Monday, 21 November 2011

Reluctance of the church to apartheid

Demonstration in April 1960 in Johannesburg after the massacre at
Sharpeville, which has killed at the South African apartheid police on
21.3.1960 69 people.

The Catholic Church of Switzerland has long dealt with the topic
reluctant apartheid in South Africa. She should have more basic and
less committed to listening to the business community, it is said in a
report by Justitia et Pax.

In the 70s and early 80s have prevailed in the Catholic Church a
"cautious and more reluctant attitude towards the issue of South
Africa and apartheid." The church authorities have often responded
with defense and delay claims, become increasingly active against
apartheid, it is stated in the study "The Catholic Church in
Switzerland and their attitude to apartheid in South Africa
(1970-1990)". It was created on behalf of the National Justice and
Peace Commission of the Swiss Bishops' Conference (SBK).

"The attitude of the church leadership, the situation in the former
Swiss society reflects," says historian Bruno Soliva, co-author of the
study, told "The Catholic Church was strongly anchored in the
middle-class milieu, especially the church leadership was associated
with the middle class and whose interests, supported in part

From 1980, there have also been a recent trend in the Catholic church
toward more conservatism, "also by the Polish Pope John Paul II," says
the historian. "This has strengthened the position of those groups who
feared a communist takeover in South Africa."

"The attitude of the church leadership, the situation in the former
Swiss society has reflected."
Bruno Soliva, historian
Brakeman role of CVP

Braking was also the subject of apartheid, the Christian Democratic
People's Party (CVP) acted, rejected the boycott measures against
South Africa. Whether the party took control of the church leadership
was to prove difficult, says Soliva. For this there is less written
sources as oral statements from witnesses.

"There were meetings between the Church and the Christian Democrats,
but rarely the subject of South Africa was also discussed. The
political center in Switzerland dealt only marginally with apartheid.
This was partly an issue for the Social Democrats, pleading for
sanctions, on the other hand, for the right wing of the Liberal
Democratic Party (FDP) and the Swiss People's Party (SVP), the
opponents of sanctions were. "

CVP MPs were indeed often represented on the boards of large-or
medium-sized banks. CVP politicians have also existed in bank
management, "where there were mainly FDP people."

Influence of industry representatives

Bishops were not interested in economic issues, but influenced by
industry representatives or officials of the Federal service the
business has been, says Soliva. "Particularly effective business
representatives could influence the Catholic Church, when they warned
of a communist revolution in South Africa."

But the banks and business representatives have probably had more
influence on the Protestant as the Catholic Church. "This has to do
with the fact that at that time, the entrepreneurs and bankers, albeit
from the Reformed Church came. The Catholic Church had on the basis of
her social doctrine neoliberalism refuse actually. There was, however,
both churches more of a distrust of the business community. But they
wanted to not spoil it with them. "

"Particularly effective business representatives could influence the
Catholic Church, when they warned of a communist revolution in South
Bruno Soliva, historian

The churches as a whole had been under less pressure from business
leaders and civic circles rather than the Church's Lenten charities
(Catholic) and Bread for All (then bread for brothers, Protestant),
the historian.

Anti-Communist environment

The theme of apartheid in South Africa had been discussed in an
international anti-communist environment. "Yet there was also an
elder, 'philosophical' anticommunism, which was maintained in the
Catholic Church continues. And the resulting liberation theology in
Latin America did not trust the church leaders who suspected she was
undermining socialist," said Soliva.

At the same time the church has also bowed to the criticism of
conservative legal groups. "They responded ambivalent. They always
represented the attitude that human rights must be defended But when
it came to step boldly to the public and support as well as economic
sanctions against the apartheid regime, had been afraid of conflict."

"They wanted to avoid these conflicts and often has nothing or just underused."
Bruno Soliva, historian
Dedicated base

The Catholic Church leadership was overwhelmed, says the historian.
"They wanted to avoid these conflicts and often has simply nothing or
underused. Decisive role in ensuring that the apartheid in
ecclesiastical circles was a major issue yet, had grassroots church
groups chrétienne such as the Jeunesse étudiante (JEC) and the Working
Group Kairos of Movement for Solidarity and Liberation Theology. "

A little more commitment and determination of the Swiss Catholic
Church leadership would have on their commitment to human dignity and
the rights of all people in South Africa in retrospect the credibility
of the Catholic Church leadership served on these issues, stresses the
co-author of the Justice and Peace Report.

And the study concludes with the following finding: "The church
leadership would have done well if she had formerly taken the votes of
the committed base and experienced members of missionary societies and
serious note of human rights issues beyond stereotyped political
left-right scheme, and consideration for acquisitions are in danger.
to be overtaken by history.

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