By Bp José Luis IMC
The first plenary session of this year started on Tuesday evening with the celebration of Mass at St John Vianney seminary. While the seminarians are on holidays, the bishops use their bedrooms and other facilities.
Being in Pretoria, not far from our offices, priests, religious, friends and everyone working at the SACBC is invited for the celebration of the Mass … and supper!
Mass was presided by the SACBC president, archbishop Stephen Brislin (Cape Town) and bishop Graham Rose (Dundee) was entrusted with the homily.
Reflecting on the Gospel of John 18:37 where Jesus says: “I came into the world for this, to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice“ bishop Rose grabbed everyone’s attention when he spoke about a prophet for our times: Pontius Pilate! It was him who asked Jesus and is asking us today: “Truth? What is that?” (John 18:38)
Reminding us of the reality of “fake news” among other cases, he said: “It seems right now throughout the world that if you pay your 30 pieces of silver the truth can be tailor-made for you”
He then prayed that the Spirit give us the courage to raise to the essential task of being witnesses to the truth.
Before the final blessing the bishops recognised in a special Fr Barney McAller’s generous service to our SACBC. He led the department of evangelization for many years and is now actively involved raising funds for the “SACBC Foundation” created by the bishops to support the work of the Church.
Fr Barney joked saying: “When I was in the department of evangelization bishops were working for me, they were my field workers. The wheel has turned and now … I am working for them!”
He has just gone through a serious heart operation in Ireland but could not wait to be back in South Africa. “He loves our Church and the people of this country (…) He is a clear example of the joy of the Gospel that Pope Francis speaks about in his first apostolic exhortation” said Archbishop Slattery as he introduced the presentation of the award. “Thank you very much. We appreciate all that you do and have done for the Church. Evangelization has been the theme of your life which you always presented as ‘a poor man showing another poor man where to find bread’”
In her vote of thanks Sr Hermenegild Makoro, SACBC secretary general, thanked Bp Rose for reminding everyone that “had Pontius Pilate listened to his wife things could have been different”. She hoped the Church will listen more to the voice of women.
This year the Catholic Church celebrates 200 years of the official presence in Southern Africa. The SACBC celebrated 70 years of existence in 2017