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Archbishop of Cape Town backs mandatory vaccination of clergy

24 September 2021

XINHUA/ALAMY

Spectators applaud musicians of Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra during an outdoor “Concert of Gratitude” at Groote Schuur hospital, Cape Town, in appreciation of frontline healthcare workers nationwide, last week

Spectators applaud musicians of Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra during an outdoor “Concert of Gratitude” at Groote Schuur hospital, Cape Town, in app...

THE Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, has backed mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for the clergy.

“In the Church, there is a strong case for clergy to be vaccinated, because we are necessarily near other people, we visit vulnerable people to provide pastoral care, and numbers of people in our congregations are vulnerable by virtue of age or co-morbidities,” he said on Tuesday.

He was delivering his opening-service charge to the Provincial Synod of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA), which met online this week.

He said that one of the most controversial issues to be debated during the Synod was whether vaccines should be made mandatory; he raised the possibility of enforcing vaccine mandates in other areas of society.

“In a deadly pandemic, the right of your neighbour to life inevitably circumscribes your right to do as you like,” the Archbishop said.

“Anti-vaccine lobbyists defend their right not to be vaccinated, which is all well and good if they are willing to stay at home in isolation. But as soon as they move into spaces occupied by others, their rights become limited by the rights of others. In the words of the legal philosopher Zechariah Chafee, ‘Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other person’s nose begins.’”

Vaccines and the effects of the pandemic on dioceses were among the wide range of issues that he addressed, summarising the life of the Province and the challenges facing it. Others were high youth unemployment, poverty, the increasing gap between rich and poor in society, the Safe and Inclusive Church Commission, and climate change.

“In the 1980s, when the fight against apartheid reached its peak, many of us adopted the Kairos document. It recognised that South Africa had reached a ‘kairos’ moment — a moment of truth, a critical turning point — requiring a deeper commitment to the struggle.

“Today, the climate emergency offers us another kairos moment: an opportune moment for new and creative initiatives towards a just solution to the crisis,” he said, looking ahead to COP26 in Glasgow.

The Synod comprised clergy, laity, and bishops representing dioceses in Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, St Helena, South Africa, and Eswatini (Swaziland).

New Province. The South African Provincial Synod was due to end today, when four Portuguese-speaking dioceses will gain independence as an autonomous Province in Africa: the Igreja Anglicana de Moçambique e Angola (IAMA), composed of nine dioceses (News, 26 March).

The Archbishop of Cape Town said that it was a “bittersweet” moment for the Province of Southern Africa. “The diocese of Lebombo was established in 1893, and these important dioceses of our Province have enriched our lives immensely over the past century.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury was due to deliver a homily at the inaugural service. The Bishop of Lebombo, the Rt Revd Carlos Matsinhe, becomes the Acting Presiding Bishop, and the Bishop of Angola, the Rt Revd André Soares, will be the provincial Dean.

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