At this joyous time of Christmas the St. George’s Cathedral, the Claremont Main Road Mosque and the Institute for the Healing of Memories wishes to acknowledge the many wonderful achievements and gifts of our beloved country. In particular, we express our profound gratitude for the wonderful interreligious harmony, coexistence and good relations between people of different faith traditions and those of none that we enjoy in South Africa.
We have been blessed with one of the most vibrant interfaith movements in the world. This great accomplishment has not come about by chance, but is the fruits of labour by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu, who planted its seeds in 1983 when he initiated the South African chapter of the World Conference on Religions for Peace (WCRP). This was the religious formation that represented the interreligious component of the anti-apartheid movement.
Inspired by the resplendent example of Archbishop Tutu, the South African interfaith movement has eschewed the role adopted by many religious leaders, namely that of either ignoring issues of social justice or being sycophants, groveling at the feet of political leaders. We modeled and embodied what the Kairos Document produced by anti-apartheid theologians in 1985 called prophetic theology i.e. speaking truth to power.
In this vein, we commend and give thanks to the students, workers and ordinary citizens, who this year especially re-awakened a spirit of activism that seeks to disrupt complacency with worsening poverty and inequality in our country, and the ongoing scourge of corruption and gender-based violence that threatens the very fabric of our society. We pray for leaders of this country to fashion a more just and equitable society in which all people can thrive and live with dignity.
At this blessed time of Christmas we give thanks for the lifelong witness to a path of peace rooted in justice by Archbishop Emeritus Father Tutu and we pledge to continue to live up to his great legacy of interfaith solidarity and prophetic witness and to continue to make it a special part of the fabric of South African society. We pray that the Arch enjoys better health in the New Year and that he continues to bless us with his graceful presence, advice and prayers.
During this hallowed time, we pray that the Grace of God be with us, and that we are all inspired to use the highest aspirations of our spiritual traditions to attain social justice, to redouble our efforts in the struggle for dignity for all in our country and to strive for even greater harmonious relations between Muslims, Christians, people of faith and of none.
We pray that the New Year bring healing and peace to our suffering world and that we continue to strive towards the ideals of truth, justice and equality.
We wish you all a spiritually rejuvenating Christmas and a fruitful and productive New Year.
The Very Reverend Michael Weeder, Dean of St. Georges Cathedral, Dr. A. Rashied Omar, Imam of the Claremont Main Road Mosque and Reverend Michael Lapsley, SSM, Director of the Institute for the Healing of Memories.