Thursday, January 6, 2011

Archbishop Stephen Naidoo

South African clergyman and educationist who became the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cape Town and was known for his opposition to apartheid.

Stephen Naidoo was born on 23 October 1937 in Durban, Natal, to parents who came from India. He received his primary and secondary schooling in South Africa and was taught by Christian missionaries, before going to Britain for the Redemptorists' noviceship at St. Mary's, Kinnoull Hill, Perth. He then studied theology at Hawkstone Park in Shropshire.

Naidoo decided that he needed to learn Tamil also if he were to be able to do his work more effectively, so he spent some time in Bangalore, India, learning the language. After that he took a doctorate in Canon Law at the Dominican Angelicum University in Rome.

In 1968 Naidoo returned to South Africa after a period of teaching liturgy at Hawkstone. He immersed himself in church work, learning a lot about his country in the process, visiting households in African townships and observing first hand the problem of the Cape Town Colored and other minorities. The inequities of the apartheid regime became even more apparent to him and his stand against it, though it did not make headlines, but nonetheless firm.

In 1973 Naidoo succeeded Cardinal Owen McCann as the first "non-White" Archbishop of Capetown. He may not have being as outspoken in his opposition to apartheid as his Anglican counterpart, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but he also became known for his vigorous denunciation of it. In April 1987 he teamed up with Tutu and others in St. Mary's Anglican Cathedral in a prayer service for detainees. At the time, there was a ban on "joint action" for detainees; Naidoo described the ban as a "manifest nonsense." He spoke on South African problems at the October 1987 Synod on the Laity in Rome, and achieved high profile exposure in the universal church. At the end of the Synod he was elected one of the three African representatives to the Synod board where he was said to have made a good impression with his courtesy and quick wit.

He died on 1 July 1989 at Merton Park in Surrey, England, after an attack of angina.
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