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6 November 2011

Here in South Africa we like to complain about corruption, and there’s certainly a lot of it about.

A few weeks ago a guy in our parish was arrested outside the block of flats where he lived. The police said that they were going to charge him with being an illegal immigrant, but they’d drop the charge for R500. He said his papers were in his flat in that building, and asked to be allowed to go and get them, but of course they would not allow him to do that as then there would be no “grounds” for the bribe.  Eventually the parish priest had to pay a bribe of R1500 to get him out. That’s as bad as the old apartheid era, with the pass laws and all.

In some ways there seems to be a lot more corruption about than there was in the past, but I suspect that that is because we now have a free press. It’s not necessarily that there’s more corruption, its just that more of it gets reported since we had constitutional freedom of the press since 1994.

But when you look at thing internationally, it seems that we’re not so badly off.

According to Transparency International – the global coalition against corruption, South Africa has a corruption index of 4,5 on a scale of 0 (very bad) to 10 (very good).

One of the things that is rather disturbing about it, though, is how badly Orthodox countries fare on the list. Altogether 178 countries are on the list, with Denmark (9,3) being the best, and Somalia (1,1) being the worst.

Here’s how some of the Orthodox countries fare, with South Africa included for comparison:


Cyprus 6.3


South Africa 4.5


Georgia 3.8


Romania 3.7


Bulgaria 3.6


Greece 3.5


Serbia 3.5


Belarus 2.5


Ukraine 2.4


Russia 2.1

You can see the full list here.

In South Africa there was quite a lot of talk about the need for moral regeneration, at least before Jacob Zuma became president, Since then it has been far less prominent. But I think that the apparent failure of the Orthodox Church to influence the moral climate in societies were Orthodox Christians are at least nominally in the majority must be cause for concern. Of course the Christian faith is not moralism, and we are to preach Christ, not morality. And of course the Church itself is a hospital for sinners. The problem is that the rate of cures doesn’t seem to be very high.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 6 November 2011 11:14 pm

    I often think that ‘corruption’ is a universal ill among mankind and is present in equal amounts across the world. What I do think may be differences are in the spread of corruption throughout local societies, more ‘egalitarian’ across poorer countries. Certainly in the UK corruption doesn’t play a large part in the lives of the masses but tends to be centred among the wealthy classes and government.

  2. 7 November 2011 1:00 am

    You stated: “And of course the Church itself is a hospital for sinners. The problem is that the rate of cures doesn’t seem to be very high.”

    As the bible states: we are all sinners, but sin is not a single monolithically acting force; it tailors its nature to the individual’s situation. In most cases, when an individual goes to church to seek guidance on how to replace their sinful behavior with Godly behavior they encounter what from the church members? Indeed the Church is a hospital and the Church Members can help, through their love, the sinner. It is the church members trust in God that differentiates them from the ordinary sinner. Within the church’s loving environment the sinner starts a relationship with God, and through God, learns how to overcome their sinful behavior and replace it with virtuous behavior.

    Corruption begins in church when church members do not help their brother and sisters with their sin struggles.


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