Together We, in the Diversity and Richness of Many Charisms, Spread the Good News.

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Archbishop S. Brislin – SACBC President

In his homily during the opening of the Joint Witness Meeting, His Grace Archbishop Stephen Brislin, the President of SACBC emphasized the importance of unity in diversity in proclaiming the Gospel of the Lord. He said that diversity and richness of many charisms are the source of success in spreading the Good News.

Joint Witness is the meeting of Leadership Conference of Consecrated Life (LCCL) and the Bishops of Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC).  The meeting normally comes once in every three years.  It is a platform whereby the two conferences discuss the issues affecting the  local church and the society at large. The problems of Human Trafficking and Migrants and Refugees were some the topics on the top agenda of the discussions during the Joint Witness meeting 2017. Read the rest of Together We, in the Diversity and Richness of Many Charisms, Spread the Good News. »

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The Kind of Bread and Wine to be Used During Mass

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Full Text: Circular letter to Bishops on the bread and wine for the Eucharist

Circular letter to Bishops on the bread and wine for the Eucharist
1. At the request of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is writing to Diocesan Bishops (and to those who are their equivalents in law) to remind them that it falls to them above all to duly provide for all that is required for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (cf. Lk 22: 8,13). It is for the Bishop as principal dispenser of the mysteries of God, moderator, promoter and guardian of the liturgical life in the Church entrusted to his care (Cf. CIC can. 835 § 1), to watch over the quality of the bread and wine to be used at the Eucharist and also those who prepare these materials. In order to be of assistance we recall the existing regulations and offer some practical suggestions.
2. Until recently it was certain religious communities who took care of baking the bread and making the wine for the celebration of the Eucharist. Today, however, these materials are also sold in supermarkets and other stores and even over the internet. In order to remove any doubt about the validity of the matter for the Eucharist, this Dicastery suggests that Ordinaries should give
guidance in this regard by, for example, guaranteeing the Eucharistic matter through special certification.
The Ordinary is bound to remind priests, especially parish priests and rectors of churches, of their responsibility to verify those who provide the bread and wine for the celebration and the worthiness of the material. It is also for the Ordinary to provide information to the producers of the bread and wine for the Eucharist and to remind them of the absolute respect that is due to the norms.
3. The norms about the Eucharistic matter are given in can. 924 of the CIC and in numbers 319 – 323 of the Institutio generalis Missalis Romani and have already been explained in the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum issued by this Congregation (25 March 2004):
a) “The bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition. It follows therefore that bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament. It is a grave abuse to introduce other substances, such as fruit or sugar or honey, into the bread for confecting the Eucharist. Hosts should obviously be made by those who are not only distinguished by their integrity, but also skilled in making them and furnished with suitable tools” (n. 48).
b) “The wine that is used in the most sacred celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances. […] Great care should be taken so that the wine intended for the celebration of the Eucharist is well conserved and has not soured. It is altogether forbidden to use wine of doubtful authenticity or provenance, for the Church requires certainty regarding the conditions necessary for the validity of the sacraments. Nor are other drinks of any kind to be admitted for any reason, as they do not constitute valid matter” (n. 50).
4. In its Circular Letter to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences regarding legitimate variations in the use of bread with a small quantity of gluten and the use of mustum as  Eucharistic matter (24 July 2003, Prot. N. 89/78 – 17498), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published the norms for the celebration of the Eucharist by persons who, for varying and grave reasons, cannot consume bread made in the usual manner nor wine fermented in the normal manner:
a) “Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist. Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread” (A. 1-2).
b) “Mustum, which is grape juice that is either fresh or preserved by methods that suspend its fermentation without altering its nature (for example, freezing), is valid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist” (A. 3).
c) “The Ordinary is competent to give permission for an individual priest or layperson to use low-gluten hosts or mustum for the celebration of the Eucharist. Permission can be  granted habitually, for as long as the situation continues which occasioned the granting of permission” (C. 1).
5. The same Congregation also decided that Eucharistic matter made with genetically modified organisms can be considered valid matter (cf. Letter to the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 9 December 2013, Prot. N. 89/78 – 44897).
6. Those who make bread and produce wine for use in the Mass must be aware that their work is directed towards the Eucharistic Sacrifice and that this demands their honesty, responsibility and competence.
7. In order to facilitate the observance of the general norms Ordinaries can usefully reach agreement at the level of the Episcopal Conference by establishing concrete regulations. Given the complexity of situations and circumstances, such as a decrease in respect for the sacred, it may be useful to mandate a competent authority to have oversight in actually guaranteeing the genuineness of the Eucharistic matter by producers as well as those responsible for its distribution and sale.
It is suggested, for example, that an Episcopal Conference could mandate one or more Religious Congregations or another body capable of carrying out the necessary checks on production, conservation and sale of the Eucharistic bread and wine in a given country and for other countries to which they are exported. It is recommended that the bread and wine to be used in the Eucharist be treated accordingly in the places where they are sold.
From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 15 June 2017, Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
Robert Card. Sarah, Prefect
Arthur Roche, Archbishop Secretary
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SACBC Again! Hurry Up And Snatch This Job Opportunity. Time is Limited

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Be the first one to grab it before it is too late.  Competition is too high.

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SACBC Offers You Another Job Opportunity

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Be the first one to snatch it.

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SACBC Inaugurates Bicentennial Year of Catholicism

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Archbishop Stephen Brislin – SACBC President



In today’s Gospel Jesus offers words of consolation and encouragement to his disciples. He says to them: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul: rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs on your head are numbered. Fear not, therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows”.

These words, together with many other passages from the Scriptures, must have been of enormous comfort to our foremothers and forefathers who embarked on the perilous journeys to proclaim the Gospel and to establish the Church in an unknown and untested place. These were men and women of great courage, committed resolve and a sincere love of God and the message entrusted to them by Christ. They were, undoubtedly, saints and sinners, those who did good and those who sinned and made mistakes. A great tragedy of much of history is that we lose the personal stories and anecdotes that give life to historical facts. Today, we remember them all and give thanks to God for them, for without them we would not be here today. Whatever their weaknesses and the mistakes they made, the faith has spread to every corner of the countries of our region, and the faith is alive and growing. The history of the Catholic Church, tainted as it may be with intentional or unintentional collusion with colonialism and apartheid, discrimination and sex abuse cases, has nonetheless, through the strength of Christ, brought life and hope, not only to ourselves but to Southern Africa.

We embark on the bi-centennial celebration of the establishment of the Vicariate of the Cape of Good Hope, the official establishment of the Church, initially in Cape Town, but from this place spreading north, west and east. We have much to be grateful for. The first missionaries who arrived, primarily intent on ministering to Catholic colonialists and soldiers, soon took the Gospel to indigenous peoples, to the oppressed and indigent – the very peripheries that Pope Francis frequently talks of. To establish the Church and spread the faith, also meant to provide education, training and medical care and through much pain, anxiety and self-sacrifice many educational and medical facilities were established that developed and gave hope to millions over the course of these 200 years. In latter years, through circumstances – not least the decrease in vocations to priesthood and consecrated life – many of these facilities have had to close or be given over to government and other bodies. For those who may think of a past “golden age” this might seem as a sign of failure or a crisis in the sense of devastation. As sad as such closures may be, in many respects, it is more a crisis of new opportunities, of change, for we are a people of hope, knowing that Christ is with us until the end of days.

For, as important as such institutions are, and as important as the role they played and continue to play, as much as we need them, the truth is that institutions are both a blessing and a potential danger. They are a source of blessing as they have provided educational and health benefits to so many, they have established dedicated places of worship – they have changed lives for the better, and provided a means for evangelization. But they also demand time, maintenance, management, leading us away from the mission given to us by Jesus at the time of his Ascension, to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:9). They can lull us into a sense of comfort and satisfaction, perhaps even leading us into believing “this is the Church” – that institutions are the end rather than the means, and to devote all our energy to preserve them no matter what.

The biggest danger lies within ourselves if we develop an institutional attitude and begin to treat people in an institutionalized way. A characteristic of our times, most especially in large urban areas, is anonymity. Not only is there the loneliness of urban life that Pope Francis has spoken of frequently, but people are dealt with in a way that makes them feel stripped of personality and dignity. Whether it is automated responses to telephone enquiries, being boxed into a computer profile that prohibits you from, for example, receiving a bank loan or simply the disinterest we so often experience when seeking assistance, people are made to feel as a mere number, one among millions of others, who are obliged to “fit into” the system. The system is paramount, not the person. As the Holy Father has said, “We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power” (EG 52). And yet Christ reminds us that sparrows may be sold two for a penny, but we are more valuable to the extent that every hair on our head is counted. Christ transforms the hearts of people through a personal encounter, by his merciful and generous forgiveness, his tenderness in dealing with the broken, the humble and the poor. As we recall our mission to evangelize it is Christ whom we model ourselves on Christ who treated every person as a person, with humanity and kindness. It is intrinsic to our faith to value human life.

Remembering the past, we turn to the future. To paraphrase what Pope Francis said at the beginning of the Year of Consecrated Life, we look to the past with gratitude, we live the present with passion and we embrace the future with hope. We know that the task to evangelize is urgent and must be embraced with passion. In the words of the Holy Father, “Go out. Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers and sisters, go out and share, go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit”. The frontiers have changed – no longer do we need to travel on long and dangerous journeys to other continents and peoples, but we turn to our own brothers and sisters, perhaps tired in the faith, perhaps having abandoned the faith. Our proclamation of faith is not so much as to win converts, as to open hearts to Christ and his salvific message, to transform our society in the image of Christ. And so the new frontiers become the spheres of life that influence and shape our societies, that can either liberate and enhance human life or can limit and de-humanize people. Not only do we witness to Christ in the public square, but we Christianize the spheres of politics, economics, education – the very culture of our society. There is much good in all these spheres, but there is also much that is evil and that destroys. Certainly, the prophetic voice of the Church must be heard loudly as we oppose violence in all its many forms – the violence of blood-shedding, the violence of poverty and the structures that entrench poverty, violence against the environment, the culture of death, of greed and corruption. The prophetic voice is not a voice that seeks popularity from any quarter – it seeks only truth and that which can bring about goodness.

Yet, as much as that voice may be needed, it is insufficient for evangelization and transformation of hearts. The kindness and encouragement of mercy, healing and reconciliation is intrinsic to Christ. Blessed Oscar Romero put it this way: “Let us not tire of preaching love; it is the force that will overcome the world. Let us not tire of preaching love. Though we see that waves of violence succeed in drowning the fire of Christian love, love must win out; it is the only thing that can”. As St Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians, it is in “speaking the truth in love” that we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ (Eph 4:15). Pope Francis repeatedly calls the Church to mercy – the very essence of the Gospel – and proclaimed last year the Year of Mercy. It is to the suffering that we must turn – in the words once again of Blessed Oscar Romero, “We must not seek the child Jesus in the pretty figures of our Christmas cribs. We must seek him among the undernourished children who have gone to bed at night with nothing to eat, among the poor newsboys who will sleep covered with newspapers in doorways”.

But it is not only the physical poverty that calls to us, it is the cry of those in despair, in doubt and confusion, beset with anxiety or lack of purpose, those who are searching and seeking for truth. It is the cry of the lonely, the sick, the mentally challenged. It is the cry of humanity, thirsting for truth and for love.

We cannot treat people anonymously, or in a distant, cold and “institutionalized” manner. We cannot neglect to respond to the cries we hear because those calling are sinners or outcasts. The response we make is not from superiority or arrogance, from a triumphalistic Church. It is from humility that we offer the refreshing water we have received from Christ to those who are thirsty. The bread we offer to the poor man is not our bread, but bread we have received from Christ and which we share with him. Our evangelization is not from a certainty that we have all the answers and know what is right in every situation. We evangelize through sharing our own lives, our stories, our happinesses, struggles and weakness, for we are but fellow-pilgrims journeying together to the Promised Land. In Christ, the Church has the fullness of truth, but in our humanity we have only poverty. “If one has the answers to all the questions”, says Pope Francis, “that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble”. Our words of preaching are empty without the witness of our actions of compassion and mercy, and even our acknowledgment of uncertainty.

So, as we live the present with passion we also embrace the future with hope. We learn from the missionaries who brought the faith to the southern tip of Africa – the daunting task they faced did not deter them from setting out. It would be easy for us, as we face the myriad problems and uncertainties of our countries and the modern world, to find the task at hand too much, impossible and overwhelming. And yet, the evidence not only of the past but of the present, the evidence of a faith that is alive, of a growing and thriving Church, the evidence of the commitment, dedication and love of the modern day disciples, is ample testimony of the activity of the Holy Spirit and Christ’s abiding presence among his people. As for ourselves, we are to remain faithful always to Christ, not allowing ourselves, in the words of the First Reading, to be “seduced into error” by systems, structures, ideologies or cultures that do not belong to him. We do not preach ourselves, our ideologies, visions or thoughts. We preach only Christ and the fruitfulness of the mission, and our very salvation lies in our ability to be faithful to who Christ is and what he taught us. In the words of St Paul, “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor 4:5).

Homily by Archbishop Stephen Brislin – President of Southern Africa Catholic Bishop’s Conference (SACBC).


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