3-9 April 2013
The Rt Rev Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton, has recently returned from a seven-day visit to South Africa and Zimbabwe where he made a number of pastoral visits in and around Cape Town and Harare.
“During my visit I saw at first hand the vitality of the Southern African Church and the courageous witness being given by so many Catholics, especially in Zimbabwe, where I heard about the major challenges that the country faces as it prepares for elections later this year.
“The Zimbabwean Bishops have shown great leadership in promoting reconciliation and their Pastoral Letter, entitled ‘Zimbabwe Elections 2013 and the God of Second Chances’, shows the path that politicians need to follow if the country is to have a just and peaceful future.
“In South Africa, I also experienced a Church determined to play a constructive role in public life, for example, through the pioneering work of its Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office.
“Above all, in both countries, I saw vibrant Christian Communities living the Gospel.
“For example, in Holy Trinity Parish, Kuwadzana, I helped Archbishop Robert Ndlovu of Harare confirm 60 young people in a wonderful liturgy in which a worshiping community came together to celebrate in the midst of the poverty and hardship they experience.
“In Cape Town I was inspired by the service given to vulnerable children by Sister Margaret Craig of Nazareth House, originally from the Diocese of Clifton. Sister Margaret has spent over 30 years caring for children with severe physical disabilities, many of whom are HIV positive and have been abandoned.
“These examples, and many others, often supported by help from English and Welsh Catholics, showed what being an Easter People means. It was a privilege to share in that witness.”
Bishop Lang was in the region to meet with the presidents of the Zimbabwean Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Angel Floro, and the president of the Southern African Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Stephen Brislin.
Bishop Lang also attended and addressed the plenary meeting of the Zimbabwean conference.The SACBC’s Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office is directed by Fr Peter-John Pearson and works to `promote the common good in areas of political, economic and social concern.
Nazareth House provides specialised care for severely disabled children and elderly people.
Bishop Lang made pastoral visits to parishes and projects in Harare, including for street children, as well as in in the Cape Flats, such as the Missionaries of Charity house in Khayelitsha and the St Francis Xavier seminary.