(Archbishop of Bloemfontein, South Africa)
I would like to make three short interventions, in my own name, on matters before us in the Synod.
1. First comes a short intervention concerning what is said in n. 64 of the Instrumentum Laboris, where reference is made to "the great diversity of peoples in most African countries". My plea is that in our deliberations we do not forget the many groups in our continent I would refer to as minority groups. Among these are Africans of European descent; groups of mixed descent; and people who have come to Africa as a result of the continent's colonial history. All of us in the course of our ministry have come across these groups. Omitting them completely from our deliberations would leave our presentation incomplete. This is true especially in the field of inculturation.
2. My main intervention concerns issues of Justice and Peace. I am referring to nn. 115-120 of the Instrumentum Laboris especially where crisis situations are concerned. There was a time in our country when our Church together with other Churches was the only credible agency that could and did speak for the voiceless oppressed. After the leaders were freed and could speak for themselves, the Churches withdrew from active involvement. It was not long, however, before the Churches were again called back for assistance. This came about as a result of deadlocks and new conflicts.
The Churches work in the midst of much controversy, both internal and external. On the one hand the Churches cannot remain outside the political field; on the other hand the cannot afford to allow themselves to be seen to be identified with one side in a conflict situation. Various steps were taken by the Church to deal with this challenge. It was not always easy to do so successfully.
The difficulties of the Churches were also of an internal nature. Some groups within the Church, especially our youth, were feeling that the Church should take a more militant stand, claiming that the Church should be prophetic and not be satisfied with being mediators. Unfortunately these people did not always represent the general feeling of the Church as a whole. Ugly situations could come about as a result of these developments.
In our concrete situation of conflict, the Church is challenged to make a special contribution. During this time when we celebrate the powerful intervention of our God who raised the Son from the dead we should tell those who feel themselves in the depth of degradation, the depressed and the angry, that there is a living God who alone can take them out of their misery. The Church has also to tell them, in unequivocal terms, that certain actions and atrocities deserve condemnation in the strongest terms.
3. In conclusion I wish to pay tribute to the good working relationships that we have enjoyed in working with various Churches, both inside and outside the South African Council of Churches. We sincerely hope and pray that serious theological dialogue will help all us grow and in His own good time see His Church and followers becoming one, just as the Father and Christ are one.
We ask the assistance of the prayers of our Blessed Mother who, on the eve of the descent of the Holy Spirit, found herself in the company of the disciples of Christ.
Original text: English