SIR – Outrage as Ramaphosa ‘hijacks’ church service . . . this was the heading in your paper edition on 12th September 2015. There are so many things that are not correct with this heading and some of the things mentioned in the article.
The word “hijacks” gives the impression that, as the leaders of the Church, we were innocent victims and had no control whatsoever.
Mr Cyril Ramaphosa did not hijack the church service. It was on 8th September that we were informed that Mr Cyril Ramaphosa wished to join us during our celebration of Mass.
We were conscious of several things. We made the organisers aware that while in all the Catholic Churches throughout the world there is no sign that reads “admission reserved”, the doors are always open for anyone to join our celebration.
We made the organisers aware that Mr Ramaphosa is free to join us on Sunday morning in his personal capacity. On Sunday before the start of our celebration I made it clear to Mr Ramaphosa that we were going to have a celebration not a political rally.
I also mentioned that he must be aware that some people are going to be unhappy that he has joined us on this day and there will be different interpretations given to this visit. I mentioned that the church is apolitical, yet we are called to pray for our political leaders. This we find in Romans 13.
I was upfront with Mr Ramaphosa about these matters when I had a conversation with him before the start of the celebration and I also repeated this message to all who were present at the beginning of the celebration.
The blessing one gives is not restricted to Catholics. There are people of various faiths who now and again come to my house and ask for a blessing, I have not turned anyone away because she/he is not a member of the Catholic Church.
Personally, I am not a card-carrying member of the ANC nor do I wish to be one. I have not aligned myself with any politician.
Perhaps the “sins” we committed, according to some of the people who were interviewed, including Mr Boitumelo Babuseng (DA MPL), is that we allowed Mr Ramaphosa to greet the people and receive a blessing.
Once again to echo the words of Pope Francis, “Who am I to judge?”
In my capacity as a bishop, I have no powers to judge anyone. I am not God.
Abel Gabuza Bishop of Kimberley