South African Cardinal prioritizes healing wounds of apartheid

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Stephen Brislin is the sole cardinal from South Africa who will be eligible to elect the next pope—something he personally never imagined.

Archdiocese of Cape Town, South Africa

I think, as has been reported in some of the media, the words I used were bewildered and confused. And that certainly is how I felt. I had no warning at all that this was going to happen.
I'm very fortunate that I know some of the newly elected cardinals as well, newly appointed. So that helps as well to actually know somebody in the College of Cardinals. So I am much more at peace with it a the moment.

With his nomination to join the other 241 cardinals, the make-up of the College expands beyond European borders even further. Since Francis' election 10 years ago, the number of cardinals in Asia, Latin-America and Sub-Saharan Africa has increased exponentially. On the contrary, the percentage of European cardinals has decreased by 13%.

Archdiocese of Cape Town, South Africa

I think Pope Francis has really tried for this, of getting universality of the Church well represented in the College of Cardinals.
But is a person who is living in Bornia, for example, any less of a Christian as a person living in Germany or something like that? So I think that this is an attempt of the Holy Father to overcome those sort of perceptions of we've got a center, which is basically a Western center, if you like, and then you've got the peripheries.

According to the Cardinal, the goal of the upcoming phase of the Synod on Synodality is not to change doctrine or Church teaching. Its true goal is to dive more deeply into the nature of the Church.

Archdiocese of Cape Town, South Africa

There are a lot of misunderstandings about what the Pope is trying to do. And I think that it's problematic because he is very determined to say that it is not about pushing your own ideology or in forcing your ideas on other people. It's about discernment; it's about listening. It's about trying to see what is the way forward together as Pope, cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and people. That we are all one.

Catholics make up about 6% of the population of South Africa. Though it is a small community, Cardinal Brislin says the Catholic Church's relationship with other religious denominations has helped bring people together and heal the wounds of apartheid.

Archdiocese of Cape Town, South Africa

We have good relationships with other faiths and other Christian denominations and we do try to work together.
Because all the problems we are experiencing is because of a spiritual and ethical vacuum and that is where the churches and different faiths must come in to re-establish that.

Cardinal Brislin says these relationships continue to be seen as a beacon of hope for the people of South Africa in ending discrimination and division and working towards reconciliation.


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