Denis Hurley in 2014 – Justice & Peace in South Africa


Jesuits SA LogoBy Anthony Egan SJ
Ten years ago this week, on 13 February 2004 to be precise, Denis Hurley OMI the retired Catholic archbishop of Durban died.  As a priest and bishop, as a theologian and religious leader in the struggle against apartheid, he made perhaps the greatest contribution to putting Catholicism firmly in the South African public square.
Before him, the Catholic Church in South Africa was cautious and quite inward-looking. Prohibited during Dutch rule, coolly tolerated by the British, and treated with intense suspicion after the Union of South Africa in 1910, the Church was (unsurprisingly) cautious in challenging apartheid. With the majority of its clergy foreign-born and thus vulnerable to deportation it was encouraged even by the Vatican to ‘play it safe’ after the 1948 National Party election victory. But Hurley, a white South African by birth, Oblate priest and bishop since 1946, thought differently. He believed that it was a matter of faith to oppose apartheid. FULL TEXT in PDF

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