At the annual August plenary of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’, taking place in Mariannhill, KwaZulu Natal, the bishop of the diocese of Mthatha, Sithembele Sipuka was elected president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC).
On Saturday morning, 04 August 2018, at the bishops’ plenary meeting in Marianhill, KwaZulu Natal, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka was elected president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference. He will succeed Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town who has served as the leader of the conference since February 2013.
Sipuka is currently the 1st vice president of the Conference so he is familiar with the inner workings of the SACBC. He is well known in the African Catholic world where he serves as the 2nd vice president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), who celebrate their golden jubilee this year. He is also the representative for the Inter-regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) in SECAM.
Sipuka was ordained a priest in 1988 and ordained the bishop of Mthatha in 2008. He served on the staff of St Peter’s Seminary in Pretoria and, later, was rector of the national seminary, St John Vianney in Pretoria. He holds a PhD in Systematic Theology from the University of South Africa (UNISA) entitled The sacrifice of the Mass and the concept of sacrifice among the Xhosa: towards an inculturated understanding of the Eucharist.
The bishops also elected the other members that will form the so-called “troika” for the conference. All three bishops were previous seminary rectors.
Bishop Dabula Mpako of the Diocese of Queenstown will serve as 1st vice-president and Bishop Graham Rose of the Diocese of Dundee has been elected 2nd vice president.
The elections for other office bearers will be held in February 2019, when Sipuka is due to take over officially from Brislin, who will, until then, continue to serve as the SACBC President.
This is a developing story and will be updated. In the meantime listen to Spotlight.Africa editor-in-chief’s interview with Bishop Sipuka at the January 2018 plenary, earlier this year. The full story can also be read here.
Images: Facebook and Twitter / Bishop José Luís Ponce de León