Paul Samasumo – Vatican City
Bishop Sipuka made the remarks during his opening address to the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference Plenary Session in Pretoria, this week.
Becoming Missionary Disciples of Christ
“Broadly explained, the Pastoral Plan has two aspects, first, the facilitation of personal relationship with Christ from which follows the second one, which is being Missionary Disciples of Christ. Put differently it is about an evangelised community that in its turn evangelises,” said Bishop Sipuka.
Bishops want to encourage the growth of faith
Bishop Sipuka said it is the wish of the Bishops’ Conference to encourage growth in the faith and spirituality of the faithful. Furthermore, the Bishops want to see a Church that is salt and leaven of society –a Church that becomes more relevant to the society it serves. In a blunt assessment, the Bishop called for more self-examination.
“With regard to witnessing for Christ and continuing the work of evangelisation, the majority of our Catholics do not see these as their task. They tend to see themselves more as there to be serviced by the Church, to be served sacraments, to be preached to and to be buried. The most they do is to fulfil the obligation of supporting the Church financially, and some of them do so grudgingly because they have no sense about the missionary nature of the Church which requires resources in order to do this missionary work,” observed the Bishop of Mthatha.
A changed social context
Southern African Bishops are also aware of the bigger context in which the Church operates. They say that with time, the Church has to contend with a changed cultural and social context.
In part the new Pastoral Plan is also in response to Pope Francis’ missionary plea that all the faithful, without exception, are “Baptised and Sent.”