A South African priest has ended her hunger strike following the intervention of the Archbishop of Cape Town
A South African priest has ended her hunger strike following the intervention of the Archbishop of Cape Town. On 15 May 2016 the Rev. June Dolley-Major ended a six day hunger strike after the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba pledged to address her claims of abuse and discrimination with his Suffragan Bishop of Table Bay, the Rt. Rev. Garth Counsell. Writing on her Facebook page, Ms. Major said: “He assured me that he will deal with some clergy who were abusive over the years. He also confirmed a meeting tomorrow. I will meet with Bishop Garth, the chief of staff and both our legal teams. Hopefully it can be all sorted out tomorrow and not have to go to court.” Ms. Major began her hunger strike and sit in on the pavement outside Bishop Counsell’s office after he declined to give her a letter of recommendation to the Bishop of Wangaratta in the Anglican Church of Australia. She also claimed to have been dismissed from her last post due to her pro-Palestinian political activism in 2014 and had been “jobless and homeless because my bishop refused to send a letter of commendation.” After spending a day in hospital, Ms Major met with Bishop Counsell and his staff, but the meeting failed to resolve her complaints, she said. “I have been robbed of everything. I have absolutely nothing to lose,” she said on 17 May 2016, adding “All I know is that abuse and rape has been covered up by the church for many years. My friend’s brother was raped by a priest, yet he continued to minister. I was nearly raped and I kept silent. No more!! I can be crucified by all my colleagues and society but I won’t be silent. I seek justice and I want those clergy to be dealt with.” However the Dean of Cape Town has disputed Ms Major’s claims. In a 13 May 2016 press release the Very Rev. Michael Weeder wrote: “Contrary to what is being reported Ms. Major was not dismissed by the Church but chose to formally resign in 2014. No reference to her pro-Palestinian stance arose nor was it ever mentioned before or during the discussion of her decision, or in her formal letter of resignation.” Nor had Bishop Counsell blocked her attempt to move to the Diocese of Wangaratta. “Bishop Counsell was contacted by the Bishop of Wangaratta and had an open and honest conversation with him. No written “safe to receive” was requested and none was furnished by Bishop Counsell. As with any testimonial, it is at the discretion of a Bishop whether or not to write a letter of commendation and to determine the content of same. No person can claim a right to a recommendation,” the dean said, adding Ms Major had not requested a license from Bishop Counsell nor had the bishop ever refused to meet with her. “The Church remains open to any meeting with Ms Major and her appointed attorneys,” Dean Weeder said. Ms. Major plans on holding a press conference to detail the abuse she and others known to her have suffered at the hands of the church in Cape Town.