“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.” [Is 58:6-8].
Welcome to all of you to the August 2018 Plenary Session. The recollection we had, starting last night, on the Holy Father’s Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, Rejoice and be Glad, has set the scene for our discussions. The universal call to holiness, with the Beatitudes as the foundation, reminds us of who we are as Church and what we are called to be.
Apart from our usual business, we will also be dealing with economic transformation during this plenary, as well as land reform in the light of the discussion for a change to the Constitution. And of course the new Troika will be elected.
Apologies have been made by Bishop Kevin Dowling who recently had major surgery – we wish him a speedy recovery; Bishop Frank Nubuasah had difficulty in obtaining a visa and will not be able to attend; Bishop Ponce de Leon will be arriving on Thursday due to a Diocesan issue that he had to attend to, and Bishop Sithembele Sipuka will also arrive on Thursday as the funeral of Fr Mandondo, who was killed in a car accident, was held today.
In particular I wish to welcome Fr John Atkinson representing the Diocese of Oudsthoorn. Congratulations on your election as Diocesan Administrator and please be assured of our support and prayers for you. I also welcome Fr Andrew Makgetla representing the Diocese of Gaborone who has come in the place of Bishop Nubuasah,.
I also welcome Fr Phuthi Makgabo, a priest of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg, who is doing the 2nd year of his licentiate in Institutional Social Communication at the University of Holy Cross, Rome. He has requested to do part of his internship by attending this plenary session and will be present for most of the open sessions.
It is with great regret that we heard of the resignation of Bishop Frank de Gouveia, the third bishop to resign in recent times following Bishop Michael Wustenberg and Bishop Valentine Seane. We know that Bishop Frank has had health issues to deal with and we wish him, too, strength and a speedy recovery.
On behalf of the bishops I offer condolences to Bishop José Ponce de Leon on the death of his mother, to Cardinal Napier on the death of Fr Manny d’Passo, who will be buried tomorrow, to Bishop Sithembele on the death of Fr Madondo, to Bishop Risi and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate on the death of Fr Phumlani Ndlovu OMI and to Bishop Jwara and the Servites on the loss of Fr Mafanisa Mthembu OSM.