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The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) Justice and Peace Commission is disturbed by the crime statistics, especially the high levels of murder of women and girls reported in the crime statistics.
Over the past few weeks, the country has witnessed unparalleled incidences of mindless and callous killings of innocent women and girls. The latest of such tragic killings being that of a University of Cape Town student, Uyinene Mrwetyana and boxing champion, Leighandre Jegels who was shot and killed by her police officer boyfriend.
Says Bishop Victor Phalana, Chairperson of the SACBC Justice and Peace Commission: “The Justice and Peace Commission not only condemns the killings, but also condemns the anger in our hearts and physical abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse and sexual abuse of women and children. We echo the words of Pope Francis who recently said (Peru, 19 June 2018) that ‘Violence against women cannot be treated as “normal”, maintaining a culture of machismo blind to the leading role that women play in our communities. It is not right for us to look the other way and let the dignity of so many women, especially young women, be trampled upon.
The human security situation in South Africa is in stark contrast to the country’s revered democratic ethos
“South Africa has got an appalling record of femicide rate, with the World Health Organization estimating that 12.1 in every 100 000 women are victims to femicide yearly. The human security situation in South Africa is in stark contrast to the country’s revered democratic ethos. Violation of women’s basic human rights, as manifested in the current wave of wanton and senseless killings of women and young girls, testifies that South Africa is struggling to transition from its violent past epitomized by the apartheid system.
“Despite our impressive constitution that embraces plurality and equality between men and women, gender and power relations are still skewed in favour of men. The prevalence of patriarchal practices in all spheres of human interaction and media discourse shows that women are still not being treated as equals. Male chauvinism, misogynistic tendencies and stereotypes about women are a social pathology that still haunts our country. The collective upshot of these toxic day-to-day practices amplified through public institutions and media discourse offer justification for female subordination and oppression by men.
“The recurrence of femicide and other forms of gender-based violence in our country speaks to the urgent need for collective action by all concerned parties in order to root out this deplorable culture. The government must take serious and practical steps to stem the tide of femicide. It is therefore imperative that the political leadership puts the security of women and young girls high on the national agenda.
“It is time, in the words of Deuteronomy (30:19), to “Choose life so that you and your descendants may live …” We invite the country to join Pope St John Paul II who once said: “I proclaim, with all the conviction of my faith in Christ and with an awareness of my mission, that violence is evil, that violence is unacceptable as a solution to problems, that violence is unworthy… Violence is a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of our humanity” (Dublin, 27 September 1979).
“Choose life so that you and your descendants may live …”
“There is need for multisectoral engagement to raise public awareness about women’s rights. Existing laws on women’s rights must be enforced without fear or favour to ensure that perpetrators are brought to book. As the Southern African Catholic Bishops Commission Justice and Peace Commission, it is our considered position that femicide is a crime against humanity and must be exterminated by all means necessary.
“We commit our churches and schools as safe places for women and children. We as church will use our liturgies, catechesis and homilies to sensitize men and boys about the evils of gender-based violence.”
For further information, contact:
Bishop Victor Phalana
Chairperson, SACBC Justice and Peace Commission
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It is with dismay that we take note of the recent upsurge in violence against foreign nationals, starting two weeks ago in the Johannesburg CBD, last week in Pretoria, and this week again in the Johannesburg CBD, Malvern, Turffontein and Krugersdorp.
Once again we receive reports of the authorities doing very little to protect the victims. We received report of police standing by idly in Pretoria while shops were looted and people attacked. Not a single arrest was made on that day.
Once again the authorities resort to the old explanation: that this is not xenophobia, but the work of criminal elements.
Let us be absolutely clear – this is not an attempt by concerned South Africans to rid our cities of drug dealers. And this is not the work of a few criminal elements. It is xenophobia, plain and simple. If it was about drugs, why are South African drug dealers not being targeted as well? Are we really to believe that there are none? And why are drug addicts who rob people in our city centres to get money to buy drugs not being targeted? If it is the work of a few criminal elements, why are South African owned businesses not being looted as well?
The teaching of the Church is direct and uncompromising. More than 80% of South Africans claim to be Christian. What are our religious leaders teaching the multitudes that fill our Churches every Sunday? Galatians 3:28 says: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” By the same token, there is neither South African nor Nigerian nor Ethiopian. We are all one in Christ Jesus.
God makes it absolutely clear that He has a special concern for refugees, migrants and strangers. Deuteronomy 10:18 says: “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” He isn’t just concerned about the foreigners. He loves them.
Jesus goes even further. Matthew 25 says: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me”.. He identifies directly with strangers. By welcoming a refugee or migrant, we are welcoming Jesus Himself.
In his scathing attack on the inactivity of people of good will to do anything against the Nazi tyranny in Germany, Pastor Martin Niemoller said:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.
Let us take heed of this. We are facing a rising tide of hatred and intolerance, no different to the rising tide of hatred in Nazi Germany. If we do not take urgent action to stop it, there will be nothing left.
I appeal to all people of faith, and all people of good will, to speak out and take action. In the words of St Francis: “Make us channels of your peace”.
My prayer is that God will fulfil his promise made in Ezekiel 36:26:” I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
+ Archbishop Buti Tlhagale OMI
Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference Office for Migrants and Refugees
Dear Monsignor, Rev. Father, Religious Superior, Rev. Deacon,Brothers and Sisters,
DEATH NOTIFICATION OF FR. EUGENE HENNESSEY SDB
It is with great sadness that I hereby inform the Clergy, Religious and Laity in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg of the passing of Fr. Eugene Hennessy SDB who passed away on Thursday 12 September 2019 at the Bosco Salesian Community in Walkerville.
The Requiem Mass will be celebrated at the Bosco Salesian Community Chapel in Walkerville on Thursday 19 September at 11h00.
Kindly keep Fr. Hennessy and his family, friends and Salesian Brothers and Sisters in your prayers at this difficult time of loss.
Yours in Christ.
+Bishop Duncan Tsoke