by Cristina Odone THE IMPACT the dismantling of apartheid would have on South Africa's economy was discussed this week when three spokesmen for the Southern African Catholic Bishop's Conference joined 150 delegates at an international conference at York University.
Academics, economists and representatives of development agencies predicted trends and developments in agriculture, employment, and industrial policies in a post-apartheid South Africa during the fourday conference that began on Monday.
The presence of the spokesmen for the SACBC at the York conference seemed calculated to rebuff the charges levelled at South Africa's Catholic Church by a leading Catholic spokesman last month.
Speaking at the recent meeting of the council of priests, the President of the South African Council of Catholic Laity, Noel Pistorius, condemned "those Catholics who have a stake in the industrial, economic, political and property-owning system of the country" for their defence of "the oppressive system."
Echoing last year's Kairos document in his uncompromising denunciation of "the satanic policy of apartheid", Mr Pistorius said that the Church in South Africa lacked a "common vision" and reflected in its "immense
division" between affluent Catholics and poorer ones, the economic inequality present in South Africa and bolstered by apartheid.
Mr Pistorius called for a "clear preaching of gospel values in relation to what is going on all around us" and spoke out against the "compromise, paternalism and pious response" of those Catholics benefiting from the present system.
With Archbishop Denis Hurley of Durban's term of office coming to a close in January, Church sources said last week that Church leaders are intent on choosing a successor for the head of South Africa's Catholics. "No one seems to stand out as an obvious choice", a Church source said.
Archbishop Hurley has held office for the past six years, following an earlier term in the '50s. Hopes that the Pope, in an expression of solidarity with the anti-apartheid stand taken by Archbishop Hurley, would bestow a cardinalate on him, have been dashed by Rome's continuing silence.
"Making Hurley a cardinal would have been such an important sign of approval and encouragement, we are all disappointed that it's never come" the Church source said.
Disappointment was also felt at the role Britain took in the Commonwealth discussions last month, when Mrs Thatcher stood firm against backing sanctions against South Africa.