SACBC Plenary Meeting off to a start

The first plenary of the year opened on Tuesday evening in Saint John Vianney Seminary, Pretoria, with a mass invoking the Holy Spirit. About 30 bishops of South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland were presents at the opening mass presided by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop James Green. Among the bishops, the newly appointed bishop of Witbank, Giuseppe Sandri, MCCJ, who will be ordained on 31 January 2010.

The Conference began its business session with an address by Archbishop James Green on Wednesday morning. He called for the Conference to be guided by prudence.

The Opening Mass of the First  Plenary Meeting of the SACBC for 2010The Department for Ecumenism presented the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus on the reception of former members of the Anglican Communion and discussed its implementation within the Southern African context. A commission of three bishops will be established to continue this deliberation on how structures can be created and assisted.

In the afternoon session, Toni Rowland led the bishops in a discussion on the future and role of the Family Life desk in the conference. The Bishops affirmed the vital importance of this work both at the level of the Conference and at the Diocesan Level. A further discussion on family life is scheduled for later in the plenary session.

The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) meets in Plenary twice a year. Its aim is to review the most important issues facing the Church and the countries the Conference represents and to establish a plan of action.

The same day, the Conference was also greeted by the Turquoise Harmony Institute, a foundation of Moslems from Turkey who focus on interfaith understanding and common action. Based on the teaching of Turkish Islamic Scholar F. Güllen, the Institute works to promote understanding and common action on societal issues.

In his homily, Archbishop Lawrence Henry, retiring Archbishop of Cape Town, spoke of a need for the Church to be more active and prominent in society. He pointed out how the Holy Spirit chose and used a ‘motley crew’ and that the leadership of the Church was not an option but an obligation.