« Do not allow political differences of opinion to be sidetracked by criminal intentions that seek to create anarchy in our country », Proclaims the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Southern Africa (SACBC). In a statement released Tuesday, July 13, Sithembele Sipuka, bishop of Mthatha (a town in eastern South Africa) and president of the SACBC, condemns the violence that has been raging in his country for several days.

“An endless spiral of violence”

In its press release, the Episcopal Conference warns: “ Sometimes it only takes small acts of violence for a nation to sink into a veritable anarchy, an endless spiral of violence and serious bloodshed “. The SACBC is based on the words of Pope Francis, who said in September 2019 that “ no country has a future if the engine that unites its inhabitants, brings them together and resolves their differences is composed of violence and revenge. »

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The bishops also recall that the pandemic ” thrives in these messy conditions », Endangering the whole country. They therefore condemn the ambient confusion, aware that it can lead to ” a social and economic situation worse than the one we are currently experiencing ».

“The dry grass of poverty”

The Southern African Conference of Catholic Bishops points to the ” economic difficulties »Experienced by the poorest segments of the population.

For the bishops, it is social inequalities that led to the conflagration of the country: “ The differences of opinion have sparked a fire of violence and looting, as the “dry grass” of poverty has “grown too much” over the decades. “According to the bishops, these inequalities are the result of” issues that the government, over the years, has failed to address comprehensively “. As a result, the SACBC calls on the executive to “ at the service of the population and businesses, thus enabling everyone to participate in the economic system in a meaningful way. »

“Choose the path of dialogue”

Sithembele Sipuka then calls for dialogue, to ” rise above partisan interests to protect life and preserve the common good In order to resolve these tensions. He wants the country ” continue to choose the path of dialogue to settle our differences as brothers and sisters, united by the love of our country and by the desire for its prosperity, for the good of all those who live and work there ”.

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The SACBC thus offers ” a change of mentality, a collective conversion of hearts and minds to understand that violent protests and destruction of property can never be a just response to economic hardship and injustice “. Recalling the words of the pope in his encyclical All Brotherspublished in October 2020, the bishops request a ” constructive engagement ” against violence.

Clashes in South Africa

In South Africa, 72 people have died and 1,200 have been arrested in clashes that have raged for several days. Following the arrest of former head of state Jacob Zuma, sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court in the context of a corruption trial, the country has experienced unprecedented violence since the advent of the post-apartheid democracy.

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