SA bishop hits out at smear campaign
By John Carey
SOUTH AFRICA'S most outspoken Church leader, Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu, has hit back at what he described as "a well-orchestrated campaign to denigrate both the South African Council of Churches and myself."
He said that various Cabinet ministers, including the Prime Minister, had had a hand in the campaign, together with various right-wing Christian groups. and he declared: "There is absolutely nothing, just nothing that you can do which will stop me from the work :that I believe God has called me to do."
Recently a spate of pamphlets attacking the bishop has appeared in Soweto, the black township outside Johannesburg.
The latest purports to come from the Young Christian Workers, Group 9: earlier ones were distributed by groups describing thernsleves as the United Trade Union Council and the Black Jacks. which calls itself the "watchdog of the students."
All the pamphlets criticise the bishop's own lifestyle, accusing him of living in luxury while advocating an international boycott of South Africa, The Young Christian Workers' pamphlet said: "Does a servant of God bring poverty and misery upon his people? Is Tutu then God? No, he never teaches love. he's too busy playing the M uzorewa-sty le politician."
The government-controlled South African Broadcasting Corporation has also attacked the bishop's "intervention into politics.'" It contrasted the "politicising of the Church" with the attitude of Pope John Paul who. it said "says that the Church's mission is to save the souls of men and that this cannot be reduced to narrow economic, political, social or cultural dimensions." Bishop Tutu's passport was confiscated for the second time recently after he had returned from an overseas trip during which he described apartheid as "one of the most vicious systems since Nazism."
Meanwhile. the Church in South Africa this week repeated its call to all Catholics to boycott the national celebrations for the twentieth anniversary of the declaration of a republic.
Pastoral messages saying that the anniversary should not be seen as a time for celebration because of the hardship inflicted on the black majority were read in all churches on Sunday.
All other major denominations in South Africa have also called for a boycott and urged instead a day of prayer for peace and iustice.