BY Paschal Norbert
PRETORIA, MAY 6, 2022 (CISA) – The Southern African Catholic Bishop’s Conference (SACBC) office of Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees has published a manual for the formation and training of pastoral care for migrants and refugees as a guideline for Dioceses, and Parishes of Southern Africa.
The aim of the manual according to SACBC is to equip staff and volunteers on how to respond to the needs of Migration in Southern Africa.
In their forward, SACBC attests that “Migration has become a worrisome phenomenon throughout the whole world. It is one of the key ‘signs of the times’ and involves different spheres: economy, sociology, politics, health, culture or security. All Christians are called to respond to migration as a matter of faith, not simply as a matter of goodwill. The reality of human mobility in South Africa requires an integrated approach of social assistance and an understanding of both the phenomenon and the advocacy involved. It also requires specific Pastoral Care in all the dioceses, parishes, communities and with the migrants and refugees themselves.”
According to SACBC, the realization and need to have the Guidelines for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees stemmed from the Plenary session in February 2016, which decided to implement a National Office for Migrants and Refugees, to coordinate the apostolate in the Southern Africa Region, and also “from the reflection of how the Church can speak to the needs of Migrants and Refugees living in our Dioceses.”
In the forward written by Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, O.M.I., the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Johannesburg and SACBC Liaison Bishop for Migrants and Refugees, the guidelines “are based upon the teaching of Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church, with principles and characteristics rooted in the field of migration within Southern Africa. One of the reference documents chosen for these guidelines is “Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi (EMCC)”, (Magisterium Documents), the letters and recommendations’ from Pope Francis as well as the SACBC Plenary Session Resolutions 2019 for Migrants and Refugees in Southern Africa.”
Among the notable authors of the manual are Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, O.M.I., the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Johannesburg, Sally Gandar, the Head of Advocacy & Legal Advisor at the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, Fr. Avelino Chico, SJ, a member of the Vatican Dicastery of Integral Human Development, Fr. Rampe Hlobo SJ, Fr. Peter-John Pearson, Sr. Melanie O’Connor HF, and Sr. Maria de Lurdes Lodi Rissini, MSCS. (https://bit.ly/3KNyvnS)