South Africa’s Mariannhill Diocese Put under an Apostolic Administrator

Archbishop William Slattery OFM, appointed Apostolic Administrator of South Africa's Mariannhill Diocese.

Following Apostolic Visitation in the months of February and March, the Holy See has put South Africa’s Mariannhill Diocese under an Apostolic Administrator “with immediate effect,” a letter from the leadership of Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) obtained by ACI Africa indicates.

“I have been informed by the nunciature that following the apostolic visitation to the diocese of Mariannhill, the Holy See has decided to appoint an apostolic administrator “sede plena et natum Sanctæ Sedis” in the person of Archbishop (William) Slattery OFM with immediate effect,” SACBC President, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka has said in a statement obtained by ACI Africa September 24.

In the letter addressed to members of SACBC and the Clergy, Bishop Sipuka clarifies the meaning of Archbishop Slattery’s appointment in a See that has been under the leadership of 72-year-old Bishop Pius Mlungisi Dlungwane.

“What this means is that while Bishop Dlungwane remains the Spiritual head of the Diocese and continues to be a member of the Conference, the actual administration of the Diocese, which includes organization of Pastoral life and work in the Diocese, discipline of the clergy, financial administration and other related administrative matters are now the task of the Apostolic Administrator,” SACBC President states.

The South African Prelate further says making reference to members of SACBC, “We entrust Archbishop Slattery, Bishop Dlungwane, the Clergy, religious and the faithful of Mariannhil to the Holy Spirit for a fruitful collaboration in advancing the mission of the Church in that part of the world.”


South Africa’s Mariannhill Diocese, which is under the Ecclesiastical Province of Durban, was put under Apostolic Visitation on February 6, after Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Slattery to represent him in the initiative. 

The Apostolic Visitation was in response to Bishop Dlungwane’s request, made in view of “enriching the life and pastoral activity of that Local Church.”

Following his appointment as the representative of the Holy Father during the Apostolic Visitation in February, Archbishop Slattery had told ACI Africa that the Visitation was “a moment of grace for a particular church to review and renew the focus and commitment of the Church on the great ministry of pastoral care.”

“I hope everyone who loves the diocese will share, pray and respond to the Grace of the Holy Spirit, will make this a response to the signs of the times,” the Archbishop, a member of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM) told ACI Africa in February.

Mariannhill Diocese was erected as an Apostolic Vicariate on September 10, 1921 and elevated to the rank of a Diocese on January 11, 1951. The Diocese measures 12,612 square kilometers with a population of 329,575 Catholics, according to 2017 statistics.

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