Page 4, 10th September 1976

10th September 1976
Page 4
Page 4, 10th September 1976 — Archbishop Hurley of Durban paints grim picture of the future for South Africa

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Locations: Durban, Capetown, London


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Archbishop Hurley of Durban paints grim picture of the future for South Africa

THE future of South Africa will be one of violence and possibly total destruction, with the white minority prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend their economic and political supremacy, Archbishop Denis Hurley, the outspoken Bishop of Durban, who is visiting London, grimly, prophesied this week.

The Archbishop sees the growth of black consciousness over the last 10 irreversible process, as an rreversible proCess, and the emergence of :a violent struggle as almost inevitable.

Ile is extremely pessimistic about the future of South Africa, and goes so far as to say that entrenched white groups fighting for survival would adopt a "scorched earth" policy and could even resort to the use of nuclear weapons.

Group 'fighting for survival' "I wouldn't put it past the whites to use nuclear weapons. We have the materials and the men, we could produce them and we have the mentality to use them." "At present the white people are incapable of making a rationalor realistic reaction to African demands for majority rule. They are likely to react like any group that has had power and privilege and status and has identified these things with its own survival. When a group is fighting for survival it doesn't make any concessions."

'Next 10 years likely to be sheer hell' The Archbishop sees a future for whites in South Africa only if they are prepared to accept that in 10 to 15 years the structures of the country will represent the black majority.

"The administrative, legislative and judicial structures of the country have all got to go, which for the average white man is impossible. He can't face it.

"The arrest of black consciousness leaders is just seen as an intensification of the struggle. The Government must suspect that things have changed so much that there is no going back to the attitude and mentality of the pre-Soweto riots.

"Whether they can bring themselves to admit it and then act on it is the big question.

"There could be changes, there could be unexpected developments, but by every human calculation the next 10 years are likely to be sheer hell." The possibility that other black African countries will join the stuggle is a real one, according to the Archbishop. He sees it as part of a process agreed on by the Organisation of African Unity at its inception in the early sixties. "Decisions were taken then, and I think we are seeing the implementation of them now. First, the capture of Mozambique and Angola; after that Rhodesia, Namibia, and then a total concentration on the Republic of South Africa.

"They look upon it as a struggle in which they are intimately involved. It is their struggle — the struggle of the whole of Black Africa."

Resigned to Namibia independence

South Africa, the Archbishop believes, is resigned to the independence of Namibia, but Rhodesia presents a different problem.

"South Africans are in a very embarrassing position with regard to Rhodesia. They feel a sense of immediate responsibility and identity with white Rhodesians; at the same time they dare not get involved and expose 'themselves to having Zambia on one border and Mozambique on the other and extending their defences to that extent."

The Archbishop believes that white Rhodesians will fight on to complete destruction and that if Mr Vorster and Dr Kissinger have any role to play it is to persuade them not to do so.

Warning to rest of the world

Archbishop Hurley is equally pessimistic about the Church in South Africa, which he feels has failed to develop the ability to communicate a sense of Christian social responsibility. Although this awareness is now spreading it is unlikely, he says, to have any effect before the violence takes over.

"Humanly speaking I would say it is quite impossible. It means a radical change in the whole evangelising process of the Church. It is a change that would call for a total formation of mind, heart and spirit in a Christian way towards the realisation of social obligations."

South Africa should however provide a warning to the rest of the world.

"I would say you should learn from our experience. The future influence of the Church in the decades immediately ahead depends very, largely on the growth of social responsibility.

"It implies a complete change of approach from the °Id Catholic view that the Church handed down the truth from on high to the people below — to the view that we've got to discover a great deal of what the truth means today in the experience of people."

In his own diocese the Archbishop has helped to organise an ecumenical project called Diakonia (the Greek word for "service"). The aim of the project is to arouse a greater degree of self-reliance and selfhelp on the part of the deprived communities.

"It faces in two directions. On the side of the blacks the idea is to go along with black consciousness, to indicate that it has a legitimate Christian dimension, that every people has a right to self-expression, and that Christianity should consecrate this self-expression.

"The white side is trying to make white Christians aware of the extent of black resentment and the urgent need for change."

Black seminarians reject integration A recent attempt to integrate a seminary has been less successful. The black students have rejected integration and have asked to be allowed to prove that they can run a seminary entirely staffed by black priests.

The Archbishop has agreed to work as hard as he can to provide such a black staff by the beginning of next year.

"What it amounts to is black consciousness in the Catholic Church — a power we hadn't realised was so strong.

"Now we realise that it is

there we as bishops must deal with it exactly as the Church in any other country would deal with a powerful sense of national or racial resentment that is justifiable because it has so many handicaps and injustices weighing down upon it."

On the controversial question of sport, the Archbishop believes that the policy of isolating South Africa has had a great impact on the whites and is helping to weaken apartheid.

Investment in South Africa by Churches

Discussing_ the issue of whether Britain, and particularly British Churches, should invest in South Africa however, he said he saw two sides to the question.

"I think black radicals would say: 'Go all out to give us all the support you can in our struggle, and that means disinvestment and economic boycott. There is going to he a struggle anyway, so the sooner everything is wrecked and rebuilt the better.'

"On the other hand there is just a possibility that through economic evolution and the acquisition of power by black people through economic prosperity, that change could come a little more gently,

"If from South Africa we could persuade the rest of the world that in ten years there can he a peaceful evolution 1 would say by all means favour investment and economic growth.

"If we can't persuade you, then it's up to you to say that it's going to be violent anyway so we might as well contribute our bit to the struggle by economic boycott."

Cardinal's open letter: In an open letter to the South African Government, Cardinal Owen McCann, Archbishop of Capetown, and more than 80 members of his clergy have called for the vote for everyone born in South Africa regardless of colour.

The letter also calls for an • end to preventive detention. the abolition of segregated areas and of the migratory labour system. Mixed mariages should also be allowed.

Alex Cosgrave

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