Monday, June 20, 2011

Feast of the Most Holy Trinity & World Refugee Day

It is the Patronal Festival of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.  The Schola Cantorum produced sensitive and beautiful music for the occasion.  The antiphons were sung to plainsong in Latin, the Kyrie in Setswana, the Agnus Dei  in Isizulu and the rest to English plainchant with some good Anglican hymns that were sung with gusto.  You don't need to be part of the Ordinariate to use good Anglican hymns!  I admit that I am very confused by what is meant by an "Anglican Patrimony"!

Everything else, including the readings, are in English as to use an African language would be patronising, to put it mildly, amongst our polyglot congregation who use English everyday.

World Refugee Day
There are lots of refugees in this country, both political and economic, and unfortunately there seems to be a rising tide of violence directed against foreigners, particularly small business owners.  Not for the first time the SA Catholic Bishops' Conference has issued a statement which I can only applaud.  Many of these foreigners are Catholics and their are a number of Catholic agencies here who work amongst refugees, irrespective of their religion.  Many of these people end up in Johannesburg and become indistinguishable from the "homeless" many of our churches feed on a regular basis.  They are all in need of our prayers.

A Pastoral Letter to the Catholic Community on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity on the welcome, acceptance and care of Refugees in our communities.

A perfect Community to emulate.

On Monday June 20 2011, we celebrate the 10th World Refugee Day, (previously known as Africa Refugee day) whose purpose is to show solidarity with refugees and displaced people. It is a day that not only raises awareness of the plight of refugees, highlights the injustices that the human community has done to its members, but also celebrates the positive contributions of refugee and migrant communities.

On the eve of this important day for our brothers and sisters who have been forcibly displaced, the Catholic Community celebrates the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, a good place to reflect on our attitudes as communities to Refugees.

We celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity today as a community of Christians. It is a celebration of God¡¦s self revelation and of God¡¦s eternal and infinite love for us. Celebrated not long after Easter and immediately after Pentecost, today¡¦s solemnity remembers the perfect Community of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: One God.
We are shown God¡¦s eternal and forgiving love for us in the events of Jesus¡¦ suffering, death, resurrection and ascension, including the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.
As Christians we believe that Jesus revealed God to us, making us know the Father (John 14: 7) who is in Heaven, and giving us the Holy Spirit (John 20: 22). In the Trinity, we have a perfect Community of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in loving relationships with one another and working together to share their love with the world. It is a Community of relationships which all human communities and their relationships should imitate.

As our own community as human beings created in the image of God, we ask ourselves the following questions:

 How is our relationship with one another and with refugees imitating the perfect Community of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?

 How does this community of human beings on earth reveal God¡¦s eternal love to its members?

 Are we challenged as communities to follow the example of the Holy Trinity as a community existing in love and unity for one another and pouring out that love for everyone to experience it?
As a community of Christians, of human beings called to love and serve God and our neighbour, how have we faired? Since the Son came down from heaven to live amongst us, revealing God¡¦s love for us and giving us the Holy Spirit, we as a community of believers ¡V the Church which is Christ¡¦s Body ¡V are called to continue revealing God¡¦s love for human beings.

As refugees and other displaced people continue to experience lack of love and suffer injustices, we implore you to create communities that imitate the Most Holy Trinity, reciprocating love and compassion. The Lord Jesus, who was himself once a refugee, commanded us: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself". "And who is my neighbour?" (Luke 10: 27-30). As Christians we are called to show our love to one another including strangers.

The story of the Good Samaritan is a good example of how we should be treating refugees. Remember that whoever claims to love God whom (s)he cannot see and yet does not love his/her neighbour whom (s)he can see, is a liar (1 John 4: 20).

As the world commemorates World Refugee Day on Monday, 20 June, we your Bishops urge you to support refugees. We urge you as followers of Christ, to oppose the evil of xenophobia threatening to divide the community of human beings. Each person should do whatever he or she can to unite against this wickedness of xenophobia and endeavour to build communities of love.
May we not be found wanting when the Son of Man says these words to us: "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Matthew 25:35).

In Christ,
Bishop Frank Nubuasah SVD
Bishop of the Vicariate of Francistown, Botswana.

Liaison Bishop for the Migrant and Refugee Working Group of the SACBC. 

The political situation in Swaziland is also of concern to the Church.  Cardinal Napier (Durban), Archbishop Tlhagale(Johannesburg, President of the SACBC) Bishops Sandri (Witbank/Emalehleni) and Woods (Durban) recently visited Swaziland's only Catholic Bishop, Bishop Louis S Ndlovu of Manzini and issued the following statement:

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier
Archbishop Buti Tlhagale

A delegation of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, comprising of Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, Bishops Barry Wood and Giuseppe Sandri, recently returned from Swaziland where they had paid a solidarity visit to Bishop Louis S. Ndlovu of Manzini, Swaziland.

The following statement is a result of their visit.

Swaziland is a country in turmoil; a country tearing itself apart from the inside by the actions of an uncaring head of state and a regime that is getting more brutal by the day.

Swaziland is currently under a state of emergency that was imposed on 12th April 1973 when King Sobhuza II usurped all legislative, administrative and judicial powers by royal decree.

By that decree supreme authority was vested solely in the institution of the monarchy and in the person of the king. All political parties and indeed political activities were banned.

It is evident that these powers need to be curtailed since their abuse by those in authority is the primary cause of the current crisis, in which dissenting views meet with brutality of the highest order. Pro-democracy and human rights activists have their home arbitrarily raided; they themselves are arrested, detained and beaten up by security forces, presumably under orders of the king who is the Commander-in-Chief.

Despite having a Constitution that "supposedly" guarantees the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the current constitution simply enshrines the King's 1973 Decree, which has "claw-back" clauses, which in fact deprive citizens of their basic rights - to expression, assembly and association. This makes Swaziland a police state in which political parties remain banned.

Examples of this are the following:

1. The recent quashing of the protest marches in Manzini scheduled for 12th April 2011 in Manzini is a typical example of the high-handedness of the regime. That event led to the most stringent security clampdown in the history of the country.

2. The Human Rights Commission set up (with members appointed by the king) to fulfil the provisions of the Constitution, has since its creation not once attended to any complaints about gross violations of human rights by the state.

3. Two activists, Mathousand Ngubane and Sipho Jele have "mysteriously" died in custody. Inquests were set up in both instances, but the report on Ngubane's death has never been made public. The report on Jele's death raises more questions than answers concerning the circumstances surrounding his arrest and leading to his death.

4. Even the Suppression of Terrorism Act pushed through Parliament in 2008 supposedly as the Swaziland's contribution to the global fight against terrorism has since been used by the government to silence its critics.

Swaziland is currently in the throes of an unprecedented crisis. It has

* the highest HIV AIDS infection rate in the world (26%);

* the lowest life expectancy in the world (32 years);

* an unemployment rate of 40% and rising;

* an extreme poverty rate with 70% of its population living below the poverty line, which is set at under 6 dollars a day.

The "Tinkhundla" system of governance is a breeding place for corruption and greed. Monies intended for alleviating the people's suffering are diverted to support the lavish lifestyle of the monarchy and its cohorts, namely the King, his 13 wives, 30 children, other members of the royal family and hangers-on.

Finally it is not the people who elect the government. Members of Parliament are elected on individual basis so that they owe allegiance to the King, who also appoints the judiciary.

For these reasons urgent actions in needed to redeem Swaziland from this deadly crisis. Therefore the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference proposes that SADC and the AU examine critically and honestly:

a) whether the constitution of Swaziland meets with the requirements of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

b) whether the election process conforms to the SADC Protocol on elections;

We propose further

* that the king lift the State of Emergency by repealing the 1973 Decree;

* that the Constitution be amended to reinstate the full range of human rights;

* that King Mswati III enter into meaningful dialogue with his people in order to facilitate movement towards true democracy his country.

Accordingly we call on all Catholics and people of goodwill in Southern Africa to joins us in praying for meaningful change in Swaziland as the most effective way of expressing solidarity with the People of Swaziland

Issued by:
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier OFM
Archbishop of Durban
Spokesman of SACBC

No comments:

Post a Comment