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Heartbreak over early resignation of South African bishop

Posted on: October 3, 2019 1:44 PM
Bishop Dino Gabriel
Photo Credit: Diocese of Natal

[ACNS by Rachel Farmer] The unexpected resignation of a South African bishop has been attributed to financial pressures, according to the Archbishop of Capetown and Primate of Southern Africa.

In a pastoral letter about the early retirement of the Bishop of Natal, Dino Gabriel, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said 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.”

Bishop Dino was appointed to the position in 2015 and was due to retire in September 2020, but tendered his resignation at a Synod of Bishops this September.

“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,” said the Archbishop. “Nevertheless, I am heartbroken over this development and its implications for the Diocese.”

After 39 years in ministry, Bishop Dino said his four years as head of the Natal Diocese was largely a happy time and his main objective was to advance the work of his organisation.

However, South African media outlets report that he has been driven out by hostile leaders within his diocese.

The Italian-born bishop moved to South Africa as a Roman Catholic priest in 1987, later joining the Anglican Church in 1992 in the Diocese of the Highveld.

The bishop, who is fluent in Zulu, was elected the bishop of Diocese of Zululand in 2005, where he ministered until becoming Bishop of Natal in November 2015.

Dino Gabriel married Elizabeth in March 1992 and they have one son and two daughters.

Following the announcement at the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Thabo said he was hopeful for the future of the diocese, which he said had the capacity to come together and reach out across the differences they face.

He said: “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.”

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.