jacob zuma muyexe faillingBishop Vincent Zungu OFM, of the Diocese of Port Elizabeth, has joined other Christion leaders from the Nelson Mandela Bay area in signing an Open Letter to President Zuma, calling on him to step aside.

Here is the text of the Letter:

Dear Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, Msholozi Nxamalala, son of Nobhekisisa Zuma, president of the ANC and of the Republic of South Africa

We, as leaders of the majority of Christian churches within the city of Nelson Mandela Bay, ask you to hear our request in the name of God who commissioned us authority to prophesy and speak for the poor and oppressed of our land and people and who wills kingdoms and Kings to exist and removes them of His will if a better life for all regardless is left undone

We cannot continue on this path we are walking. Our people are poor and our people are hurting. We, as a nation, have become distracted from the work that needs doing by the actions of those we elected to serve us. Our attention is focused on what is bad about our country, not what is good.

The time has come to focus on the country we want. This is not to forget the country we were or to ignore the country we are, but to embrace the country we can be. To do this we must move forward.

We knew that the road out of colonialism, apartheid and poverty would be a tough one; a road paved with the sacrifices of many, including your own. Much has been achieved but we are still faced with challenges that are giants before us. Too much is at stake for us to falter on that journey.

Those who lead us; those who serve us in parliament, must be people who have our trust. Our government’s priority should be the needs of the people, not the needs of the few. We need leadership that has our confidence and that inspires us. We need a leader who unites us.

It is clear that we must follow a different path and that this requires a different person to lead us. We agree with those who stood on the steps of the Constitutional Court on the 6th April. We are not confused; we do not misunderstand; we are clear that the constitution must rule us all, with no exception.

We will, over the next few months, be engaging with our congregants in the lead-up to the 3rd August – to hear their voices; to be sure their needs are our focus. We will also seek to engage with those in elected office to ensure that ordinary citizens again become government’s priority.

This is not about undermining a political party. Many of us were born into the ANC and will remain so until we die. This is about the future we want for South Africa, as well as who best to lead us.

We ask that you act in the spirit and faith this young nation was founded on. We ask that you do the difficult but honourable thing and step aside as our country’s president. We are all human. Each of us will face the moment when our time has come to do something different. There are fewer challenges as tough. We ask that you lead us in that moment.

We pray that God may guide you in His wisdom, that God will bless our land and save our people through the granting to us of credible God-fearing leaders!

Signed: Bishop Lunga ka Siboto, Bishop Vincent Zungu, Bishop Bethlehem Nopece, Bishop Andile Mbete, Apostle Neville Goldman, Pastor Patrick Douglas-Henry and Archdeacon Zwelidumile Tom

On behalf of the Church Leadership Group of Nelson Mandela Bay

nuncioPope Francis has appointed Msgr. Peter Bryan Wells, the senior American official in the Roman Curia, as Nuncio to South Africa and Botswana.

The Vatican announced this on Feb. 9, adding that the Holy Father has at the same time elevated Msgr. Wells to the titular see of Marcianopolis, with the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-designate is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the United States.

For the past six and a half years, Archbishop-designate Wells has been Assessor for the General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, a position equivalent to deputy chief of staff, which handles most Church affairs apart from relations with states. He has served in this key role since July 16, 2009, first under Archbishop (now cardinal) Fernando Filoni and since May 2011 under Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu who as ‘Substitute’ to the Secretariat of State,(or chief of staff) is the third ranking official in the Vatican.

In actual fact, Wells has worked in the Vatican since 2002 in the First Section of the Secretariat of State, and was head of its Anglophone desk from 2006-09. A polyglot, he also speaks Italian, Spanish and German fluently.

For almost 14 years, he has given loyal, professional and dedicated service to three popes—John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. During his time in the Vatican his work entailed, among other things, contributing to events surrounding the death and funeral of John Paul II (2005), the election that same year of Benedict XVI and his resignation in 2013, and the subsequent election of Francis.

As assessor under Benedict XVI, Archbishop-designate Wells was involved in the day-to-day operations of the Vatican, and made a significant contribution to the church during the turbulent period of the Vatileaks’ scandal as the First Section in which he worked handled among its many briefs also those relating to security and communications In this context, he is recognized as the driving force behind the decision to bring a communications advisor—Greg Burke—into the Secretariat of State at that particularly difficult time.

Astute and hardworking, Archbishop-designate Wells has always kept a low-profile and is credited with exercising a strong, positive influence in developing the Vatican’s response to the sexual abuse of minors by priests’ scandal, when the issue emerged in Germany and other countries in those years.

Now 52, Archbishop-designate Wells was born in Tulsa, Okla., the eldest of five children. After studying at St. Meinrad Seminary College in Indiana where he gained a degree in Letters, he was sent to the North American College, Rome, to study theology. There he obtained degrees in theology: a baccalureate from the Jesuit-run Gregorian University and, in 1992, a licentiate from the John Paul II Institute for studies on Marriage and the Family at the Lateran University.

Ordained priest in 1991 for the diocese of Tulsa, on his return from Rome he served as assistant pastor at Holy Family cathedral in Tulsa, private secretary to the bishop, and vicar for religious education in the diocese.

He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See on July 1, 1999, after studying at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy where he studied international law and papal diplomacy. In that period too he gained a licentiate and doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University, in 1998 and 1999 respectively. His first diplomatic assignment was to the Nunciature in Nigeria, but in 2002 he was recalled to Rome to work in the Vatican.

He will now move to South Africa and reside in Pretoria. At the same time, he will serve as the papal nuncio to Botswana.

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