JOHANNESBURG MARCH 8, 2016(CISA)-Southern Africa Catholic Bishops Conference have called for “candid conversation on racism and its manifestations in order to adequately address racism and racial divisions in South Africa.”
“We realize that this is not an easy conversation, one that many of us may prefer to avoid. Our invitation to such a dialogue may in itself evoke a range of emotions, including self-justification and self-righteous feelings; or, guilt and denial; on the other hand, feelings of anger and sadness,” the bishops said in a pastoral letter signed by Archbishop Stephen Brislin, President of Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference March 8.
The bishops urged the nation on the need to address the issues of social trauma which resulted from the violence of centuries of colonialism and the apartheid.
“We need to dialogue and work together to achieve healing as a nation. We need to acknowledge the link between race, power and privilege,” said the bishops.
The bishops noted that the Church in South Africa would continue to commit to a credible and comprehensive conversation on racism especially during the Jubilee Year of Mercy adding that “This will mean acknowledging the presence of racism in the Church before and during the apartheid era and in these years of democracy.”
The prelates further encouraged open dialogue in all the parishes so as to promote culture of appreciation and tolerance.
“We encourage this open dialogue at the level of our parishes availing parishioners of the opportunity to look at how people can grow in positive appreciation of cultural diversity and how this is expressed in the liturgy and other activities of the parish,” said the bishops.
They urged all parish priests and parishioners to commit themselves to parish campaigns such as prayer campaign or a family prayer and fasting to overcome racism.