“Quite confused, bewildered”: South African Archbishop on Being Named Cardinal

Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town in South Africa, one of the three Africans named Cardinals on Sunday, July 9. Credit: SACBC

Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town in South Africa, one of the three Africans named Cardinals on Sunday, July 9 says he is “surprised” by his naming.

“I have been taken by surprise and to be honest I feel quite confused and bewildered at the moment,” the South African Cardinal-elect says in an audio message shared with the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC).

Reflecting on his new status in the Church, the South African Catholic Archbishop says, “The Cardinal is a person who is associated with the Pope and is a representative of the Church.”

He continues, “I could only hope and pray that I will follow the good example that has been set by the Cardinals of South Africa.”

Owen Cardinal McCann and Wilfrid Cardinal Napier, he further says, “always gave extreme service not only to the Church in Southern Africa but also to society itself and for the good of the country.” 


Born in Welkom in September 1956, the South African Cardinal-elect was ordained a Priest in November 1983.

In October 2006, he was appointed Bishop of Kroonstad and Consecrated Bishop in January 2007. 

Three years later, he was appointed Archbishop of Cape Town Archdiocese.

In his July 9 message, the Local Ordinary of Cape Town Archdiocese who doubles as SACBC Spokesperson appeals for prayers for the success of his new role in the Church.

“I would like to ask you to please pray for me so that I will be loyal and faithful to what is being asked of me and that I too will be able to follow the example of our previous Cardinals and be of service to the entire Church and to our country and the neighboring countries,” he says.

More in Africa

He continues, “Please pray that God will give me the wisdom, the courage and the foresight to be able to do that.”

Other newly Cardinals from Africa named July 9 include Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin of Juba in South South Sudan, and Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, the former Secretary of the Dicastery for Evangelization, who was appointed the Coadjutor Archbishop for Tanzania’s Tabora Archdiocese on April 13.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.