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October 12 to October 18, 2011

R5,50 (incl VAT RSA) Reg No. 1920/002058/06

The story of Ngome visionary Sr Reinolda

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Farewell: Chris Moerdyk signs off

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No 4745

New mission fields: Teaching, sports, music

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Trevor Manuel tells bishops of new plan for SA BY GÜNTHER SIMMERMACHER

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HE problem of corruption robs the poor”, minister in the presidency Trevor Manuel told the Catholic bishops of Southern Africa and other Catholic leaders in a briefing and consultation meeting on the National Planning Commission (NPC). Mr Manuel chairs the NPC, an advisory body set up in 2010 to produce a draft vision for where South Africa should be by 2030, and to recommend a clear strategy to accomplish this vision. The NPC comprises 25 part-time commissioners from politics, business, academia and civil society. They are appointed by the president and supported by a full-time secretariat. Mr Manuel emphasised that “not all” commissioners are members of the ruling African National Congress. He said the commissioners give about 30 hours a month of their time. In his meeting with ten bishops and officials of several Catholic organisations, Mr Manuel outlined the NPC’s vision, discussed the commission’s diagnostic report which was released in June, and engaged in discussions. The Catholic representatives declared themselves impressed with Mr Manuel’s openness in acknowledging government failures since 1994, when the ANC assumed power. In his closing remarks, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban thanked Mr Manuel for his “openness and receptiveness to the questions that have been asked” by the Catholic representatives. The cardinal encouraged Catholic leaders to communicate the aims of the NPC in their areas of influence. He also noted that after apartheid was defeated, “we went into the sacristies and forgot about engagement” with political developments. Mr Manuel called on the churches to be more outspoken, saying that the government sometimes needs them “to knock our

heads together”. The diagnostic report, which drew from more than 100 pre-existing research documents “was well received by most, including opposition parties, because it was a frank assessment of government’s shortcomings,” said Kenny Pasensie of the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office, an associate body of the SACBC, which hosted Mr Manuel’s presentation. Mr Manuel told the meeting that in framing the diagnostic report, the NPC was determined not to “airbrush” any shortcomings. The report identified nine major issues that are obstacles to development in South Africa. These areas concern unemployment, “poor educational outcomes”, a crumbling infrastructure, a resource-intensive economy, corruption, the marginalisation of the poor, uneven public service performance, divided communities, and a high disease burden. The NPC is tasked with identifying clear strategies to address these problems. This, Mr Manuel said, requires the input of the South African public. For example, speaking on what the report termed the “spatial marginalisation” of the poor, Mr Manuel pointed out that the poorest live in areas that are far from employment opportunities. “We can either move people to where jobs are,” he said, “or move jobs to where the people are.” Reversing the effects of spatial apartheid, he added, “will be a central challenge in the decades ahead”. Mr Manuel also condemned corruption, saying it “robs the poor.” He added that “this is the view of the Planning Commission”. The former finance minister said that nation-building must be a priority, but that it must go deeper than “notions of a Rainbow Nation”. “There has to be a lot more substance to the way we build the nation than waving flags and the feel-good factor of the 2010 World Cup,” Mr Manuel said. In a consultation following the minister’s

Seen at the end of Trevor Manuel’s presentation of the National Planning Commission to Catholic leaders are (from left): head of the ministry of the presidency Dumisa Jele, Fr Sean O'Leary of the Denis Hurley Peace Institute in Pretoria, Mr Manuel, Josephilda Nhlapo-Hlope of the NPC secretariat (and formerly of the Catholic Development and Wefare Agency), Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, and Fr Peter-John Pearson, director of the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office. (Photo: Günther Simmermacher) presentation, the Catholic representatives raised questions of concern. Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha told Mr Manuel that there is a need to change among many South Africans a culture of entitlement. On the subject of indiscriminate government grants, Bishop Sipuka said: “We must help people to unlearn the dependency syndrome, and empower them to do things.” CPLO research director Mike Pothier welcomed Mr Manuel’s “taking the nation into confidence on failings”, but warned that “there will be a political price to pay” as the NPC inevitably will step on many politicians’ toes. Mr Manuel and Catholic representatives emphasised the need for South Africans on all levels to be aware of the NPC’s work, and to participate in the process. In late September, NPC members, including Mr Manuel and vice-chairman Cyril Ramaphosa, communicated with the public in an on-line “jam” on the NPC website (www.npconline.co.za). Mr Manuel said that some 10 000 people had taken part in the “jam”, which had been heavily promoted on university campuses. The NPC will present its vision statement to President Jacob Zuma on November 11 at 11:00—the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year of the century.

Common Era Dating backlash

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BY JOHN THAVIS

HE Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano said it was “historically senseless hypocrisy” for the BBC to drop the dating abbreviations B.C. and A.D. on the grounds that they might offend non-Christians. In a front-page commentary the newspaper said the change reflected a wider effort to “cancel every trace of Christianity from Western culture.” The British media corporation recently announced it would replace B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini, or Year of the Lord) with B.C.E. (Before Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era.) It said the new terms were a “religiously neutral” alternative. The Vatican newspaper added its voice to a growing number of critics, who have noted that the new dating abbreviations still use the birth of Christ as a reference point, but without acknowledging the connection. “To deny the historically revolutionary importance of the coming of Christ on earth, which is also accepted by those who do not recognise him as the son of God, is an act of enormous foolishness,” the newspaper said.—CNS

Knighthood for SA-born Vatican Radio man

T Cape Town-born Seàn Lovett, head of Vatican Radio’s English and Italian services, with Princess Elettra Marconi, daughter of the inventor of the radio, inside the transmitting station Marconi built for Pope Pius XI in 1931.

STAFF REPORTER

HE South African-born head of Vatican Radio’s English and Italian services has been awarded the Equestrian Order of St Gregory the Great papal knighthood. Seàn Patrick Lovett was awarded the knighthood at a Mass celebrated by the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who also delivered the homily. Cardinal Roberto Tucci, Vatican Radio’s director-general until 1985, concelebrated. Mr Lovett was born in Cape Town where he and his family were members of St Patrick’s

parish in Mowbray. Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, head of the Vatican Press Office and current general-director of Vatican Radio, told the ceremony that Mr Lovett “certainly has a particular gift for expression and for communication”. Mr Lovett, who also offers communication courses and lectures in social communications at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, “enjoys helping others communicate in ways that best suit their individual personalities”, the Jesuit priest said. “His passion and talent for teaching people how to communicate takes him all over the

world, and especially to Africa, where he has participated in various Church projects.” Last year Mr Lovett co-presented a workshop hosted by Radio Veritas in Johannesburg on crisis commiunications. “During his more than 30 years of service, he has put his talents to work,” said Fr Lombardi, “not only for Vatican Radio’s Englishlanguage programming, but also in the radio’s efforts to update its programming schedule and find new programme formats, not to mention his stewardship of the live, Rome-area channel, 105 Live!” The Vatican spokesman added:

“Seàn’s contribution to the cause of finding new ways for the Church to preach and spread the Good News is well-known, and worthy of recognition: this is why we present him with this award.” Mr Lovett studied at the Univerity of Cape Town and the National Academy of Dramatic Art in Rome, and earned a doctorate in Communications from the American University of Rome. He has written a best-selling book about Mother Teresa of Calcutta, which has been published in five languages. He has also provided voiceovers for films, cartoons and documentaries.


The Southern Cross - 111012 Front Page  

Southern Africa's Catholic Weekly. 12 - 18 October 2011

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