CHURCH leaders in South Africa representing more than 80 denominations, including the Catholic church, gathered near Pretoria this week for the start of a conference on the future of the country and the prospects for majority rule.
The meeting, opened on Monday by Desmond Tutu, Anglican archbishop of Capetown, has brought together Christians from all sides of the political spectrum to thrash out ideas on how best to further the reforms begun by South African president F W de Klerk.
Johan Heyns, leader of the Afrikaner-based Dutch Reformed Church, keen to play down his church's role in upholding the apartheid system, said that "if the churches can issue a joint declaration stating the minimum requirements for the new constitution then the impact would be tremendous".
But he admitted that the "separateness concept" had started in the Dutch Reformed Church in the last century. "In the 1940s the National Party came up with the idea of legally enforced separateness — apartheid . The church immediately supported apartheid and, what is more, blessed it by devising a theology .of apartheid," he said.