks, in my own Diocese of Cape Town, where we also have large Muslim and Jewish communities, we have seen a number of protests over the war in Gaza. I have condemned all violence against civilians, whether it is in Gaza, the West Bank of the Jordan or Israel, and called for a solution in the Holy Land which will bring justice to the Palestinians and security for all who live in the region. I have also advocated boycotts of those who supply arms to the Middle East, including those in the West.

But it is also important that we speak out on issues in other countries on our own continent. Analysts tell us that people are in armed conflict with one another in more than 40 countries in the world, and – as a number of those attending this assembly can tell us – a number of those are in Africa. Right now, as the Global North focuses on conflict in the Middle East, the world is not giving enough attention to Sudan, where fighting between the regular army and the paramilitary RSF is devastating the country. The United Nations tells us that this war has killed more than 9,000 people since April, and has forced more than five-and-a-half million to flee their homes. We have also seen the re-emergence of military coups, especially in West Africa, starting in Mali three years ago, and spreading since to Chad, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger and Gabon. Sadly, some of those countries have been subjected to multiple coups, and even more sadly, we are told that some of the coups are a result of the failure of civilian governments.

To conclude: As pastors concerned for the welfare of God's people, the new struggle, our neighbours far and near, we are constantly challenged to ask: Where is the body of Christ when our sisters and brothers are in pain?

It is my hope that as recipient of this Award, I will continue to play my part, and that the existence of the Award will ensure that we all continue to give a high priority to working to ensure that the God-given rights of all God's children, in Africa and beyond, are respected by governments and other actors in society.

Africa, my home and my future, I thank you.

Friday 17 November 2023

Ad Laos - To the People of God – November 2023

Dear People of God

I write from the Eastern Cape, where amidst the challenges faced by our country and our world, we held a joyous celebration of the 100th anniversary of the building of All Saints Church, Mbokotwana, in the Diocese of Mthatha, a church built to commemorate the martyrs of the same name.

In my sermon, I asked for prayers for the places in the world, more than 40 in all, where people are in armed conflict with another, and especially for Sudan, where 9,000 people have been killed in civil war this year, and for Palestine and Israel. After the service a nun – the Mother Superior at a convent in nearby Tsolo – came up to me and appealed, “Arch, we dare not give in to evil and war, please let's pray without ceasing.” In similar vein, the former Eastern Cape health MEC, Dr Bevan Goqwana, spoke of how fear leads to hate, and that we dare not give up love. Their words, the worship of the congregation, and the example of the Martyrs of Mbokotwana, all helped to reinforce my determination to continue praying and speaking the truth in love as best I can.

In that spirit, I call upon all to pray and work for a solution to the crisis in the Holy Land which will bring justice to the Palestinians and security for all who live in the region. The cries that are coming from Palestinian mothers in Gaza – “I have nothing, I have no hope either, all I know is that I won’t die alone but will die with my family” – are deeply distressing. Are we deaf to the sounds of grenades and blind to how power is being exercised? Are we hearing the cries for life, for the silencing of guns and missiles so they can be turned into ploughshares?

The tensions which the conflict is generating in South Africa – and especially in Cape Town – are worrying, and I appeal for magnanimity and tolerance from everyone who is expressing varied views on the violence in Gaza and the West Bank of the Jordan. In a message to a Palestine solidarity rally read for me last week by Dean Michael Weeder of Cape Town, I said the war crimes in which children, women and men are killed indiscriminately, no matter who commits them, must stop, and stop now, not just for a ceasefire but forever. I also called for hostages to be released and for us all to learn the painful lesson of the last month, which is that war does not resolve human conflict.

So please, help me elevate the call to stop this war, and all war! Even as we go on our knees to pray, we need to boycott those who supply arms to the Middle East, including those in the West who are fuelling this war by providing weapons even as they pursue partisan diplomatic initiatives. Help our church to move beyond calling only for ceasefires in situations of conflict, but to elevate the need for peace anywhere and everywhere war occurs, so that the world will instead focus its energies and its passions on fighting inequality, hunger and poverty.

Meanwhile, in parishes and dioceses across our Province, pastoral work continues. After the service in the Diocese of Mthatha, I travelled to Makhanda to attend to issues at the College of the Transfiguration and for the funeral of a dear former parishioner, Colleen Rippon. There I also interred the ashes of Canon Suzanne Peterson, formerly Sub-Dean of the Cathedral in Grahamstown Diocese and later my Public Policy and Advocacy Officer at Bishopscourt. As this issue is published, I am heading for Nigeria for the 12th General Assembly of the All Africa Conference of Churches, which this year also celebrates its 60th anniversary.

As we enter Advent, may our prayers be of repentance, forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. And as we prepare to celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace, be assured that ultimately we are destined to live in the salaam, the shalom, the peace which our God promises us. 

God bless

††Thabo Cape Town


Tuesday 14 November 2023

Sermon for the Commemoration of the Martyrs of Mbokotwana, All Saints Parish

Diocese Of Mthatha

143rd Commemoration of Martyrs of Mbokotwana and Centenary of All Saints Parish, Mbokotwana

Sunday, 12th November 2023

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:4b–14; Matthew 10: 16-22

Holy Disrupters: Interview on HIV and compassion

From the UNAIDS website:

13 November 2023

Holy Disrupters: Interviews with religious leaders and advocates on HIV and compassion

Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town

UNAIDS speaks to the Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba about his work on HIV and his hopes for the future

What was your experience working on HIV in the early days?

I first started working on HIV in around 1998 when I was a rector in Johannesburg and it was a scary time, I remember the South African television adverts saying ‘AIDS kills’ with a coffin that banged—we were all terrified. Everyone was scared, there was a lot of stigma, parishioners were also dying from fear and lack of knowledge.

"There was an immense fear that life had come to an end…."

Through Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others we knocked on every door and established the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s AIDS programme called ACSA. We hit the ground running but there was an immense fear that life had come to an end….

How has your work changed today?

Today our work has evolved—from fundraising, to incorporating HIV messages in the liturgy, in the prayers and in the readings. Today we make sure we don’t work in silos, we work with the mining companies, with the other churches and we work from an interfaith context—challenging our governments to do the right thing.

Much has happened in recent years and things have changed. There’s a sense of trust that has developed and partnerships now are much easier. As leaders, we have learned to work together, we’ve learned to work together on the ground, but we’ve also learned to work with our international partners. I’m hugely grateful to PEPFAR. Initially there was a degree of suspicion but once we realized, through UNAIDS, that PEPFAR is there to help us check our own resources and to strengthen our resolve to help people – a great deal of trust has been developed.

“There is nothing more pro-life than PEPFAR.”

I pray that PEPFAR will be reauthorized to ensure that the commitments that we have made are realized. There is nothing more pro-life than PEPFAR. Millions of mothers and children have been saved from dying because of PEPFAR.

UNAIDS has also been essential. UNAIDS has showed us how important numbers and record keeping are, how important data is. We have to be systematic, we have to be thorough in our interventions, understanding that evidence-based interventions are critical.

“UNAIDS has showed us how important numbers and record keeping are, how important data is.”

In faith communities you can drown in the tsunami of problems, you throw yourself into your work without really knowing whether the intervention is working. But through praying, partnering with others, looking at the numbers and seeing the impact on people whose viral load has been reduced has been a great experience—we have learned a lot through working with UNAIDS and PEPFAR.

What does the faith community bring to the response to HIV?

It’s the fact that we are there. We are in every corner, even where governments can’t reach with their 4x4’s we have a little church there, we have a mosque there, we see God’s people every Sunday at the very minimum. We marry we bury we baptize, and we do this work not because we want to be paid or we want constituencies, it is our vocation and our calling.

“We marry we bury we baptize…. We are in every corner, even where governments can’t reach with their 4x4’s”

Whether you are a Christian, Muslim, a Jew or a non-believer, you are a child of God and you need healing. We don’t exist for ourselves, we exist in order to show the love and care of God in the communities.

“We smile at you so please smile at us, because together we have made this possible.”

We must ensure that no more children are born with HIV, we must work together to ensure that every child living with HIV has immediate access to treatment and we must ensure that those children will be alive and thrive. That way in 2025 they will come here saying “you have allowed us to live, and we smile at you so please smile at us, because together we have made this possible.”

Sunday 12 November 2023

Archbishop's message to Palestine solidarity march

The text of a message read for Archbishop Thabo Makgoba at a march in solidarity with Palestine in Cape Town on Saturday November 11:

The unspeakable violence we are seeing in the land which three religions call holy is a result of the denial of people's rights and the failure of their leaders to work out a just solution for governing the land which they now occupy. The war crimes in which children, women and men are killed indiscriminately – whether in Gaza, the West Bank or Israel – must stop, and stop now, not just for a ceasefire but forever. Hostages must be released and all parties must learn the painful lesson of the last month, that war does not resolve human conflict.

And much as statements and marches should continue for their moral power, we need to elevate our interventions to stop any nation which supplies weapons to parties in the conflict from doing so. We need to call out the shameful partisanship of Western powers in this conflict, to commend countries which have suspended diplomatic ties with Israel and to call on those countries to review diplomatic ties with countries which are supplying arms. If only the world leaders would invest half as much money and energy into peacemaking as they invest in war, we would have peace. It is time to end violence over the Holy Land. It is time to end Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories along with all of Israel’s unjust policies against Palestinians.

We commit ourselves as a church to praying and working for an end to apartheid in the Holy Land and for a just and sustainable peace. And we will not forget others elsewhere who suffer, such as in Ukraine and in Sudan, where a church was bombed on All Saints Day, and where 9,000 have been killed, five-and-a-half-million have been displaced, almost wiped off the face of the earth.

Sisters and brothers, in spite of the apparent hopelessness of many of the situations we face in the world, we must take assurance from our holy books, that justice will prevail and that ultimately we are destined to live in the salaam, the shalom, the peace which our Creator promises us.

Monday 6 November 2023

Sermon preached at All Saints, Plumstead, Cape Town

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

115th Anniversary Service

All Saints Anglican Church : Plumstead

5th November 2023

Revelations 7: 9-17; Psalm 34: 1-10,22; 1 John 3: 1-3; Matthew 5: 1-12

May I speak in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is an honour and a privilege to have been asked to share with you the Word of God as you celebrate 115 years of service, witness and ministry through God’s love and grace here at All Saints. Many thanks, Archdeacon Mkhuseli Lujabe, your leadership team and to the whole community of All Saints Parish for inviting me. Thank you everyone for your warm welcome. Thank you too to those who worked to prepare for today.

Monday 30 October 2023



The escalating levels of fighting and destruction we have seen in Israel and Palestine since October 7 are fast turning the land we call holy into one of those places in the world where conflict and deep-seated violence is destroying any form of human society based on a sense of the common good and even levels of minimal human decency. The injustices and aggression which characterize the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians tear me apart, forcing me into quiet contemplation of the horrors we are seeing, wanting to cry out for ceasefires and humanitarian corridors, but almost despairing of whether it will make the slightest difference. 

    The rhetoric of the parties to the conflict, demonising their enemies as inhuman, is frightening in its familiarity to South Africans who lived under apartheid. For as our Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard, it gave licence to soldiers on the ground to ignore the professed assurances of humane treatment by their leaders and to commit gross violations of people's human rights. Dehumanising rhetoric leads to crimes against humanity and, in Rwanda, it even led to genocide.

    Just as we condemn Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, and the horrific October 7 attacks on civilians – reminiscent of the pogroms carried out against Jews in the past – so too we condemn the Israeli attacks on Gaza which Amnesty International has documented as unlawful and indiscriminate, leading to mass civilian casualties.

     I stand with the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem in their statement that: “We unequivocally condemn any acts that target civilians, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, or faith. Such actions go against the fundamental principles of humanity and the teachings of Christ, who implored us to 'love your neighbour as yourself' (Mark 12:31)."

     Together with the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Dr Hosam Naoum, I call for:

  • An immediate cessation of violence; and

  • The establishment of humanitarian corridors into Gaza to facilitate the provision of food, water, medical supplies and electricity to civilian infrastructure.

    I also call for the unconditional release of hostages and stand with the church leaders in Jerusalem as they appeal for sincere dialogue aimed at finding lasting solutions that promote justice, peace, and reconciliation for all the people of the Holy Land. The occupation of the West Bank of the Jordan has to be ended and the Palestinians given the right of self-determination there and in Gaza. Equally, Israelis need to be able to live in peace and security. 

    Finally, the international community needs to take responsibility for its role in fuelling the conflict with its weapons exports to the Middle East. Any nation which arms a party to the conflict, whether directly or indirectly, implicitly makes this war its war too. I reiterate the appeal by church leaders in Jerusalem:

    “We call upon the international community to redouble its efforts to mediate a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land, based on equal rights for all and on international legitimacy.”

The Most Revd Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop of Cape Town

Sunday 29 October 2023

“Growing in Christ” - Address to the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia

“Growing in Christ”
Address to the Convention of
The Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town
Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa

October 27, 2023

Bishop Matthew,
Delegates and Office-holders of the Convention,
Your Excellency, the Mayor of Martinsburg
Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

    I bring you warm greetings from your sisters and brothers in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa where we're moving into summer after the coldest winter we have experienced in a very long time. On Lungi and my behalf, thank you, Bishop and Mrs Cowden, your staff and your teams for your great hospitality. Thank you Revd Tim, Karen and Nonhla for driving us, and Tim, especially for the time we spent together seeing some of the countryside. Thank you all so much for your ministry of welcome and inclusion. For me, the real keynote of my time with you has been your welcome and hospitality, the Bishop's sermons and homilies and the joy of being part of your Diocesan Convention.

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Ad Laos - To the People of God – October 2023

 Dear People of God

Since I last wrote to you, the world has been busy and I have been busy too with the work of the Lord, trying in the midst of a punishing travel schedule to keep focussed on the Lord of the work.

After the September meeting of the Synod of Bishops, I left Provincial Standing Committee early so Lungi and I could travel to the Vatican to attend the consistory at which Pope Francis created 21 new cardinals, including my Catholic counterpart in Cape Town, Cardinal Stephen Brislin. It was a spiritually uplifting service, as were his first Mass as cardinal in St Stephen’s Chapel in the Vatican Gardens and the ecumenical prayers for the opening of the church’s worldwide Synod of Bishops. We also enjoyed worship, and the opening of an exhibition at the Anglican Centre in Rome by Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury.

From Rome, I returned home to preach at this year's Anglicans Ablaze conference in Johannesburg, which as always is a time of blessing and joy. Now led by the Revd Bruce Woolley as director, Growing the Church, which stages these very successful conferences, has since welcomed Bishop Dalcy Dlamini of Eswatini, appointed by the Synod of Bishops as its new Liaison Bishop. During the same weekend, we held a glorious service in the Diocese of Christ the King, where we consecrated Bishop Mkhuseli Sobantwana as their new bishop. Congratulations to both Bishop Dalcy and Bishop Mkhuseli.

Then it was back to Europe for a “Mining and Faith Day of Reflection”, a 10-year-old initiative I have been part of which creates safe spaces for courageous conversations to discuss how mining can best serve the common good and to commit to practical action. The event comprised faith leaders from across the world, also including Ghana, Brazil and Zambia, who met with leaders from some of the world's largest mining companies. It was good to connect there again within the space of a week with Cardinal Brislin and Archbishop Welby.

As we prayed and shared fellowship together, in St Peter’s in Rome and Westminster Abbey and the Charter House Chapel in London, the sadness and hurt of the violence in many parts of our world intruded on us, especially when the true horror of the killings and abductions perpetrated by Hamas on Israeli civilians began to emerge. In my own moments of prayer, I could not help but think of the first century killing of Jews in Rome, of pogroms down the ages in Europe and genocide in Germany.

Thirteen years ago, at a United Nations meeting in Morocco convened to discuss Africa’s stance on Palestine, I appealed for faith communities outside the region to draw on their various religious traditions to help find a just, sustainable and lasting peace in the Holy Land. In the last few days, I have prayed over the situation created when Britain was given a mandate to rule Palestine after World War I, and then gave 55 percent of Palestinian land to Israel after the Holocaust of World War II.

Just as we need sensible land reform in South Africa – something I told the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church a few days ago – we need to find a solution which brings justice, safety and freedom for all in the land we call holy. The occupation of the West Bank of the Jordan has to be ended and the Palestinians given the right of self-determination, but the horrific attacks on Israelis by Hamas will intensify the conflict, not help to resolve it. Equally, Israelis need to be able to live in peace and security, but neither will the air strikes which bring horrifying death and destruction to civilians in Gaza achieve that end.

Let us continue to pray for those caught up in all places of conflict, also thinking especially of Ukraine. The five biggest exporters of armaments in the world are the United States, Russia, China, Germany and France. Let us pray that they will promote diplomacy instead of peddling weapons of death and destruction. As we approach the Season of Advent, I ask that we turn our prayers to all victims of war, for those without food, water, warmth and shelter, and for those who have had to bury their loved ones.

Closer to home, we urge our leaders at various levels of government to intensify efforts to resolve our transport crisis, especially the passenger rail service. In the Western Cape, the collapse of much of the commuter railway system is a scandal which hits workers and the poor hardest.

In the church, the graduating class at the College of the Transfiguration deserves special mention this year. They are a unique class, who began their formation and studies as Covid-19 struck and faced all the challenges associated with it. Congratulations to them all. Congratulations also to Mama Leah Tutu, whose 90th birthday we celebrated with a special service in the Cathedral in Cape Town on October 14th.

We will soon be focussing on the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence – may this focus not be drowned out by global war.

Finally, may you be still and know that God in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is in each and every situation. Our hope is founded on Him.

God bless

††Thabo Cape Town

Thursday 19 October 2023

2023 Algemene Sinode van die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk


Address to the 2023 Algemene Sinode van die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk




Algemene Sekretaris,

Addisionele lede van die Moderamen,

Geagte Afgevaardigdes,

Broers en susters,

Ek groet julle in die heilige naam van onse Here en Verlosser, Jesus Christus: Goeie Dag!

Baie dankie vir die uitnodiging wat oorspronklik deur my vriend, Dominee Nelis, uitgereik is; ek en my kerk waardeer die baie en dit is 'n besondere groot voorreg om hier te wees. Ek is net jammer dat ek nie persoonlik saam met julle kan wees nie. Soos ek vir die Sinode Wes Kaapland vroeër in die jaar gese het, alhoewel die nuwe tegnologie ons help om meer verpligtinge in ons skedules in te pas, kan dit nie persoonlike kontak tussen ons vervang nie.

As 'n mens die geskiedenis van ons twee kerke inagneem, is my teenwoordigheid hier as 'n verteenwoordiger van die Anglikaanse Kerk miskien 'n historiese gebeurtenis. In die vroeë twintigste eeu het baie mense die Anglikaanse Kerk as die kerk van die Britse "establishment" in Suid Afrika gesien; later het hulle die NG Kerk as "the National Party at prayer" gesien. Nou beklee nie een van ons daardie posisies nie, en ek waag dit om te sê dat dit ons in staat stel om die Evangelie baie meer effektief te verkondig.

Dit is ook belangrik dat ek hier staan as President van die Suid-Afrikaanse Raad van Kerke. Vyf-en-viertig jaar gelede het wyle Biskop Desmond Tutu, destyds die Algemene Sekretaris van die Raad, en wyle Dr Frans O'Brien Geldenhuys, die direkteur van ekumeniese sake van die NG Kerk, 'n gesprek begin in baie moeilike omstandighede. Ek hou daarvan om te dink hulle sou opgewonde wees om die uiteindelike resultate van hul toenadering te sien.

Before I continue, please allow me to speak briefly of the situation in the land we call holy, the place where Jesus was born, nurtured, crucified and raised, and the place which Judaism and Islam also call holy. We all agonise over what is happening there, shocked and disturbed at the levels of hatred we see, where Palestinians are oppressed in ways we once experienced here and where Israeli civilians are brutally attacked and killed in scenes reminiscent of the anti-Jewish pogroms of Europe in the Middle Ages.

Last week the Anglican Church sent to our parishes a prayer for the Holy Land, in which we asked God to grant the people of Palestine and Israel – and I quote from the prayer – we asked God to grant them:

Wise leadership,

Gentle hearts, and

A new beloved community, embodying

love, truth, justice, peace, forgiveness and reconciliation.

Last Saturday we celebrated the 90th birthday of Mama Leah Tutu, and I told them that I am sure that at this moment, ninety-nine of every one hundred Palestinians and Israelis would say that anyone who believes that God will grant us that wish of a new beloved community is crazy. But we in South Africa have shown the world that it is not crazy to envisage a time when, in that beautiful biblical phrase, common to both the Jewish and Christian scriptures, “The wolf shall live with the lamb,” and “the leopard shall lie down with the kid”. (Is. 11: 6) It might be hard for us to imagine today, but just as it was possible for us in South Africa to overcome the hatreds and bitterness of the past, it is possible for Israelis and Palestinians to do the same, and all people of faith need to work and pray tirelessly to that end.

Turning back to South Africa, ek hoop die afvaardiging van Wes-Kaapland sal my vergewe as ek hier – en ook later – verwys na wat ek 'n paar maande gelede aan hul Sinode gesê het. I read that passage in Chapter 28 of Matthew's Gospel, which tells us how, on that first Easter, after Mary Magdalene and the other Mary had found Jesus's grave to be empty, an angel appeared to them and said: “Do not be afraid... he has been raised from the dead.” The women then left the grave, and hurried to tell the disciples the Good News. In one translation, it says that they left the tomb “met vrees en groot blydskap”, but in the translation I preferred, it says, “Hulle het toe haastig van die graf af weggegaan, bang maar baie bly...”

I told the Western Cape Synod that as we contrast what is happening in our beloved country today with the joyful message of Easter, we too can feel, “Bang, maar baie bly” – alhoewel ons is bly vir die opstanding van ons Here en Verlosser, Jesus Christus, ons is ook bang vir die toekoms van ons land.

And indeed, there are many reasons to be afraid for the future of our land. Although we have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights which are the envy of the world, the promises of our Constitution have not been fulfilled. We are a country scarred by the most glaring inequality experienced anywhere in the world, the gap between the rich at one end of the spectrum and the poor at the other end being wider than in any other country. We are mired in the mud of corruption. Services we built for our people have collapsed in some areas and money budgetted for new services and infrastructure is too often stolen, misdirected or inefficiently spent. Too many public servants have forgotten they are servants of the public.

Recently I have joined other religious leaders in what we call “Walks of Witness” to areas in which people are suffering because of government failures. I first went to the site of the gas explosion in the Johannesburg city centre. A few weeks later, I was at building, also in the Joburg city centre, where nearly 80 people died in a terrible fire. Black South Africans like me who grew up in Joburg under apartheid knew that building, number 80 Albert Street, as the Johannesburg pass office, where, at the thump of a stamp in your “dompas”, you were either allowed to stay in the city, or were endorsed out to try to eke out a living in your rural Bantusan. To see one kind of suffering in that building replaced by another kind of suffering under democracy made me want to weep.

So we face crises on every side, almost too many to count. But we should remember that church leaders warned us that this might happen. Back in the early years of democracy, Desmond Tutu said: “Even a freely-elected democratic government is still made up of frail, vulnerable human beings who may or may not succumb to the blandishments of power.” Our Oom Bey, Dr Beyers Naude, alerted us to the danger of complacency in 1996, when he said: “People tend to say that now that we have a new government, now that we have a new Constitution, now that we have solved our political problems, for the time being, there is no prophetic role for the Church at the moment. I think such a perception is a very serious mistake.”

Back in the 1990s, we avoided what could have been a bloody war, the likes of which we now fear seeing in the Middle East. That was due to the efforts of many South Africans, with Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk of course playing the central role, but the churches also played an important role, both at congregational level and through leaders like Dr Johan Heyns. Like Moses and the children of Israel in that great story of the exodus, we liberated ourselves and escaped the bondage of Egypt. But now we have to make sure we don't spend the next 40 years wandering in the wilderness. The church has an important role to play if we are to reach the promised land.

We need to take the warnings of Desmond Tutu and Beyers Naude to heart. We still have a prophetic role to play, and as people of faith we need to work out, here and now, how best to mobilise our energy, our courage, our imagination, our skills and our political will, and channel them into a coordinated effort to support those in our society who are committed to fulfilling the promises of the Constitution. We need to work together to answer the cries of the poor, to complete tasks half-done, and to respond to new obstacles that have emerged.

Returning to my message to the Western Cape Synod, let us consider again the response of the women at the empty grave that first Easter morning. Despite their conflicting emotions of grief and joy, despite their confusion and fear as they tried to take on board the meaning of what they had seen and heard, they summoned up the courage to move forward. Faced with the might of the religious and political establishments which had crucified our Lord, they were not intimidated. They faced down their fears, and went out bravely to proclaim the Good News of the Risen Christ.

As the Christian churches of South Africa, we need to summon up the courage shown by those women, summon up the courage displayed by Desmond Tutu, Beyers Naude, and Johan Heyns, and take the lead in setting an example of moral courage to our people and our political and community leaders. As a nation, we face probably the biggest challenges of the democratic era. But just as the disciples on Lake Galilee were reassured by Jesus in the middle of a terrifying storm, we too can be reassured by his words to them: “It is I, don’t be afraid.” He will be with us, strengthening our resolve.

Many of you may know that since the failures of the Zuma administration in South Africa, I have been repeatedly calling on all South Africans to join what I call the New Struggle, a new struggle for a new era, a new struggle for a new generation, a struggle to regain our moral compass, a struggle to end economic inequality, and a struggle to ensure that the promises of our Constituion are kept. And I am hopeful that if the churches, other religious bodies and civil society join this struggle, we can succeed in turning South Africa around and putting us back on the path on which Nelson Mandela set us.

For if we compare ourselves to many parts of the world, and especially to regions such as West Africa, we come to this struggle with advantages that others don't enjoy. We have a strong and independent civil society, we have an independent media, we have term limits for our presidents and, very important, we have a democratically-elected Parliament.

That is why I have been using whatever influence I have to urge all South Africans, and especially young South Africans who have never voted before, to register to vote in next year's elections. As I have said often this year, I understand why many, many young South Africans, both white and black, are disillusioned with politics. The behaviour of our politicians discourages them from joining the political process and they can't see a way of making a difference in public life. But if they register to vote, then go out and vote in their numbers, they can and will bring about change.

And a number of us, including former President Mbeki and the SACC General Secretary, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, are concerned that white South Africans – and especially the Afrikaner community – are becoming alienated from our national life. It is very important that you exercise your rights to speak out, to join debates on our future and to organise politically if we are to secure our future. Don't be silent because of concern you will be called a racist; every single one of us, black and white, has the same rights under our Constitution, and we all need to exercise them if our democracy is to truly reflect the concerns and wishes of all our people.

I am sure that many of your members are concerned about land reform. As I told the Western Cape Synod, we need sensible policies of land reform which will not prejudice our economy. The government's land reform programme is clearly failing, and my own belief is that we need to introduce Gospel values into the debate around it: sharing, reconciliation, healing and taking care of our neighbours.

A fully-developed policy of redistribution needs both to take into account that there is more demand for urban than for rural land, and to provide an economic model for developing rural land, including education and practical help for those who want to work the land. We should decentralise the process by allowing people to work out local solutions appropriate to local situations, and it should be a tool for real transformation, to address the inequality of opportunity and the high rate of unemployment from which we suffer.

In summary, as I said in the Western Cape, sensible land reform policies can find compromises which both protect our economy and meet the most urgent needs of those who want to farm the land and produce food for our people.

I conclude by urging you to claim the place in our society which our Constitution guarantees you, namely one of critical participation in our democracy. Jesus tells us in John's Gospel (10:10): “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” It is my prayer that as we walk together into the future, we will build a South Africa in which all will have life, and have it abundantly.

God bless you, and God bless the deliberations of this Synod. 


Archbishop Thabo Makgoba 

Monday 16 October 2023

Archbishop's comment on violence in Israel and Palestine

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has condemned the violence seen in Israeli and Gaza in the last week.

He was asked by the newspaper, Rapport, on his response to "the violent attacks on Israel by Hamas" and "Israel's violent retaliation in Gaza".

The Archbishop said the Church's position was reflected by the prayer he issued last week: A Special Prayer for Palestine & Israel

He added: "I condemn all violence, whether the horrific attacks on Israelis which are reminiscent of the European pogroms of the past, or the indiscriminate bombing of Palestinian civilians. Both are contraventions of international humanitarian law."

Link to the Rapport article, which mainly concerned the Dutch Reformed Church's forthcoming General Synod:

Thursday 28 September 2023

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba's statement on the Church's resolution on Israel/Palestine

 Archbishop Thabo Makgoba issued the following statement on the decision by Provincial Standing Committee to declare Israel an apartheid state. The PSC resolutions on Israel/Palestine will be found on the church's website >>


As people of faith who are distressed by the pain of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza – and who long for security and a just peace for both Palestine and Israel – we can no longer ignore the realities on the ground. We are opposed not to the Jewish people, but to the policies of Israelis' governments, which are becoming ever more extreme.

For Christians, the Holy Land is the place where Jesus was born, nurtured, crucified and raised. Our hearts ache for our Christian brothers and sisters in Palestine, whose numbers include Anglicans but are rapidly declining. People of all faiths in South Africa have both a deep understanding of what it is to live under oppression, as well as experience of how to confront and overcome unjust rule by peaceful means. When black South Africans who have lived under apartheid visit Israel, the parallels to apartheid are impossible to ignore. If we stand by and keep quiet, we will be complicit in the continuing oppression of the Palestinians.

If we are to celebrate peace for Palestinians and security for the Israelis in in our time, we need to pray and work for the land we call holy, for an end to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and for full recognition of the Palestinians' inalienable right to self-determination.

We yearn for peace and the wholeness of God to be made manifest in Palestine, in Israel and among their neighbouring countries. I pray the prayer we adopted at the last meeting of the Provincial Synod, the ruling body of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa:

Lord God,

Bless the people of the Middle East;

Protect their vulnerable children;

Transform their divided leaders;

Heal their wounded communities,

Restore their human dignity,

and give them everlasting peace. AMEN.

Friday 22 September 2023

At UN, Archbishop Makgoba urges G20 to boost spending on combatting HIV/Aids among children

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has called on the G20 group of nations to boost their spending on combatting HIV and Aids among the world's children.

Speaking on the sidelines of United Nations meetings in New York, he said the coronavirus and war in Europe had taken attention away from the plight of children infected by HIV and Aids.

“Right now, the main focus in relations between the world's most powerful nations on the one hand, and the countries of Africa on the other, is on that which is negative: on military interventions, on the export of weapons and mercenaries to Africa, and on the economic exploitation of our raw materials,” he said.

“If the economic powers of the world wish to improve their image in Africa, they could do no better than boosting their aid in the health arena. Specifically, the United States should reauthorize PEPFAR, and their European and Asian counterparts in the G20 group should follow their example.”

PEPFAR is the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, an initiative launched in 2003. Since then, the American government has spent $100 billion on its global HIV/AIDS response. The US Congress currently faces a vote on whether to continue the programme.

Excerpts from Archbishop Makgoba's address on Thursday follow:

“In an era when world attention has been distracted by Covid, and then by war in Europe, keeping a focus on ending the scourge of HIV/Aids is of critical importance. Especially tragic is the way in which the coronavirus pandemic and international tensions have taken attention away from the plight of children in this health crisis...

“Right now, the main focus in relations between the world's most powerful nations on the one hand, and the countries of Africa on the other, is on that which is negative: on military interventions, on the export of weapons and mercenaries to Africa, and on the economic exploitation of our raw materials.

“When President George W Bush introduced PEPFAR, with bipartisan support in Congress, he promoted the image of Americans as caring and compassionate people, people who saved millions of lives in Africa. No American programme has saved more lives of mothers and babies than PEPFAR. There is nothing more pro-life than PEPFAR.

“But that image of the United States now threatens to be replaced by one in which you present yourselves as primarily a military power, only interested in Africa as a battleground in your fight against international terrorism.

“But you and your partners in the G20 nations in Europe and Asia can turn this around. If the economic powers of the world wish to improve their image in Africa, they could do no better than boosting their aid in the health arena. Specifically, the United States should reauthorize PEPFAR, and their European and Asian counterparts in the G20 group should follow their example.”

The full text of the address can be found here:

(This is the text of a news release issued by the church.)

Read more here:

UNAIDS, the Governments of Botswana and the United States of America, together with the European Commission have joined global partners to urge world leaders to get on the path that ends AIDS. This, they say, will also accelerate progress to reach many other of the Sustainable Development Goals. [UNAIDS photo] 

Thursday 21 September 2023

“Prioritizing Children in the HIV Response”

 Prioritizing Children in the HIV Response”

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Communities of Faith Breakfast: Building Partnerships for a One-Community Response to HIV

Thursday, 21 September 2023, 7:45 am

My warm thanks to UNAIDS, PEPFAR and your faith community partners for the invitation to join you. In an era when world attention has been distracted by Covid, and then by war in Europe, keeping a focus on ending the scourge of HIV/Aids is of critical importance.

Especially tragic is the way in which the coronavirus pandemic and international tensions have taken attention away from the plight of children in this health crisis.

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Celebrating Global HIV Progress to End AIDS and Advance the SDGs

 “Celebrating Global HIV Progress to End AIDS and Advance the SDGs”

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

UNGA high-level event

Wednesday September 20, 2023

Your Excellencies, dignitaries and friends in the fight against HIV and Aids, my respectful greetings and greatful thanks to all those Presidents, ministers and global leaders, who have accepted the invitation to be here. Your faith and your  commitment to end HIV by 2030 are good news. Your leadership is exactly the kind of commitment that God expects of each of us. Blessings.

Saturday 16 September 2023

Homily preached at the funeral of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi OSC

 The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa

Homily for the funeral of

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi OSC

Diocese of Zululand

September 16, 2023

May I speak in the name of God, who is Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Amen.

Members of the Royal Family,

Members of the Buthelezi family,

Your Excellency, Mr President,

Your Excellencies, Presidents Obasanjo, Mbeki, Motlanthe and Zuma,

Madame Premier,

Ministers, MECs and Mayors,

KwaZulu/Natal and national Church leaders, including Bishop Vikinduku Mculwane of Zululand,

Members of the amaZulu nation,

Fellow South Africans,