Catholic Bishops Of South Africa Respond To Xenophobic Attacks

Catholic Bishops of South Africa respond to Xenophobic attacks in honest and courageous words.

_*Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference*_

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CALL FOR PEACE AND CALM

It
is with dismay that we take note of the recent upsurge in violence
against foreign nationals, starting two weeks ago in the Johannesburg
CBD, last week in Pretoria, and this week again in the Johannesburg CBD,
Malvern, Turffontein and Krugersdorp.

Once again we receive
reports of the authorities doing very little to protect the victims. We
received report of police standing by idly in Pretoria while shops were
looted and people attacked. Not a single arrest was made on that day.

Once again the authorities resort to the old explanation: that this is not xenophobia, but the work of criminal elements.

Let
us be absolutely clear – this is not an attempt by concerned South
Africans to rid our cities of drug dealers. And this is not the work of a
few criminal elements. It is xenophobia, plain and simple. If it was
about drugs, why are South African drug dealers not being targeted as
well? Are we really to believe that there are none? And why are drug
addicts who rob people in our city centres to get money to buy drugs not
being targeted? If it is the work of a few criminal elements, why are
South African owned businesses not being looted as well?

The
teaching of the Church is direct and uncompromising. More than 80% of
South Africans claim to be Christian. What are our religious leaders
teaching the multitudes that fill our Churches every Sunday? Galatians
3:28 says: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free,
nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” By
the same token, there is neither South African nor Nigerian nor
Ethiopian. We are all one in Christ Jesus.

God makes it
absolutely clear that He has a special concern for refugees, migrants
and strangers. Deuteronomy 10:18 says: “He defends the cause of the
fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you,
giving them food and clothing.” He isn’t just concerned about the
foreigners. He loves them.

Jesus goes even further. Matthew 25
says: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me”.. He identifies directly
with strangers. By welcoming a refugee or migrant, we are welcoming
Jesus Himself.

In his scathing attack on the inactivity of
people of good will to do anything against the Nazi tyranny in Germany,
Pastor Martin Niemoller said:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Let
us take heed of this. We are facing a rising tide of hatred and
intolerance, no different to the rising tide of hatred in Nazi Germany.
If we do not take urgent action to stop it, there will be nothing left.

I
appeal to all people of faith, and all people of good will, to speak
out and take action. In the words of St Francis: “Make us channels of
your peace”.

My prayer is that God will fulfil his promise made
in Ezekiel 36:26:” I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in
you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of
flesh.”

Archbishop Buti Tlhagale OMI

Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference Office for Migrants and Refugees

Contact:
Fr. Patrick Rakeketsi CSS
Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference
0027-73 380 5629

Source: Fr. Sabinus Iweadighi’s Facebook wall

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