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Mercy and Reconciliation-Healing a Hurting Nation

5 May 2017

South Africa

The headlines in the South African newspapers can be very depressing and disheartening. We begin to wonder why so many are involved in crime of one kind or another – corruption, theft, assault, hi-jacking, murder, rape - the list seems endless.

We ask ourselves: What has gone wrong? Is there any hope for our country? Do we just give in and do nothing? It is a relief then to find groups of people and individuals who are really aware of their responsibility and are doing what they can to promote harmony in their areas.


                   Young Students Pray together during November 2016 Riots

In 2005, the Roman Catholic Church in Pretoria held a synod and one of the urgent issues that emerged from the discussions was the need for reconciliation among South Africans who had been greatly affected by ‘apartheid’ and the unjust laws of the past. The Reconciliation Forum was set up and each deanery sent representatives to serve on the Forum and to be trained in the skills necessary to bring about reconciliation in the local areas.


                                Reconciliation is everyone's responsiblity

One such person, who has belonged to the Forum since the beginning, is Christinah Mokgopa. She continues to amaze us by her work for reconciliation which she regards as part of her daily life. She lives in a poor area outside Pretoria. In spite of her own very limited circumstances, she sees to it that some thirty children get a meal every day when they come home from school.

There have been a number of incidents where she has intervened to solve problems arising from gang activities in the local school. To add to this, she has organised a group of her neighbours to bring food to the drug addicts in the local park, sit down with them and listen to their stories.

Her most recent ‘achievement’ involved stopping a man from killing his son. This man had, after many years, decided that the only solution to his son’s drug addiction was to kill him. He was fully aware of the consequences of his action – a long term in prison. However, he regarded this as better than watching the young man destroying himself and causing misery and suffering to his family and others around him.

Christinah enrolled the help of a social worker and together they persuaded the father to change his mind and his son to go to a rehabilitation centre.
Some members of the Forum offer support to police officers who work under stressful conditions, while others visit patients in the local hospitals and help them, where necessary, to become reconciled with God and, in many cases, with family members who have become estranged over the years.

Our people carry so many hurts resulting from injustices going back many years to a time of legalised oppression. The only way to heal is to help one person at a time.


             Archbishop Tutu -An advocate of Reconciliation for many years

Immaculata Devine rsm
Coordinator of the Reconciliation Forum
South African Province

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