Sr Maria de Lurdes Lodi Rissini, mscs, Coordinator of the Office for the Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees, Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference
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.
For this reason, at their Plenary session in February 2016, the SACBC decided to implement a National Office for Migrants and Refugees, to coordinate the apostolate in the Southern Africa Region.
The need for Guidelines for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees in the SACBC arises from the reflection of how the Church can speak to the needs of Migrants and Refugees living in our Dioceses. We are all conscious of the challenges that are faced every day and the need to work together on the socio-pastoral issues in our Church. Our approach, therefore, must be an integrated one that respects both the needs of the displaced persons and those of the hosting community. These guidelines are suggestions that can help us to work together in the light of welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating the migrant and refugee communities in the local church.
They 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 this 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.