Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Our Holy Father has called on the universal Church to fast and pray for the healing and consolation of those who have been sexually abused. I, therefore request that our Diocese take part in the triduum from 2nd – 4th December 2016.
Please see Pastoral Letter from Archbishop Stephen Brislin (below) as well as the document prepared by the Liturgy Commission; “Suggestions for the Triduum Prayer for the Victims of Sexual Abuse prepared by the Liturgy Commission”. (Click here for Triduum Prayer document)
Yours Sincerely in Christ.
Bishop Vincent Zungu OFM
“When my people humble themselves—the ones who are called by my name—and pray, seek me, and turn away from their evil practices, I myself will listen from heaven, I will pardon their sins, and I will restore their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14)
To the Clergy, Religious and Faithful
Brothers and Sisters,
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, called on the universal Church to fast and pray for the healing and consolation of those who have been sexually abused, especially women, children and vulnerable people. In response to this call we ask you, brothers and sisters, to be part of the triduum arranged in our Conference area and join in prayer for this cause and for an end to abuse wherever it occurs, whether in the Church, in the family and elsewhere in society.
We have placed our response within the international sixteen days of activism to be in solidarity with many others who have the same concerns and to make our own contribution as the Church to the efforts made within society to end this scourge which brings so much pain and humiliation to so many vulnerable people and as a witness to our common desire to eradicate any form of abuse from our society.
We ask that we unite in observing three days of prayer, one of which will be a day of fasting. This will begin with Friday evening, 2 December, and conclude with the celebration of the Mass for the Second Sunday of Advent, 4 December.
We, your Bishops, acknowledge our own failures at times in adequately dealing with issues of sexual abuse especially when we have failed to listen to the cry of those abused within our own church structures and our failure to empathise with their pain.
We want to work with all structures in society and especially with our priests, church personnel and church workers in creating a safe environment for children and vulnerable people and in meeting the demands of justice in redressing the crimes and failures of the past regarding sexual abuse.
We ask forgiveness for ourselves and for our clergy for having not done enough in recognising the physical, emotional and psychological pain and trauma which many victims of sexual abuse have suffered at the hands of family members, members of society at large and within our own church structures.
We commit ourselves to following the provisions in our own church protocols for the investigation of sexual abuse within our church structures and adherence to the law of the land when crimes have been committed.
We call upon all the members of the Church, in whatever circumstance, to be part of this triduum of prayer and observe a day of fasting:
• Asking God for forgiveness whenever we have been complicit through silence in the abuse in any form of another;
• Seeking forgiveness from one another when we have neglected to defend and protect the vulnerable, especially women and children;
• Praying for the healing of victims and survivors of sexual abuse;
• Asking for forgiveness for those guilty of abuse and working together for a just response and remedy of these situations;
• Committing ourselves to work pro-actively for the safeguarding of children and the protection of women.
It is our prayer together with you, dearly Beloved, that God hear us and through the Holy Spirit, renew us in living the ways of Jesus Christ, heal the broken hearted, and send us out to sin no more.
Archbishop of Cape Town
President of the SACBC
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Whenever I visit different parish communities to confer the sacrament of Confirmation I am always inspired by the singing of this beautiful verse of Psalm 103: “Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth”.
The Holy Spirit is certainly always at work in the life of our entire Diocese and in the Catholic Church under the wise guidance of our Holy Father Pope Francis. He gives life to every living creature, sustains our beloved Mother Earth and keeps the whole universe in motion.
In the same breath, the face of the local Church, that is, our Diocese is changing rapidly and experiencing progressive renewal, rejuvenation and transformation. However, we are all called to be part and parcel of this process of change, although it could sometimes be painful and spark some uneasiness and resistance on our part.
In this letter, I wish to commend our priests who have taken new appointments, present new missionaries to you and say farewell to Fr. John Pullokkaran who returned back to India on Monday the 10th of October after many years of ministry and service in the Diocese of Port Elizabeth.
The Catholic French Philosopher Jacques Maritain believes that ‘gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy’. I entirely concur with him, especially after the 28th Sunday of the Year C, when we listened to the cleansing of ten lepers and only one came back, praising God in a loud voice and thanked Jesus – and he was a Samaritan (Lk 17: 15 – 16). Besides physical healing he was also healed spiritually and filled with tremendous joy when Jesus said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has saved you” (v19).
A handful of our priests have had to take new appointments, especially our new missionaries. I am very grateful for their spirit of openness, trust, collaboration with the leadership of the Diocese, their commitment to the Faithful for whom they have been called by God and received the gift of ordination and to whom they have been sent to serve after the example of Christ. They have been very generous with themselves, putting the pastoral needs of the Diocese before their own personal tastes, preferences and needs.
I highly commend our parishioners who are extremely welcoming and hospitable to all of them. They have made them feel at home. I thank all the parish communities that have experienced changes in one way or another for their welcome, love and generosity to all our missionaries. They truly represent the faith, vitality, youth, joy and the beautiful face of the Catholic Church: “Family of God in Africa”.
It is always the Good news of Joy that is forever fresh and reassuring to hear that Jesus “summoned his disciples, appointed twelve apostles to be with him and to be sent ahead of him to preach the Gospel” (Mk 3: 14). He “sent them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits” (Mk 6: 7). I sympathise with many priests who have always lived alone, due to the shortage of priestly vocations, especially the elderly. They have left their natural families, friends, sometimes professions, wealth and many opportunities in order to follow Christ and serve the People of God. May God, according to the promise of Jesus, reward them a hundred fold for everything – and above all with everlasting life.
After the Provincial Chapter in 2014, the Leadership of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, otherwise, known as the Redemptorists indicated that they would like to establish a permanent presence in the Diocese. In dialogue with the Bishop, they expressed the desire that they would like to have a team of two priests who shall be committed to full time pastoral ministry in the Diocese and another two who shall be committed to itinerant preaching of missions according to the charism of their Founder St. Alphonsus Liguori.
In collaboration with the leadership of the Diocese we are looking at some logistics in terms of a suitable residence while their mission team is already taking shape. In light of this, I would like to cordially welcome Fr. Sizwe Zungu C.S.s.R who arrived recently to join the Redemptorists Mission Team and Community. May his ministry in our Diocese be meaningful, fulfilling and fruitful.
When I took up residence in the Diocese in 2014, I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting the married couple, Dino and Roberta together with the full team of the lay movement of the Neo-Catechumenal Way. It happened at the appropriate time when the whole Church was celebrating the Synod on Family and Married Life. They requested to come to the Diocese and get involved in the mission, new evangelization and life of the local Church.
At the request of the Diocesan Council of Priests’, they presented themselves at the Annual Plenary of the Clergy in January this year, 2016.
It was subsequently decided that those priests and parishes that are interested to know more about the Neo-Catechumenal Way and want to use their services in their endeavour of parish renewal can establish contact and invite them.
I am very pleased to announce that the Missionary Team of the Neo-Catechumenal Way has arrived in the Diocese. It is composed of Fr. Francisco Marco, otherwise known as ‘Kiko’, Br Joseph Malama Chimfwembe, who has successfully finished seminary studies and is on internship regarding pastoral ministry and the married couple Mr. Andrea and Mrs Erica Parato and family. These are people of deep faith and commitment. They serve as a living sign and witness of the Church that is missionary by its very nature. They are very passionate about their relationship with God and want to share that with Catholic families and with all people of goodwill. Fr. Kiko has also generously offered to work as a “supply priest” should the need arise. I wish them a joyful, fulfilling and fruitful ministry in our Diocese.
I extend my sincere gratitude to Fr. John Pullokkaran CMI, a Religious priest and missionary who has been in the Diocese of Port Elizabeth for nearly 20 years. He visited here for the first time in 1999 as Vicar Provincial of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate to see first-hand the pastoral possibilities that existed, in preparation for his Congregation. In all the parishes where he was assigned by the Bishop he worked very hard creating vibrant Church communities that are self-supporting, nourishing our people with the Word of God and the Eucharist, preparing them for Sacraments, visiting them in their homes, taking care of the sick, comforting the bereaved and burying their loved ones who have died. His priestly ministry was characterised by love and compassion.
On Monday the 10th of October 2016 Fr. John Pullokkaran had to leave the Diocese and return to India indefinitely due to ill health that has accompanied his ministry in the last year or so.
I thank the East London Deanery and St Patrick’s parish leadership for preparing a farewell supper for him at such short notice. It was a wonderful tribute to Fr. John to see the scores of parishioners, past and present who came to bid him farewell at the Airport in East London. Some came from as far away as King Williams Town where he was affectionately known as “King John”. I truly wish him a peaceful, fulfilling, meaningful and joyful retirement back home. May God grant him good health so that one day he can come back to us, if that is His will.
In conclusion, we commend to our Merciful God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Fr. Xolisile Kondlo, as well as the Assumption and Dominican Sisters who passed away and most recently, Mrs Kholeka Mana, Fr. Thembalethu’s mother and all our departed relatives, friends and benefactors. May they all rest in peace!
Yours in Christ.
Mary is honoured as the Chief Patron of our Diocese of Port Elizabeth. In accordance with the official liturgical Pastoral Guide it is therefore elevated to a solemnity (big feast) for the local church and celebrated on the Sunday that occurs on 4th February or between the 4th and 10th February each year.