In his July pastoral letter to the faithful of the Diocese of Mthatha, Bishop Sithembele Siphuka started by aiming his focus on “Reflection on life” with a reminder of the famous saying“An unexamined life is not worth living”. He says as he approaches the 7th decade of his life, bombastically known as the “septuagenarian” age, he thinks more frequently and more deeply about the meaning of life at a personal level.
On that examining note he went on to reflect about “The lesson about leadership from load-shedding” of which he said it is evident that there is a crisis, and this crisis is multifaceted and complex. The Bishop says a leader is there to ensure that when crisis strikes, it is resolved so that the normal operation of the entity he/she leads continues. He asserts that it does not cut it for leaders to cite problems and challenges for lack of electricity without fixing the problem.
To clarity this he says the reason why there is a leader is so that when a problem arises, he/she must solve it. With that clarification therefore, Bishop Sipuka says leadership understood this way, the call for non-performing leaders in the form of Ministers, MECs, directors, CEOs, Mayors, and managers to step down makes sense. For Bishop Sipuka if these leaders do not step down, the call to step down can be rightly extended to the president, who is ultimately in charge.
He extended this leadership reflection onto the Church as well saying this is “True also for the Church”. On the church ground he said people get kept in a leadership position even if indications point to stagnation and a downward spiral in the institution they lead. He cited the Pope Emeritus as an exemplary leader in this regard saying when Pope Benedict XVI realised he was not successful in leading the Church in its challenges, he stepped down.
Bishop Sipuka shifted his focus to “The Enyobeni Tavern tragedy” and on this tragedy he said the tough questions are, “Why did the authorities not monitor the operation of this tavern after granting it a license? Must we assume that all these children had reached a stage where their parents could not stop them from going to shebeens, or the parents did not care? What about us who are surrounded by a growing number of shebeens patronised by young people and children and are doing nothing about it except occasional complaining?”
The bishop’s view with regard to the church is that instead of playing only an ambulance role, coming after the disaster has occurred, the Church also must be proactive and engage to minimise such tragedies if not to end them.
Moving on the liturgical front Bishop Sipuka’s advice is “Let us not drop the ball during ordinary time”. He recalled that last Sunday’s readings, particularly the Gospel, appear to suggest that after the “hype” of the seasons of Lent and Easter, which encouraged people to engage more intensely in our spiritual life, people must avoid dropping the standard because they have come to ordinary time. “We want to follow Jesus, but we still want to hold to our old ways of life. During this period of ordinary time, let us remain steadfast in our Christian commitment,” concluded Bishop Sithembele Sipuka.
Read the full pastoral letter here below.