South African Bishops protest at 'scandalous behaviour' of president

The Bishops of South Africa  have expressed their “strongest concern of the scandalous behavior of leaders who shamelessly flout the norms of morality and decency, accepted and expected by the vast majority of people” - in a statement signed on behalf of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) by Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Archbishop of Durban. 

The document continues: “In particular we deplore the attempts to excuse or even defend bad moral behaviour in the name of ‘culture.' Basing our stance on the clear teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ regarding relations between men and women, both married and unmarried, we call on all leaders to recommit themselves to being worthy role models for the youth and children of the nation.”

The statement has been published following the revelation that South African President Jacob Zuma, polygamist and adherent to Zulu tradition, has had a son out of wedlock. Zuma, age 67, last month was married for the fifth time and now has three 'legitimate' wives. His most recently born son was born as a result of his relationship with the daughter of Irvin Khoza, President of the Organizational Committee for the World Cup scheduled to take place this June. The South African President, now the father of 19 legitimate children, has acknowledged his 20th son by paying “Inhlawulo,” the traditional recompense to the Khoza family.

Zuma has asked for pardon and affirms that “I deeply regret the pain that I have caused to my family, the ANC (African National Congress), the alliance, and South Africans in general” and reiterated the “importance of the family as an institution.” Recently, at the international forum in Davos, Switzerland, Zuma defended polygamy and stated: “Some thinkthat their culture is superior to others, that's a problem we have in the world.” 

However, the President's excuses are not enough, the Catholic Bishops say: “While we note President Zuma's expression of regret for engaging in 'unprotected sex,'  we are nonetheless appalled that for the second time in as many years he does not express regret or show remorse for his adultery. We are equally appalled that irreparable damage that such immorality has done to the nation's efforts to slow down or even to reverse the rampant spread of HIV and AIDS.”

“Therefore we call on the whole Church community to fulfil its vocation and mission to bear witness to Christ's life and teaching by rejecting all immoral behaviour, especially sexual immorality and instead commit itself to keeping the Maker's instructions for a sound and healthy society,” the statement concludes.

Source: Fides

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