Just a Thought
MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES
January 13th 2013 is the 99th World Day of Migrants and Refugees and Pope Benedict has issues a special message to mark the occasion.
Noting that the experience of being a migrant or refugee can be an ordeal of great suffering arising from extreme poverty, from civil war or other trauma, the Pope acknowledges that migrants and refugees can easily be exploited. We have too many examples of rampant xenophobia in South Africa to need convincing about this. This context of fear of the foreigner or suspicion of the stranger should make Christians vigilant about our divine vocation to reach out to the neighbour in need. The fact that within the last year in Cape Town alone there have been 13 cases of fatal neck-lacing –some of whom were foreigners- raises huge questions about our society.
Another aspect of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees is the disturbing question of human trafficking, especially of women and children. The Pope calls for “more severe sanctions against irregular migrants and the adoption of measures meant to discourage new entries” so that this might limit the possibilities of human trafficking.
However the main burden of the Pope’s message is positive. He offers a vision of migration as a “pilgrimage of faith and hope”. Migrants can bring with them a sense of trust and hope and in encountering acceptance, solidarity and help; they in their turn can offer new energy and life to local Christian communities.
We are privileged to welcome a franco-phone community of migrants and refugees to our church every Sunday. Although not very numerous: they certainly enhance our parish; they celebrate with great enthusiasm; and are hugely appreciative of the opportunities available to them in the parish. They are represented on the Parish Pastoral Council.
I would hope that they may become better known to the whole parish.
May they continue their journey of faith and hope among us.
Fr Sean Wales, C.Ss.R.