Church bris­tles as ANC heav­ies seek its bless­ing

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By QAANITAH HUNTER

for a con­fer­ence hosted by the Cen­tre for Child Pro­tec­tion at the Pon­tif­i­cal Gre­go­rian Univer­sity. Dlamini-Zuma chaired a ses­sion on in­ter­net pornog­ra­phy and its ef­fect on chil­dren, af­ter which del­e­gates had an au­di­ence with Pope Fran­cis.

Arch­bishop Stephen Bris­lin, president of

The ANC’s suc­ces­sion con­test has caused ten­sion in the Catholic Church as hope­fuls turn to the church for sup­port.

Bish­ops in KwaZulu-Na­tal are to hold a meet­ing next Sun­day to dis­cuss whether the church should pro­vide a plat­form to ANC politi­cians.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa have both taken their cam­paigns to churches.

Car­di­nal Wil­frid Napier this week told the Sun­day Times that the meet­ing was to dis­cuss whether bish­ops should al­low po­lit­i­cal cam­paign­ing in their churches.

“For us, no politi­cians should be given a plat­form to speak at a re­li­gious func­tion,” said Napier.

The sup­posed in­volve­ment of sec­tions of the church in pro­mot­ing cer­tain ANC pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates came un­der the spot­light this week fol­low­ing Dlamini-Zuma’s trip to the Vat­i­can where, on Fri­day, she had an au­di­ence with Pope Fran­cis.

Dlamini-Zuma ar­rived in Rome on Tues­day

the South­ern African Catholic Bish­ops Con­fer­ence, said the body had noth­ing to do with Dlamini-Zuma’s trip, which had been or­gan­ised when she was still chair­woman of the AU Com­mis­sion.

Dlamini-Zuma’s term at the com­mis­sion ended eight months ago.

“This should not be seen as an en­dorse­ment by the church,” Bris­lin said.

Napier said Dlamini-Zuma’s trip to the Vat­i­can was “not in­dica­tive that she has the sup­port of the church”.

Bish­ops first be­came con­cerned about the is­sue in May, when a ser­vice at St Cather­ine’s Ro­man Church in Bul­wer‚ Dlamini-Zuma’s birth­place, turned into an en­dorse­ment of her.

She at­tended the ser­vice along­side President Ja­cob Zuma, who has en­dorsed her as his suc­ces­sor.

This is said to have raised the ire of some bish­ops be­cause of the “dis­re­spect” of some ri­tu­als as a re­sult of Zuma’s pres­ence.

In July, Dlamini-Zuma at­tended a ser­vice at the Catholic Church in Mar­i­annhill, west of Dur­ban, where she spoke about the ANC pres­i­den­tial race and told con­gre­gants it was time for a woman to be in charge of the coun­try.

Bishop Mlungisi Pius Dlung­wane, of Mar­i­annhill, was crit­i­cised for giv­ing Dlamini-Zuma a plat­form to cam­paign.

He told the Sun­day Times yes­ter­day that Dlamini-Zuma’s pres­ence at the church was noth­ing ex­tra­or­di­nary.

“We in­vite many peo­ple to the church — some are politi­cians and some have noth­ing to do with the church,” Dlung­wane said.

He has drawn harsh crit­i­cism in the past for ac­cept­ing R500 000 from the Ja­cob Zuma Foun­da­tion to go to­wards a new Zulu trans­la­tion of the Bi­ble.

“Some peo­ple were con­cerned be­cause they saw it as pro­pa­ganda be­cause it was around the elec­tions. There was noth­ing like that,” Dlung­wane said.

The bishop is a known Zuma as­so­ci­ate, but he said he had no re­la­tion­ship with the president other than be­ing dis­tant fam­ily.

“My mother is maZuma but it is dis­tant fam­ily, that’s all,” he said.

Ramaphosa, too, caused con­tro­versy last month when he ad­dressed a ser­vice at the Catholic Church in Jan Kem­p­dorp in the North­ern Cape.

He was ac­cused of “po­lit­i­cally hi­jack­ing” the ser­vice, be­cause he was ac­com­pa­nied by many sup­port­ers in ANC re­galia.

Bris­lin said the Bish­ops Con­fer­ence had not, and would not, en­dorse any can­di­date.

“We main­tain that the Catholic Church in South­ern Africa will not en­dorse any can­di­date,” he said.

Bris­lin said he was aware of dis­con­tent. The church could not stop any­one from at­tend­ing ser­vices, but this should not be mis­con­strued as po­lit­i­cal en­dorse­ment, he said.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, left, and Cyril Ramaphosa.

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