The Parliamentary Liaison Office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) is the official vehicle for contact and dialogue between the Catholic Church in South Africa on the one hand, and the country’s Parliament and government on the other. It provides an avenue for the Church – as part of civil society – to contribute to debates on issues of public policy, to exert an influence for the common good in areas of political, economic and social concern, and to help shape legislative and policy developments.
The CPLO is housed in the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Cape Town, within a city block of the Houses of Parliament. The present staff complement is eight full time staff members (a Director, who is a priest of the Archdiocese of Cape Town, a Programme Co-ordinator, four Researchers, a Financial Administrator, an Office Administrator) and a part-time Research Co-ordinator.
Organisationally, the CPLO is an extension of the head office of the SACBC in Pretoria and is located in Cape Town as that city is the country’s legislative capital. The office reports to a Bishop designated as the link between it and the conference (presently Bishop Victor Phalana, of the Diocese of Klerksdorp) and accounts for its activities at the biannual plenary meetings of the Bishops’ Conference.
The CPLO provides a documentary information service, consisting of:
- Newsletters (very brief synopses of items of interest and of the activities of the office)
- Responses (short, quick reactions to important events or developments in public policy)
- Briefing Papers (short analyses of topical issues, be they legislative, policy or otherwise)
- Occasional Papers (more in-depth analyses, not restricted to topical issues)
- Research Papers (substantive documents aimed at informing the Church’s agenda on a particular topic)
It also hosts Round-table discussions and seminars, which brings together civil society focus groups and/or Members of Parliament working on the same pieces of legislation or policy.
Director: Fr Peter John Pearson
Research Coordinator: Mike Pothier
Programme Coordinator: Karen Morris