On the second day of the Pleanary in the morning session there were addresses from the president of the Conference, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka; an address from the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Peter Wells; and report from the secretary general of SACBC, Fr Hugh O’Connor.
SACBC President, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, said the meeting provided the bishops with an opportunity to reflect about the Church and the signs of the time in the world which they are called to discern their message. Further on he noted with some relief also the usual pastoral programmes of the parishes that are gradually resuming, and people recommencing their Sunday Mass attendance, and other activities of the Church.
Bishop Sipuka commended Bishop Jose Louis together with his priests, religious and the laity for their humble yet impactful witness to the painful situation of political unrest in their country, eSwatini.
His address was also an opportunity to speak about the ongoing synod and among other things he said, “There is a constant sottovoce complaint that the themes and concerns from the North, (Europe and America) tend to dominate Synod discussions and that the issues from the South do not receive the desired attention.”
On the situation in South Africa he spoke about the late former president Mr. F.W De Klerk, the achievements and failures of the Constitution of South Africa, the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the role played by the government in managing the Covid-19 situation, and the important role played by the media in exposing the corruption in South Africa.
In his address the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Peter Wells offered some pastoral orientations about what synodality could imply in the life and mission of the local Church. “The synodality of the whole Church requires that everyone who wishes to be heard is heard and can contribute to the discussion,” said the Nuncio. He remarked though that this participation, however, should not be read as an extension of the unique character of episcopal collegiality to the whole People of God. “Instead, it is a call to co-responsibility, unity and participation in the evangelizing mission of the Church as an institution belonging to us: Bishops, Clergy, religious and lay faithful by our shared Baptism,” added the Apostolic Nuncio.
Still on synodality, he also touched on the interaction between the clergy and the laity, “I wish to reiterate that the authority in the Church does not come from the result of a democratic referendum. Consultations in the Church originated from the dynamics of the interrelationship between those members who have the ministerial priesthood, for example the bishops and priests, and those who share the common priesthood, namely, all the baptized faithful.”
On the preparedness of the participants in the synod the Archbishop said an adequate spiritual disposition is needed on the part of all. In practical terms, this preparation means the fruit of study, of faith experience, of one’s own life and that of others. Adding also that “the quality of disposition that synod members should have must necessarily include openness of mind that helps one listen to others, respect for the views of others, a capacity for dialogue, inner freedom to say what one thinks and the intent to foster and encourage the proposals of others.”
The Nuncio also expressed his awareness of the current cultural environment, “Today, we live in a cultural environment that does not always make it easy to have an astute critical capacity. This at times has led to a lack of interest in the ideas and reasons of others. Synodality encourages us to avoid these limitations.” On the role of the spiritual goods of the Church in this synod the representative of the Pope said, “ the liturgy, personal and common prayers are indispensable for all the faithful to be open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit through the synod.”
In the afternoon session of the plenary there was a presentation by Bishop Jose Ponce de Leon of the Diocese of Manzini on the situation in eSwatini.
See the full addresses by the President and the Nuncio below.