The SACBC Virtual Plenary Session was supposed to have taken placed from the 19th to 22nd January 2021, but due to the untimely death of Archbishop Abel Gabuza, who was buried on the 22nd January, the Plenary was postponed. Now the Plenary runs from the 26th to 29th January.
On the opening day of the Plenary there was a welcome address by the President of the Conference, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, who welcomed and congratulated the bishops who have been appointed to the vacant dioceses also thanking the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Peter Wells for his hard work in facilitating the appointment of bishops. Bishop Sipuka also welcomed the new staff members of Khanya House, SACBC Offices in Pretoria. He conveyed his thoughts and prayers for the country of Mozambique who had to face the weather storms and the ongoing war in the North. He spoke about the impact Covid-19 has had in the life of the Church and life in the country in general. The bishop in the end extended his condolences to President Cyril Ramaphosa for the untimely departure of Mr. Jackson Mthembu. (See attachment below)
The address of Bishop Sipuka was followed by an address from the Apostolic Nuncio (See the attachment below). The Nuncio spoke about various things including the significance of the Encyclicals Fratelli Tutti and Laudato Sii. Archbishop Wells reminded the bishops that they are meant to be bridge builders “reaching out to others creating opportunities for fruitful and engaging encounters.” He emphasised curtained themes touched by Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti. At the end of his address the nuncio took liberty to assure the bishops that the process is still underway for fill the dioceses without bishops. He stated that it is important for the people of God to know that something is being done about the dioceses without bishops. He then said in the next few months an announcement will be made on the appointment of the Bishop of Kimberly. On that same breath, having conveyed his condolences to the Archdiocese of Durban on the passing away of Archbishop Gabuza, he said the process has already begun to find the Archbishop for the Diocese of Durban.
The Associate Secretary General of the Conference also gave his address touching on the concept of the “New Normal” which obviously affected the plans of them church, among those being the Year of the Eucharist and the Year of St. Joseph. He further spoke about the state of Khanya House and the projects that are underway those to come in the future. He also touched the issue of the pastoral plan stating the need to “not belabour the point that the Pastoral plan was lauched and then its implementation was cast adrift by the pandemic.” He wanted to know what needs to be done to adapt the Pastoral Plan to our current situation.
The second day of the Plenary deals with Finance and Seminaries in the morning and in the afternoon it will be sessions on the situation in Zimbabwe, Botswana and eSwatini.