Dear +Rembert, Jack, Gretchen, and Bob,

We are privileged to have an inspiring new visitor to our fair city, who prefers to be called “Mathi.”

Were you to google Mathibela Sebothoma you would find articles he has written that suggest his 2 year stay in Milwaukee and at Marquette U. will be a great adventure for us all!

God bless,


Let’s free the women

By Mathibela Sebothoma

August is a special month in which we celebrate the gift of womanhood. National Women’s Day, August 9, commemorates the women who marched to Pretoria in 1956 to demand their dignity. On Assumption Day, the Catholic world has the privilege to honour Mary, the mother of Jesus.

These women did not march to be told how beautiful or sexy they were. Their struggle was not to force men to open doors or show them where to sit. Such trivialities undermine the emancipation of women. Material gifts cannot diminish the status of these sisters.

Women resemble the divine image in the same way as men (Genesis 1:27). Jesus overturned and resisted such bias in the gospels. St Paul said: “There are no more distinctions between male and female, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). The Church continues to teach the equality of men and women.

Thanks to the generation of 1956, gender prejudice is forbidden in Botswana, as it is in South African schools, government, the law, and the workplace. (Swaziland is lagging behind, and the Church there seems to be quiet with regard to women’s liberation.)

The Church generally seems to be more advanced than any institution with its social teachings. My concern is that our government, as in most countries, is more enlightened than the Church when it comes to social practice.

Nearly half the South African parliamentarians are women. The rights and dignities of women are enshrined in our world-renowned constitution. We cannot deny the fact that women are the majority, at least in black parishes. There are more women religious than priests.

Yet these mothers, sisters and daughters do not have a voice to influence Church teaching and practice on issues of faith and morals. In our Church, men decide on these vital subjects.

As Church, we should be ashamed that we do not seem to be practising what we preach. We claim that women and men are equal, but women do not form part of the hierarchy. The assertion that we are a “Church of shame and brotherhood of silence”, made in a different context, seems to me understandable.

In this age when abuse of women and girls (and boys) is rampant, how do we take corrective decisions if women are not part of the policy making? There is a trend in South African culture that if a woman has been abused, women should be part of the judicial decision-making. This pre-emptive action ensures that the guilty class are not at the same time the judges. As Church, we can begin by allowing more women to take part in disciplinary structures against abuse by men and priests.

As we celebrate the Assumption of Mary, let us look not only at statues of our Lady, hoping for a miracle to transform male attitudes and biases, but also at her example. Let us listen to her liberation song: “The Mighty One has done great things for me. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty” (Luke 1:49–53).

This great woman acted against chauvinistic beliefs when she allowed the Holy Spirit to make her pregnant. She did not allow the beast to kill her precious Son. She never ran away when her own child was in trouble. She strengthened the disciples when they had fled the public for fear of persecution.

Since, at present, we are told we cannot discuss women’s ordination to the priesthood, why not meantime have women cardinals and deacons ?

The Southern Cross, August 6 to August 12, 2003

Last edited by g.   Page last modified on March 25, 2005

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