Adapted from Archbishop Thabo Makgoba’s weblog

The Archbishop of Canterbury has declared international Anglican support for Archbishop Thabo Makgoba after disputes between church and state in South Africa.

Justin Welby preached at Evensong at St. George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, Dec. 30. He is on a private visit to Cape Town, where he visited Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, 85, who has twice been hospitalized in the past 16 months.

In his Christmas sermon, Archbishop Makgoba rejected a call by South African President Jacob Zuma for the church to stay out of politics. In a statement that followed, President Zuma said he had meant the church should stay out of internal party matters.

Archbishop Makgoba agreed, but added that when issues also “become the subject of internal debate in a party, we walk a fine line in distinguishing between issues of public debate and internal party matters.”

Archbishop Welby referred to the Anglican Church’s role in the apartheid era and added: “You may as well tell a fish to stay out of water. Water is where fish swim; the polis, the organization of the city, the country, the region, is where people swim — because they are people in relationship, and relationships of citizens need structures, and those structures need good values … and that means politics. Religious leaders commenting on values and politics in England are often unpopular! Party politics is what we avoid, but politics is where we live — and it is a central theme of the gospel. Politics is ultimately about the kingdom of Heaven. Your Grace, dear brother, we stand with you.”

Read Archbishop Welby’s full sermon on his website.

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