STATEMENT FROM THE JUSTICE & PEACE DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE ON GENDER VIOLENCE IN SOUTH AFRICA
The last couple of weeks have seen the media inundated with cases of abuse of women and children in South Africa. Again in the last few days, the news has announced the discovery of a body of a murdered eight year old child. It has also announced a day that the National Dept of Education set aside for remembering in schools the many women who have been, and are being, raped in South Africa.
The Justice & Peace Department of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, like many other organisations – schools, media, civic, business and NGO’s – condemns these many ongoing instances of violence, rape, abuse and brutality. This serious situation calls for action from all people of good will.
Numerous awareness campaigns have been launched by different sectors of our society to highlight this scourge. While we support and encourage these campaigns, we urge serious dialogue on the underlying causes that have led to the current deplorable state of affairs in our country. We condemn, in the strongest terms, any act of violence against another human being which is a direct negation of the Christian command “… love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Along with a growing global consensus of all people of goodwill, Catholic Social teaching proclaims that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This includes gender issues, the way men understand themselves, others and how they act. Dignity is protected and a healthy society is realised only when human rights are protected and duties are met. Corresponding to these rights and duties are responsibilities –to one another, our families and to the larger society. We are one human family and are therefore called to solidarity with others no matter what our national, racial, ethnic, economic, gender and ideological differences are. We are our brothers and sisters keepers, wherever they may be. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace. The dignity of the human person, our responsibility and the inherent call to solidarity, demands that we promote peace in a society engulfed by violence, rape, abuse and brutality.
The SACBC Justice & Peace Department commits itself to a thorough study of this scourge, and to dialogue and action that could bring about a safe, prosperous and healthy nation.
Bishop Abel Gabuza