RESPONSE TO A REQUEST FOR A MEETING BETWEEN WE ARE ALL CHURCH SOUTH AFRICA AND THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE

In October I wrote a detailed letter to the SACBC explaining that at our last meeting with Archbishop Nxumalo, Head of the Theological Advisory Committee (TAC), he had expressed “the hope that WAACSA would be able to assist the bishops in getting the laity more engaged in the mission of the Church in South Africa”. I said that WAACSA would welcome a discussion with the bishops as to how best WAACSA can serve the Church in South Africa. “We believe that a meeting with the bishops would be opportune now in view of their recent decision to establish a laity council within a Department of the Laity”

In November I received a reply from the SACBC Admin Board (chaired by Archbishop Brislin, as President) recommending that WAACSA continue to interact with the TAC so that “meaningful guidelines can be found for WAACSA to make … contributions to the Church”…but… “the Bishops noted that there are inconsistencies in what is contained in your letter pertaining to the Vision /Mission of WAACSA and what appears on your website”

I replied that we felt that a meeting with the bishops would be more productive than further meetings with the TAC, and I also asked for clarification about the “inconsistencies”, so that we could resolve them. After two reminders I received a note from Archbishop Brislin at the end of February 2015 saying that we may contact Archbishop Nxumalo if we wish to have further meetings with the TAC, or we are free to approach any bishop for a meeting. No response was made to my request for clarification about the so-called inconsistencies.

Comment: It is clear that the SACBC does not wish to hear what WAACSA can offer about engaging with the laity more effectively, or indeed to enter into any direct dialogue with WAACSA at this time. This is also not the first time that unsubstantiated allegations have been made about WAACSA by bishops, who then will not answer requests to clarify and resolve the problem, if any

Brian Robertson, National Coordinator, WAACSA