CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — After chaos broke out in a Catholic church as it hosted a meeting to resolve a university crisis, South Africa’s Jesuits said the church would no longer be open for these talks.
The “safe and neutral space” of Holy Trinity Church in Johannesburg “has been violated by those who declared God’s house to be exclusively theirs,” Father David Rowan, regional superior of the Jesuits in South Africa, said in an Oct. 20 statement.
Adam Habib, vice chancellor and principal of the University of the Witwatersrand, slipped out of a back door after angry students objected to his presence at the Oct. 19 meeting.
Students in the church said Habib should have been arrested, instead of student activist Mcebo Dlamini, who faces charges of public violence, theft, assault and malicious damage to property.
The Jesuit statement said the dialogue at the church “was part of an ongoing attempt to find a peaceful solution to the current crisis at the university.”
“Since genuine attempts to dialogue and find a resolution to the crisis seem to have ended, Trinity is regrettably no longer available as a venue for meeting,” it said. The church “serves as a place of prayer and worship for thousands of people, not just the university community, and must continue to do so.”
Jesuit Father Graham Pugin, Holy Trinity’s parish priest, was struck in the mouth by a rubber bullet fired by police in earlier violent clashes between students and security forces at the university. The priest was urging an end to the violence while standing outside the church, where protesting students were taking shelter, when he was shot Oct. 10.
Protests at South African universities began in mid-September after the government capped 2017 fee increases at 8 percent, slightly more than the country’s rate of annual inflation. The government froze fee increases for 2016 in response to a campaign.
Help us keep you informed -- CatholicPhilly.com can't do it without youDuring CatholicPhilly.com's fall donation campaign, you have a way to help us deliver the kind of news you need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live. Every household's costs keep rising, and we're no different. We make sure your dollars in any amount go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month. Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can -- a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Or by credit card here: