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From clericalism and passivity to conscious stewardship: towards responsible discipleship of the laity of the Catholic Church of Southern Africa.

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Jesus instructed His followers to love one another as He loved them. He said they should not lord it over each other like the pagans do (cf. Matt.20:25) but to serve each other as He served. The church of the Acts of the Apostles is egalitarian. It is a community of disciples (cf. Acts 2:42-47). It is the Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor:12). The different functions of different members are not intended to divide but to build unity. By the end of the 1st century, this one Body of Christ had become divided into a privileged, clerical elite and an inferior laity. In 1156, Gratian’s decree said that there are two types of Christians, and in 1906 Pope Pius X said that all Christians are not equal. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) spoke of the Church in terms of the Old Testament image of People of God and the Pauline image of the Body of Christ. It says that the Church as Communion had its origin in the Holy Trinity, the ultimate communion of love. The Church is an icon of the Trinity. In that Church, all are equal, all are called to be holy, all share in the one priesthood of Christ, all are responsible for the Church’s mission. The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) embarked on a variety of pastoral programmes to ensure that the Vatican II model of Church would become embedded in the life of the local Church in its thinking and practice. A study of the archives indicated that these met with limited success. This thesis proposes Stewardship as a way to live the Vatican II Community model of Church. God Himself is the Steward of all creation. Man and woman were told to care for this creation in His name (cf. Gen.2:15). As Son of God Jesus is the Sacrament of God’s presence. He gives the Stewardship of God a human face. The Church is the Sacrament of Christ, making Christ present for all time. The Church does not have an option to choose or reject Stewardship. It flows from its nature.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.