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Put Right Something That’s Wrong (paperback)

Put Right Something That’s Wrong (paperback)

Albert Nolan
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This is a collection of articles by and interviews with South African Dominican Albert Nolan OP who died in October 2022 at the age of 88. From 1973–1980, Nolan was Chaplain to the National Catholic Federation of Students (NCFS) and, until 1980, assisted the Catholic Students Association (CASA), which was formed in 1976 after black students began organising themselves into separate formations as Black Consciousness flourished. In 1977, Nolan was instrumental in establishing Young Christian Students (YCS) in South Africa after he attended an International Movement of Catholic Students gathering in Lima, Peru, in 1975, where he was introduced to the See-Judge-Act method of social analysis and was inspired by Gustavo Gutiérrez, who later also became a Dominican and who is regarded as one of the pioneers of Liberation Theology. From 1977–1984, Nolan served as national chaplain of YCS, which affiliated itself to the United Democratic Front (UDF).

Nolan also played a brave role in the ‘underground work’ of the liberation movements, notably the African National Congress (ANC), offering his support to activists, especially those who became victims of the apartheid regime’s violent and repressive security police. He was part of a secret underground network that managed logistics, including the transportation and movement of activists, providing safe houses and a means of communication while in South Africa.

Within the ANC Albert was known as ‘C4’ until the end of 1980. After that his code was ‘42’, a number always used with a different number preceding 42 and another number after it. The codes served as a further layer of disguise in the secret communication, in case letters or micro-film was detected, often hidden on the bodies of foreign clergy visiting South Africa.

Outside of South Africa, Nolan became highly regarded for his 1976 best- selling book Jesus Before Christianity, which has been translated into at least nine languages. The book was the product both of Nolan’s deep knowledge of the Bible and his work in the student movement where he gave regular inputs on ‘That Man Jesus’ in student conferences. While in hiding in the late 1980s, Nolan went on to write God in South Africa, which is the outcome of what he described as ‘doing theology in a particular context’ and Jesus Today: A Spirituality of Radical Freedom  which explores the spirituality of Jesus as a ‘spirituality that leads to unity with God, ourselves, others, and the universe’. A collection of his talks, edited by one of his Dominican brothers, Fr Stan Muyebe OP, was published as Hope in an Age of Despair.

This edition of Cardijn Studies brings together two interviews with Albert Nolan, two articles by him and two papers he gave to an International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) meeting in Barcelona, Spain. All date from the 1980s and all bring out his links to the Cardijn inspired movements either explicitly or implicitly.


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