S AFRICA: Year of Mercy, Time to Heal Racial Division, says Bishops

PRETORIA MARCH 11, 2016 (CISA) – The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) have called on faithful to practice repentance, spiritual healing, and hold hard conversations on racism and racial divisions during this year of mercy.

“In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, as Church in Southern Africa, we commit ourselves to a credible and comprehensive conversation on racism,” the bishops said on March 7 in their pastoral letter titled A Call to Overcome Racism, CNA reported.

“We realize that this is not an easy conversation, one that many of us may prefer to avoid,” they said and further called on “the faithful and all people of goodwill to do all in our power to address the problem of racism in our society and in the Church.”

The bishops stated the importance of acknowledging racism in the Church before, during and after apartheid, plus the strict racial segregation of South Africa which ended in 1994.

“We need to acknowledge the link between race, power and privilege,” they said adding, “We need to redress urgently the economic inequalities present in our society as a result of past racial discriminatory laws and practices; to allay unfounded fears and promotes justice.”

“In humility, as St. Peter confessed, we your pastors prostrate before God and before all who are in pain, ask for forgiveness for our historic complicity with racism in the Church,” they said and encouraged South Africans to address the social trauma resulting from colonialism and apartheid.

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