SOUTH AFRICA: Refugees are Part of us, says Archbishop

JOHANNESBURG JUNE 3, 2016 (CISA) – Archbishop Bhuti Tlhagale of the Catholic Archdiocese of Johannesburg, has stated that migrants and refugees “are our brothers and sisters in search of a better life, far away from hunger, poverty, exploitation and the unjust distribution of the planet`s resources, which are meant to be equitably shared by all.”

Archbishop Tlhagale was speaking in his capacity as the Liaison Bishop of migrants and refugees of Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) during a roundtable meeting on policy and legislative changes to the Refugee Act that was organized by the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa (SIHMA), Vatican Radio reported.

The discussion recently held in Johannesburg, brought together SACBC’s Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees office; the Bienvenu Shelter; Jesuit Refugee Service; Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, and the Justice and Peace Department in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg. Also participating in the meeting were officials of the South African Government.

The Archbishop gave a historical perspective on refugees in South Africa and pointed out, for example, that the beginning of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg is closely linked to its first migrants from Ireland.

He reminded the meeting that Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was himself a refugee, a slave and a person who was trafficked for profit and that “the city of Johannesburg grew out of an influx of people from elsewhere, who came to the city in search of peace, safety and a better life.”

The Archbishop further said the 2016 Refugee Day would be celebrated at St Patrick Catholic Church in La Rochelle in the Southern Deanery of Johannesburg.

“On June 19, all are invited to join and celebrate the beauty of each culture, and to pray for all who are experiencing suffering, abandonment and persecution,” Archbishop Bhuti said.

He closed his presentation by quoting from Matthew 25 when Jesus says, “I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me water to drink. As you have done this to the least of my brothers and sisters, you have done it unto me.”

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