Monday, October 26, 2020
25.5 C
Home Church WATCH — Secretary-General to bishops: 'Please stop talking but act'

WATCH — Secretary-General to bishops: ‘Please stop talking but act’

An exclusive interview for with Sr Hermenegild Makoro CPS, by Ricardo da Silva SJ.

“Please stop talking but act!” These were the clearly pained words of Sr Hermenegild Makoro CPS, the secretary-general of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, who serves on the special commission set up by the Pope to address sexual abuse in the worldwide Catholic Church.

In an exclusive interview with, Makoro was emphatic in stressing that policies and protocols alone “won’t help us” when it comes to dealing definitely with sexual abuse in the Church. This “has penetrated the heart of the Church”, she said.

She called all those who had at any time suffered abuse to “Come forward, so that you can be helped”, making an impassioned plea to Church leaders and institutions: “Let’s open our house (and) make it a safe space where people (those sexually abused by clergy) can come and share the pain that we are carrying.”

Makoro admitted that in the earlier stages of the Church’s reckoning with the sexual abuse of minors by priests, they had been focused on accountability. There was a need to admit that “things were not followed well, processes were not followed — and people were not listened to” or believed, she explained.

This aspect of accountability was very much at the fore for bishop-presidents gathered at the recent meeting held at the Vatican. They themselves admitted this, as she paraphrased the bishops’ own words, in the synod hall: “‘We are wrong.’ …  ‘we don’t do our duty.’ … ‘we don’t do what we are supposed to be doing.’”

For Makoro, important as it is to establish mechanisms for accountability, guidelines and procedures for dealing with the aftermath of abuse, such as we have done, it is now time to take seriously the call to real action.

People are angry and hurting, she said. And we cannot say: “‘Okay, it’s (sexual abuse) a mistake’… What mistake?”, she exclaimed, in seeming rhetorical fashion. 

But — replying almost immediately — so as not to leave anything to chance, she said: “Bishops need to act. If a priest has done something it must be acted upon!”

WATCH the full interview with Hermenegild Makoro CPS, secretary-general of the SACBC

* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Ricardo da Silva SJ
Ricardo is a member of the South African region of the Jesuits and an ordained deacon of the Roman Catholic Church. In 2020, he received a master's degree in journalism from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, New York, where he was an African Pulitzer Fellow and reported on religion, mental health, housing and other social injustices. Before moving to the U.S.A., Ricardo served as acting editor of and was on the team at Jesuit Institute South Africa. His preparation for ministry as a Jesuit has taken him to study theology in Brazil, philosophy in the U.K and brief working stints in Zimbabwe and Spain. As a Jesuit, he has ministered to refugees, migrants, people experiencing street homelessness, young adults, seminarians, the elderly, and high school and university students, staff and faculty. Before entering religious life in 2007, Ricardo worked in marketing, communications, and brand management before joining the Jesuits in 2007. Ricardo holds dual citizenship, having emigrated from Portugal to South Africa at the age of six with his mother.

Most Popular

Pope announces a consistory for the creation of 13 new cardinals

During the Angelus on Sunday, 25 October 2020, Pope Francis announced that he was going to create 13 new cardinals. Vatican News...

School culture at the heart of shaping new education futures

In a previous article, Mark Potterton described the educational potential of technology but cautioned against reducing learning to an online experience. In...

“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family… nobody should be thrown out,” says Pope Francis

Pope Francis is in the headlines again after a documentary film by the Russian Jew, Evgeny Afineevsky, was premiered at the Rome...

Getting back to normal — Is it even possible?

The world has changed dramatically in less than a year. Shrikant Peters looks beyond the immediate health crisis and examines the impact...