SOUTH AFRICA: Bishops Call for Better Treatment of Immigrants

JOHANNESBURG, MARCH 15 2019 (CISA) – Archbishop Buti Tlhagale has urged Christians of Johannesburg to be welcoming and friendly to immigrants.

“We are enjoined to give bread to the hungry and to relieve the oppressed .We should do fasting in order to share with those in need, especially the migrants and refugees,” said the prelate in his  Lenten message posted  March 14 by the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops Conference.

The Archbishop called out the Christians for their negligence towards strangers, which is contrary to the teachings of Christ in the gospel.

“We should do penance for the gross negligence, indifference and at times even our open dislike for the people we consider as strangers, as Foreign Nationals. Scripture reminds us that if we fail to take care of the needs of the migrants and refugees who are the least of the brothers and sisters of Christ, we would have failed to do a service to Christ himself,” he said.

He further lamented the poor and inhumane conditions of many migrants and refugees, saying that many are unemployed because they do not have proper documents or even the requisite qualification and skills.

He warned that their conditions have, “… reduced them to being beggars” which may expose some to the temptation of criminal activities.

“Many migrants and refugees do not have a proper home. They live in overcrowded conditions. Some sleep in the open like animals. Where do they go for a shower? Where do they wash their clothes? What toilet facilities do they use? … Young men in their prime have become hobos, vagrants wandering aimlessly around the city, at times harassing motorists,” he quipped.

He concluded by calling on Catholic charitable organizations to give attention to their suffering.

“I appeal to our charitable organizations: Catholic Women’s League, Knights of Da Gama, St. Vincent de Paul, the Sodalities, to every Catholic – to turn their attention to the urgent needs of migrants and refugees. They are to us the angel in disguise. They are here to give us an opportunity to become human again, to become kind, gentle, compassionate and loving human beings.

To the candidates who will be received at Easter, choose migrants and refugees as your favourable charity. Lessen the pain and anxiety in their lives.

Let us mount a Lenten campaign to appeal to the City of Johannesburg to build a shelter for destitute migrants and refugees so that they should sleep under a roof and not in the open.”