Pastoral letter to the diocese of Natal from the Archbishop of Cape Town

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The text of a Pastoral Letter sent after the Synod of Bishops meeting in Benoni last week:

26 September 2019

Resignation of the Rt Revd Dino Gabriel as Bishop of Natal

To the People of God in the Diocese of Natal,

Greetings in the name of our blessed Lord.

I write to you, lay Anglicans and clergy in the Diocese of Natal, in consequence of the sudden resignation of your Bishop, the Right Revd Dino Gabriel, and after a discussion of his decision to resign by the Synod of Bishops on Monday 23 September.

It is my duty to inform you that Bishop Dino has made clear that his decision is irrevocable and that I have accepted it.

In summary, his resignation was precipitated by the consequences of pressures on Diocesan finances. Those pressures do not involve any financial wrongdoing, but rather are the result of an ambitious growth projectory which could not be sustained.

There is a sense in which Bishop Dino’s resignation is an unexpected bringing forward of the inevitable, since he was due to retire soon. Nevertheless, I am heartbroken over this development and its implications for the Diocese.

Ever since I was Bishop of Grahamstown, the second oldest diocese in our Church, the Diocese of Natal, as the third oldest, has held a special place in my heart. You have produced many of our best theologians and teachers of theologians, and you continue to be one of the greatest supporters of the College of the Transfiguration and the future of theological education. Your last two bishops have served as Deans of the Province, Bishop Michael Nuttall as “Number to Tutu” and Rubin Phillip to me.

But precisely because of the inherent strengths of your Diocese, I am hopeful for the future, in particular for your capacity to come together, soberly and prayerfully, to reach out to one another across the differences you will experience and to chart the way forward with integrity and compassion.

The Synod of Bishops wants me to assure you of their deep concern and care for all of you. The appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that the Diocese is administered in accordance with the Church’s Canons in the interregnum and that the spiritual well-being of the Diocese is attended to.

A detailed plan of pastoral oversight for the Diocese will be developed to ensure that pastoral, liturgical and administrative ministry is exercised with love and care. The Synod of Bishops will also ensure that pastoral and personal care will be provided for Bishop Dino and his family.

It is the Synod of Bishops’ sincere prayer and desire that you will find God’s will and one another as you continue to seek resolution to the challenges you are facing as a diocesan family. At a time which is appropriate to meeting those challenges, I look forward to presiding over an Elective Assembly.

May almighty God, in His infinite love and mercy bring peace and wholeness to each one of you, members of God’s family.

Yours in His love and service,

++Thabo Cape Town