Christians are encouraged, not to see “the migrant, the other unknown person as a threat, a rival, a competitor” but as a blessing in disguise; “as an opportunity or as an instrument that brings the best out of us, making us worthy of being called: human beings with a heart”.
The Archbishop of Johannesburg, Most Rev. Buti Tlhagale said this during a celebration of SECAM Golden Jubilee in South Africa on 10th February 2019, as part of the All Nations Celebration and the reception of the Coadjutor Archbishop of Durban, Most Rev. Abel Gabuza.
The forum looked at the collective aspiration to become one Catholic Church that embraces diversity and complementarity and the aspirations of the people of the continent for the promotion of peace, unity, solidarity, economic progress and a freer movement of peoples.
The Archbishop of Johannesburg reminded all of the fact that migrants and refugees remain fearful and vulnerable; many employers exploit their predicament and do not pay them a living wage and those who do not have proper documents also have to continuously endure threats of arrest.
He added that, it makes sense for the Church to promote welfare institutions that will be of service to migrants. The efforts of non-governmental organizations and other religious institutions need to be strengthened in their serious attempt to alleviate the plight of migrants and refugees. As a Church, as Christians, we are concerned with relieving human suffering and enhancing human well-being on a large scale. Every person, irrespective of origins, deserves a golden opportunity to make ends meet, to take care of his or her family.
Further, the archbishop stressed that “if we are not going to be helpful to others, at least we should not harm or hurt them”. “We should not burn their houses, destroy their properties, loot their shops or inflict pain on their persons”.
Referring to St. Paul’s writings to the Galatians, he reminds us that we are all sons and daughters of God: “All of you have been Baptised into Christ. There is thus neither Jew not Greek, slave not free, male nor female. We are all heirs according to the promise” (Gal.3.26); we must learn to bring down the walls among us, embrace each other and “do as God would want us to”.