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- Russell Pollitt SJ
The toll of COVID-19 on clergy

Much has been written about the toll of COVID-19 on frontline workers, especially doctors and nurses. Russell Pollitt SJ issues a stark reminder that priests are frontline workers too. They celebrate funerals in bizarre circumstances, but they are also ministering to families who have lost loved ones and members of their communities who are, increasingly, falling into poverty. This takes a toll on their mental and spiritual health.

A priest friend works in a busy parish.

Continue reading The toll of COVID-19 on clergy at spotlight.africa.

- Sarah-Leah Pimentel
Mercy conquers doctrine in the Catholic Church’s response to HIV/AIDS

World AIDS Day is celebrated on 1 December each year. The Catholic Church has for decades been immersed in pastoral activities to care for people affected by HIV/AIDS. Sarah-Leah Pimentel comments that the Church’s response to the AIDS crisis is a model for other contemporary social issues.

The Catholic Church has not always been good at responding to issues surrounding human sexuality. Over the centuries, it has demonised sex and intimacy, going so far (in the medieval era) as to dictate when spouses could be intimate.

Continue reading Mercy conquers doctrine in the Catholic Church’s response to HIV/AIDS at spotlight.africa.

- Vatican News
Pope Francis proclaims “Year of St Joseph”

With the Apostolic Letter “Patris corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis recalls the 150th anniversary of the declaration of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. To mark the occasion, the Holy Father has proclaimed a “Year of Saint Joseph” from today, 8 December 2020, to 8 December 2021. Vatican News reports.

In a new Apostolic Letter entitled Patris corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis describes Saint Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows.

Continue reading Pope Francis proclaims “Year of St Joseph” at spotlight.africa.

- Sarah-Leah Pimentel
Uganda’s Church leaders struggle with impartiality as pre-election tensions rise

President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power in Uganda since 1986, is gearing up for another election win on 14 January. He has used the Covid-19 pandemic to prevent his opponents from holding large rallies. Police brutality against opposition presidential candidates, resulting in arrests, riots, and confrontations with supporters, have characterized the electoral campaign. Church leaders — an influential group in a country that is largely Catholic and Anglican — have also been caught up in the political tensions.

Continue reading Uganda’s Church leaders struggle with impartiality as pre-election tensions rise at spotlight.africa.

- Matthew Charlesworth SJ
Pope appoints new bishops for Rustenburg and Witbank dioceses

At noon today it was announced by the Holy See’s Press Office that the Holy Father Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Kevin Dowling, C.S.s.R. as Bishop of the Diocese of Rustenburg, and has appointed the Vicar-General of the Archdiocese of Pretoria, Fr. Robert Mogapi Mphiwe, to be the new Bishop of Rustenburg. At the same time, it was also announced that the current Bishop of Eshowe, Bishop Xolelo Thaddaeus Kumalo has been transferred to care for the Diocese of Witbank.

Continue reading Pope appoints new bishops for Rustenburg and Witbank dioceses at spotlight.africa.

- Mahadi Buthelezi
Catholic Business Forum joins civil society to promote moral renewal

High-profile corruption cases reflect South Africa’s need for moral regeneration. Mahadi Buthelezi reports on a joint initiative by the Catholic Business Forum and the Moral Regeneration Movement — a civil society organization — to call on citizens and government to envision a society characterized by honesty and integrity.

Active citizenship involves recognizing poor stewardship of the country’s resources and holding political and business leaders accountable for their actions. The recent spate of arrests by South Africa’s specialised crime unit, the Hawks, of high-profile businesspeople with links to political power point to a long trajectory of moral decay in our society.

Continue reading Catholic Business Forum joins civil society to promote moral renewal at spotlight.africa.

- Margaret Blackie
Surviving the second wave is a matter of discipline

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s most recent ‘family meeting’ on 11 January painted a sober picture of the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa. The combination of a new strain of the virus and a second wave of infections has placed an immense burden on the health facilities. Margaret Blackie reminds us that reducing social contact, wearing a mask and washing hands are still the most effective ways to contain the pandemic.

We are in the midst of the second wave of Covid-19.

Continue reading Surviving the second wave is a matter of discipline at spotlight.africa.

- Chris Chatteris SJ
No man is an island

2020 took us all by surprise. Chris Chatteris SJ says that the general response to last year’s challenges proved that human beings are more likely to cooperate than to seek isolation. He draws on literature and personal experiences to reflect on the human potential to turn adversity into opportunity and to recreate a world that is more sustainable.

As the year draws to a close, I paused to reflect on the journey that 2020 took us on.

Continue reading No man is an island at spotlight.africa.

- Shrikant Peters
Life is more than dust devils

Shrikant Peters describes the emotional toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on healthcare workers in 2020. He reminds us that life is more than disease and shares his experience of stepping away from the harsh realities of life with the virus and appreciating the small joys of life.

Work

This year has been wall-to-wall chaos in all healthcare facilities across the country – a rollercoaster ride of epic proportions, a constant see-sawing, the collective rush to prop up failing systems in both COVID and non-COVID services as we pitifully tried to meet the onslaught of demand with woefully inadequate resources.

Continue reading Life is more than dust devils at spotlight.africa.

- Paulina French
Medium Term Budget: Policy statement of despair

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivered his Medium-Term Budget speech on 28 October 2020, painting a sober picture of South Africa’s economic recovery prospects. Paulina French examines the key elements of the Minister’s speech and concludes that the government’s financial policy does not augur well for the country’s impoverished population.

During Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni’s Medium-Term Budget Speech on 28 October 2020, most South Africans waited to find some hope embedded in his speech.

Continue reading Medium Term Budget: Policy statement of despair at spotlight.africa.

- spotlight.africa
Education: Promises, promises… no delivery

After much confusion, schools in South Africa reopened on 8 June for Grade 7 and 12 learners. The resumption of classes even though the promises by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to deliver water and personal protection equipment did not materialise. A teacher, who has asked to remain anonymous, shares her concerns about the lack of preparedness that places teachers and students and, by extension, their families at risk.

On 19 May 2020 came Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s announcement that schools would be reopening on 1 June 2020.

Continue reading Education: Promises, promises… no delivery at spotlight.africa.

- Shrikant Peters
COVID-19 and the blame game

Shrikant Peters continues his series looking at the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s medical resources. In this piece, he examines the statistical models that point to a sharp increase in the number of infections nationwide, which will place heavy strain on the number of available hospital beds. He addresses the already high infection rates in the Western Cape and warns that the rest of the country is only a few weeks away from presenting similar figures.

Continue reading COVID-19 and the blame game at spotlight.africa.

- Fernando C. Saldivar SJ
The world after the pandemic: A glimpse into the work of the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa

Increasingly we are beginning to see that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic extend beyond health. The prolonged shutdown of economies has hit poorer countries, including many in Africa, the hardest. Fernando Saldivar S.J describes the work of the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa’s (JENA) work for the Vatican COVID-19 Commission. JENA issues a stark warning that conflict and poverty are likely to continue long after the virus has been overcome.

In March 2020, Pope Francis called on the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development to establish a COVID-19 Commission to bring together the Church’s resources and begin reflecting on the needs of the post-pandemic world.

Continue reading The world after the pandemic: A glimpse into the work of the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa at spotlight.africa.

- Sarah-Leah Pimentel
Church condemns attack on school in Cameroon’s restive region

Church leaders have condemned the 24 October attack by unidentified gunmen on a school in Cameroon which left several children dead and others injured. It is thought that the massacre is part of ongoing tensions between Cameroon’s French and English-speaking communities that began in 2016. Sarah-Leah Pimentel reports.

On Saturday, 24 October, unknown gunmen entered a private highschool in Kumbe, in Cameroon’s Southwest Region, and opened fire on children aged between 12 and 14 as they sat at their lessons.

Continue reading Church condemns attack on school in Cameroon’s restive region at spotlight.africa.

- Sarah-Leah Pimentel
The Mozambican bishop on the frontline of a humanitarian crisis

Armed insurgency has created a humanitarian crisis in northern Mozambique. The Catholic Church in the Diocese of Pemba — under the leadership of Bishop Luiz Lisboa — is helping the communities who have been displaced by the violence and calling for greater engagement from the Mozambican Government and international aid agencies. Sarah-Leah Pimentel reports.

When he was appointed as the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Pemba in northern Mozambique in 2013, Brazilian-born Luiz Fernando Lisboa could hardly have imagined that seven years later, he would be on the frontlines of a humanitarian emergency and much less that he would attract the attention of both Pope Francis and the Mozambican President, Filipe Nyusi.

Continue reading The Mozambican bishop on the frontline of a humanitarian crisis at spotlight.africa.

- Ncamiso Vilakati
Stay home and all will be well

Ncamiso Vilakati is a priest from eSwatini who is currently studying in Rome. He has witnessed the devastation of the coronavirus first hand. He shares his experiences of being in lockdown and his hopes for his return to his homeland. He also makes a very urgent plea for the citizens of Southern Africa to take the dangers of the coronavirus seriously and to put aside petty politics. Instead, he calls for a spirit of responsibility, national unity and discipline as the only way to prevent a massive loss of life.

Continue reading Stay home and all will be well at spotlight.africa.

- Shrikant Peters
The uncommon cold – a healthy response to the coronavirus

The recent outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has, understandably, created a lot of anxiety, especially among those whose immune systems may be weak. That, however, says Shrikant Peters, is no excuse for discrimination, human rights violations, or any other form of harmful stereotyping. All people are created in God’s image and deserve respect and, should they contract the illness, access to dignified and adequate healthcare.

Although it has captured the imagination and invoked fear in global audiences only recently, coronaviruses have existed for many years.

Continue reading The uncommon cold – a healthy response to the coronavirus at spotlight.africa.

- Chris Chatteris SJ
Amazon fires — political ploy to privatise public land

The massive forest fires in the Amazon have reached unprecedented proportions. Chris Chatteris comments on the lack of political goodwill in putting an end to the fires, and far more importantly, a change to environmental policies. The victims, he says, are the world’s people, but expresses hope that public activism will put politicians under increasing pressure to change the way we treat our common home.

The Amazon rain forests are burning.

Continue reading Amazon fires — political ploy to privatise public land at spotlight.africa.

- Mark Potterton
Breaking the silence of abuse in schools

The horrific account of sexual abuse at Parktown Boys is the subject of veteran journalist Sam Cowen’s new book. Mark Potterton examines the merits of the account but expresses ethical concerns regarding the victims’ right to privacy.

Sam Cowen is a former TV and radio presenter who has been in the media industry for over two decades. She revisits the Parktown Boys High School abuse tragedy in her recent book, Brutal School Ties: The Parktown Boys’ Tragedy released earlier this year by Melinda Ferguson Books.

Continue reading Breaking the silence of abuse in schools at spotlight.africa.

- Matthew Charlesworth SJ
Thoughts on Guy Ferrer’s “T.O.L.E.R.A.N.C.E.”

Matthew Charlesworth visited his former high school, where he encountered an artistic composition that prompted a deeper spiritual reflection. The artwork calls for greater religious tolerance, but Charlesworth suggests that it reveals a far more encompassing image of God and the spiritual quest that necessarily values a tolerance that must lead us towards genuine fraternity.

“T.O.L.E.R.A.N.C.E.”, by sculptor and artist Guy Ferrer, is composed of nine bronze sculptures, each representing a letter of the word “tolerance” and depicting aspects of a religion, belief or spirituality.

Continue reading Thoughts on Guy Ferrer’s “T.O.L.E.R.A.N.C.E.” at spotlight.africa.

- Chris Chatteris SJ
Cynicism is the lazy thinker’s theory for everything

Rutger Bergman (2020) has published a new book in which he examines the inclinations of human nature and dismantles the pessimistic view of humankind. Chris Chatteris provides a review of Bregman’s treatise, offering a more hopeful perspective on our ability to work together for the common good.

Rutger Bregman, in his new book Humankind: A Hopeful History plays two philosophers — Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau — up against each other to determine whether, by nature, humankind is tends towards survival of the fittest or cooperation.

Continue reading Cynicism is the lazy thinker’s theory for everything at spotlight.africa.

- Sarah-Leah Pimentel
Uganda’s Church leaders struggle with impartiality as pre-election tensions rise

President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power in Uganda since 1986, is gearing up for another election win on 14 January. He has used the Covid-19 pandemic to prevent his opponents from holding large rallies. Police brutality against opposition presidential candidates, resulting in arrests, riots, and confrontations with supporters, have characterized the electoral campaign. Church leaders — an influential group in a country that is largely Catholic and Anglican — have also been caught up in the political tensions.

Continue reading Uganda’s Church leaders struggle with impartiality as pre-election tensions rise at spotlight.africa.

- Mark Potterton
How do we save our Catholic schools from financial disaster?

Catholic Schools Week celebrates the contribution that Catholic schools have made to education and society. Despite these successes, Mark Potterton addresses the very real challenge of financial hardship faced by many Catholic schools. He examines the changing educational environment that places enormous economic pressures on schools and recommends collaboration by Catholic schools to protect their common future.

I hope and pray that this crisis will bring out the treasures of who we are called to be as disciples of Jesus, and to be the field hospital that Pope Francis dreams of.

Continue reading How do we save our Catholic schools from financial disaster? at spotlight.africa.

- Stephan de Beer
Homelessness and COVID-19: Political, institutional and theological capacities and priorities

Two weeks into the national lockdown, media reports have emerged about how various towns and cities in South Africa are responding to the needs of the homeless amid the real threat of contamination, political positioning, and collaborative engagement between government and civil society. Stephan de Beer from the National Homeless Network describes some of what he has observed and reflects on the moral duty of people of faith to reach out to the homeless, and all vulnerable people, during this time of crisis.

Continue reading Homelessness and COVID-19: Political, institutional and theological capacities and priorities at spotlight.africa.

- Russell Pollitt SJ
South Africa teaches the world to hope, Taizé Prior says

Br Alois Löser is the Prior of the ecumenical Community of Taizé in France. Next year he will visit South Africa where his community will host a gathering called “The Pilgrimage of Trust on Earth”. Some brothers are already living in Cape Town preparing for the meeting which will attract thousands of young people from across the world. Br Alois was in Rome for the Synod of Bishops on Young People. He spoke to Russell Pollitt SJ about South Africa and his hopes for the Cape Town meeting.

Continue reading South Africa teaches the world to hope, Taizé Prior says at spotlight.africa.

- Russell Pollitt SJ
Synod 2018 – ENDS: Women, sex abuse & a synodal Church

On Sunday 28 October Pope Francis celebrated mass in St Peter’s Basilica to mark the end of the month-long worldwide gathering of bishops for the Synod on Young People. The final document of the Synod was released late Saturday evening. Russell Pollitt SJ has been following the Synod in Rome, he takes a look at the final document. 

Late in the evening of Saturday 27 October the final document of the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment was released.

Continue reading Synod 2018 – ENDS: Women, sex abuse & a synodal Church at spotlight.africa.

- Russell Pollitt SJ
Synod 2018 – Now “determined in missionary spirit”

The Primate of all Ireland said at Friday’s Synod of Bishops press briefing that he has not engaged with and encouraged young people enough, writes Russell Pollitt SJ from Rome.

A graced month

Both Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Austria and Archbishop Eamon Martin of Ireland said that the Synod has been a time of grace – despite their personal apprehension before it started.

Cardinal Schönborn said that when appointed he was concerned about being away from Vienna for such a long time.

Continue reading Synod 2018 – Now “determined in missionary spirit” at spotlight.africa.

- Sarah-Leah Pimentel
Skeleton in the closet: A closer look at the clothing industry

During the month of September, many Christian churches celebrate creation and draw attention to the ways in which our consumption patterns are contributing to environmental degradation. Sarah-Leah Pimentel takes a look at the unsustainable practices in the clothing industry. This piece may serve as a reflection during the Jesuit’s worldwide Season of Creation Prayer vigil, to be held at 8pm (South African time).

I dare you to peek inside your closet.

Continue reading Skeleton in the closet: A closer look at the clothing industry at spotlight.africa.

- Mahadi Buthelezi
First rains as a sign of rebirth and new life

Mahadi Buthelezi celebrates the start of spring by reflecting on some of the lessons that COVID-19 has taught us. Just as we have had to adapt to new ways of interacting with one another, she also challenges us to find new solutions to today’s social and environmental problems.

The first rain on 1 September in Johannesburg marked the start of spring. It is also a springtime in our lives, a time of hope and rebirth amid the scourge and gloom of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continue reading First rains as a sign of rebirth and new life at spotlight.africa.

- Margaret Blackie
Reconnecting with the world: The challenge of living with COVID-19

COVID-19 is here to stay for some time, but the good news is that doctors and scientists have learned a great deal about the virus in the last six months. Margaret Blackie explains that these lessons provide a basis for each person — given their level of susceptibility to the virus and their levels of comfort — to choose their social interactions.

We have learnt a great deal in the last six months about COVID-19.

Continue reading Reconnecting with the world: The challenge of living with COVID-19 at spotlight.africa.

- Salesian Life Choices
NGOs struggle for survival as donor funds dry out

Many of South Africa’s most vulnerable groups rely on the non-profit sector for much-needed support, from food and shelter, to education and legal services. However, the donor-generated income of many NGOs has dried up due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Salesian Life Choices explains what is at stake if NGOs run out funds.

The economic uncertainty that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 will almost certainly carry through into 2021.

Continue reading NGOs struggle for survival as donor funds dry out at spotlight.africa.

- Stan Muyebe OP
Popular movements as the catalyst for economic transformation

Commenting on a Vatican meeting with popular movements in late October, Stan Muyebe OP observes that economic justice and overcoming inequality are at the heart of Pope Francis’ social teaching. The Holy Father’s first encyclical Evangelii Guadium and a recent letter to grassroots organizations point to a consistent message of hope by calling on communities living on the peripheries to become catalysts for the transformation of global economic systems.

Continue reading Popular movements as the catalyst for economic transformation at spotlight.africa.

- Stan Muyebe OP
Small-scale farmers need much more than a bailout

The financial stimulus package for businesses in distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic is the South African Government’s strategy to begin the process of economic recovery. Small-scale farmers received only a meagre percentage of these funds. Stan Muyebe, from the Justice and Peace Commission, under the auspices of the Southern African Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), calls for the transformation of the food supply chain to stimulate rural development and provide greater access for small-scale agricultural producers.

Continue reading Small-scale farmers need much more than a bailout at spotlight.africa.

- Mike Batley
Restorative justice offers some alternatives to addressing gender-based violence

The 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women started on 25 November. The emphasis of this annual campaign is behavioural change to stop endemic levels of abuse against the women and children of our country and worldwide. Mike Batley introduces the concept of restorative justice as an opportunity for offenders to recognise the hurt they caused and take measures to change their actions.

Shocking, devastating accounts of women and children experiencing violence are currently featuring more prominently than usual in the news cycles.

Continue reading Restorative justice offers some alternatives to addressing gender-based violence at spotlight.africa.

- Salesian Life Choices
A grandmother’s love begins a journey of healing

Life Choices is a Salesian program that works with communities on the Cape Flats to help young people learn life skills that allows them to overcome poverty. One of the programs — Family Affairs — equips parents with skills and psychosocial support to raise their children with positive values and influences. Soraya Salie, a grandmother, shares her story of how the program helped her to make a new start with her grandchildren and become a support for her community.

Continue reading A grandmother’s love begins a journey of healing at spotlight.africa.

- Levinia Pienaar
Lockdown encounters that reminded me to start living again

Eight months after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa, many us have begun to emerge from the lockdown experience and life begins to take on a semblance of normality. Some of us are glad to resume our activities, but it is also a time to reassess what is truly important in our lives. The pain of isolation has triggered reflections about how the loss of our freedom, fear, and limited physical contact have affected us.

Continue reading Lockdown encounters that reminded me to start living again at spotlight.africa.

Spotlight.Africa

Spotlight Africa strives to be a reliable, reasoned and informed source. It is a ministry of the Jesuit Institute South Africa and will shed light on the social, political and economic happenings in Southern Africa.

It offers analysis and commentary – informed by Catholic Social Teaching and Christian ethics – covering, specifically, things that are and should be important for the local Church and Catholics in Southern Africa.

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TWEETS & RETWEETS


Jan 14, 2021 at 4:58pm
Feeling overwhelmed, anxious, fearful? Need perspective? Need rest and renewal? Why not register for the Renewal Retreat being offered at the beautiful and tranquil Origins Retreat Centre in the Cradle of Humankind? Places limited, register now retreats @jesuitinstitute.org.za https://t.co/IHtY7eEsDf SAJesuits photo
Jan 13, 2021 at 6:55am
Seeking renewal? Need some rest? Overwhelmed? Join us for this unique time out to be renewed. Early bird until 31 January 2021. Email retreats @jesuitinstitute.org.za @rpollittsj @GillHugo https://t.co/8yY7pBuK5t SAJesuits photo
Jan 11, 2021 at 2:11pm
Urgent international appeal to request release of human rights defenders in India, including Fr. Stan Swamy SJ #StandwithStan. Read the appeal and sign here.

https://t.co/ewMGuHvAs0 https://t.co/C4hX1n2YBs
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Jan 9, 2021 at 5:29pm
Please pray for Archbishop Abel Gabuza who is in Hillcrest Hospital being treated for COVID.
We pray for all who are infected with the Coronavirus, their families, and for all healthcare workers at the forefront of this battle.
Dec 25, 2020 at 2:15am
Christmas Day – Mass– 25 December 2020, 9am. Join Fr Anthony Egan SJ as he explains why Christmas is a feast that matters. https://t.co/GRcVOusnV2
Dec 16, 2020 at 8:28am
Feel like you need to be renewed? Is your soul tired? The Jesuit Institute is offering a Renewal Retreat at the beautiful Origins Retreat Centre in the Cradle of Humankind in March 2021. Places are limited so book now to avoid disappointment! https://t.co/3oKZQHRy8T SAJesuits photo