“We are happy”: Catholic Bishops in Southern Africa on Naming of New Cardinal

Cardinal-designate Stephen Brislin receiving gifts from Pope Francis during the Ad Limina Visit of members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC). Credit: SACBC

The naming of Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town in South Africa among 21 new Cardinals has been met with joy and happiness by members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC).

In a statement that the President of SACBC, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, issued Monday, July 10, Catholic Bishops in the three countries of Botswana, Eswatini, and South Africa say, “As a Conference, we are happy that the Pope has recognized the gifts of Cardinal-elect Brislin and availed them for the larger Church by appointing him a Cardinal.”

“With the appointment of Archbishop Brislin, it is a joy for the Conference to assist the Holy Father through two Cardinals,” they further says, and add, “Although Cardinal Napier has reached the age of 80, which makes him unable to be part of the Cardinals that elect the new Pope, he remains active as the advisor of the Pope.”

On July 9, Pope Francis announced a new Consistory that he said would take place on September 30. 

Speaking from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square after reciting the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father named 21 new Cardinals, including three from Africa, nine from Europe, three from Asia, five from Central and Latin America. Three of the newly named Cardinals are over the age of 80.


The other two Catholic Church leaders from Africa named Cardinals include Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin of Juba in 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.

Catholic Bishops in Africa have congratulated the three African Cardinals-designate and expressed spiritual support for “the success of this new and noble mission”.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa July 10, the Secretary General of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), Fr. Rafael Simbine Junior says the Catholic Church leadership in Africa “is thrilled to share in the news” of the naming of three new Cardinals, who are part of the Catholic Church in Africa.

In the July 10 statement, SACBC members “congratulate Cardinal-elect Brislin and assure him of our prayers and support as he takes on this new service for the Church.”

“Cardinal-elect Brislin is one of the senior Bishops of the SACBC with proven pastoral experience and sharp insight into social challenges and complex political situations,” they further say, and continue, “We have no doubt he will make the needed contribution to the task for which the Pope has appointed him.” 

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Making reference to the Episcopal Motto of the Local Ordinary of Cape Town Archdiocese, Veritas in Caritate (Truth in Love), SACBC members say that the Cardinal-designate “has a rare gift of combining gentleness with firmness.”

Archbishop Brislin, they say, “has clarity of mind that enables him to give a succinct resume of issues with penetrating insights and wisdom.”

The South African Cardinal-designate “presents a good balance between the teaching of the Church and pastoral sensitivity,” SACBC members say, adding that “these qualities saw him being awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Pastoral Leadership by the Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, Texas, USA, in May this year.”

“The Cardinal elect can do all this with a simple disposition, friendly and welcoming and with a sense of humour and impeccable knowledge of the Sesotho language,” they further say about the South African Cardinal- designate.

Born in Welkom in September 1956, Archbishop Brislin 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.

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.