Southern African Bishops Share Insights on Role of Clergy, Laity During Ad Limina Visit

SACBC Ad Limina visit. Mass at Papal Basilica St Paul Outside the Walls. Credit: SACBC

Members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) who include Bishops in Botswana, Eswatini, and South Africa have shared their insights on the role of the Clergy and the Laity on the second day of their ongoing Ad Limina visit.

In a video recording published Wednesday, June 14 after a meeting with members of the Clergy and Laity from the three SACBC countries living in Rome, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of South Africa’s Mthatha Diocese and Archbishop Zolile Peter Mpambani of Bloemfontein Archdiocese in South Africa caution against mixing up roles.

“It made a big difference for the Bishops listening to the laity; the lay people had a sense of commitment about the work that they are doing,” Bishop Sipuka says in reference to SACBC members’ earlier meeting with the officials of the Vatican Dicastery for Evangelization.

In the video, the Local Ordinary of Mthatha Diocese who doubles as the President of SACBC acknowledges with appreciation the presentation that the three laypeople made on the role of the laity in the Church.

He emphasizes that there is no competition between the Clergy and the Laity, and that their roles are complementary.


“It is not that the laity wants to take over; it is clear that the ordained Clergy have a specific role to play that the laity appreciates very much, but there are just some things that are peculiar to the laity that the Clergy cannot do,” Bishop Sipuka says.

To foster collaboration between the Clergy and the Laity, SACBC President says that there is need to incorporate the Catechism in the formation of future Priests in the Seminaries. 

“I really think that we need to take this issue of catechism in our training of Priests seriously because you cannot blame them if they are not so passionate about it when they are not taught well about it in the seminary,” the South African Bishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in May 2008 says in the video recording. 

On his part, Archbishop Mpambani recalls the need for collaboration between members of the Clergy and the Laity as was emphasized during the encounter with officials of the Vatican Dicastery for Evangelization.

“The role between the laity and clergy is about the question of co-responsibility and cooperation between the Priests and the laity, the Bishops and the laity,” the member of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (SCI) says in the video recording.

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Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.