In November 2015, the Emmanuel Cathedral and the Denis Hurley Center opened in the heart of Durban. The centre, named for the bishop Denis Hurley, who was instrumental in the struggle against apartheid, provides Durban’s inner-city homeless with food, bathing, medical care, and educational opportunities.
Nearly 50 years were spent as the Archbishop of Durban by Denis Hurley. He was raised on Robben Island after being born in Cape Town (his father was the lighthouse keeper). As the head of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, he had to write a number of pastoral letters denouncing apartheid as “blasphemy” and “intrinsically evil.”
He was very vocal on topics like birth control, married priests, and the ordination of women, which is thought to have contributed to the fact that he was never elevated to the position of cardinal.
His participation in the Second Vatican Council had a significant impact on him. There were frequent spirited discussions, informal seminars, and what is called a “good mood” there. Hurley appeared to get the inspiration he needed from the council to fight apartheid. He revealed the government’s “separate development”—the notion that there were no black people in South Africa and that black people were citizens of homelands—for the absurdity that it was.
The Gandhi-Luthuli Peace Hall, which can accommodate 320 people theatre-style or 170 people banquet-style, a computer room, a space for interfaith prayer, and six tiny breakout rooms are among the rooms that may be rented at the Denis Hurley Centre. The Durban Film Festival most recently occupied the space.
Denis Hurley Centre, Corner of Denis Hurley and Cathedral streets, Durban Central, Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
Best Time To Visit
Best during daylight hours