Statement from Bishop Cawcutt about his resignation as
auxiliary bishop of Cape Town.
Forty years ago this month I was ordained a
priest by Cardinal McCann in St Mary's cathedral.
I know that my ministry has not been without controversy. I know that I
have made mistakes. I know that I have offended and angered some - and for that I humbly
apologise and beg your forgiveness and understanding. I do so hope that the Lord you love
is the Lord of the Prodigal Son parable.
That has always been my image of the Lord - the one who is the same as
the "Good Shepherd" kind of Lord - and so I beg no forgiveness for trying to be
the same a priest reaching out in love and compassion to those to whom Jesus
I have also always believed that my call was not so much to try to
convert the unchurched, but to live a life so that others may want to embrace a God whom
they had already met in the simple, the loving, the friend, the neighbour.
My ministry has been mostly a specialised one - first as chaplain to the
deaf community for six years, then as a chaplain to the Navy for sixteen, and after that,
a few years working with Archbishop Naidoo in the Chancery while at the same time being
parish priest in Lavistown, Woodstock and finally District Six until I was appointed
auxiliary bishop to Archbishop Henry ten years ago.
Controversy? My ministry was pretty calm as deaf chaplain, except that I
caused havoc by persuading the sisters at the deaf school to stop the children being
taught boxing. I wept watching the kids bashing each other as they too wept. Even my
appointment as a chaplain to the navy became a controversial one in later years. I know
too that I have caused much concern on various issues as a bishop. I remember how afraid I
was when I started getting involved in AIDS work. At that time many felt that it was
outrageous for a bishop to work with "those people". But yet after ten years of
setting up and leading the AIDS office for the Bishops Conference in Pretoria I am
proud of the churchs outstanding contribution in this field quite apart from
our having obtained funding of over twenty million rand in recent times for various AIDS
I suppose it has been because I believe that everyone who professes
faith in Jesus is called to become the Christ. Tax collectors, Roman centurions,
prostitutes, the Samaritan woman, and the thief on the cross all are just a few of
the cast of unlikely characters whose faith somehow leads their neighbours to faith.
I came from a very simple horse racing family and was not given to
academics like many others. I tried to be close to all of Gods people -and certainly
no one prepared me to face the intrigues of people who misjudge and those who cannot see
that truth is not the thing one sees at face value.
Yet, I also hope that somewhere along the line, my ministry has had a
good impact on some of those with whom I have come into contact.
And so because I do not wish to be the cause of any further division in
the church after forty years of what I believed to have been service to the Lord, I
have resigned as Cape Towns auxiliary bishop and I will continue serving the Good
Lord with a lower profile.