African Church leaders highlight migration as an opportunity, look to innovative new approaches
ROME, 17 November 2010—Leaders representing twenty-two national and regional Bishops’ Conferences of Africa gathered in Rome last week, where they deliberated new collaborative approaches to migration in and from the region, including the promotion of a legal status for migrants in Africa.
Co-hosted by the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa (SECAM) and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), the African Consultation on Migration involved church migration leaders in two days of rich discussions under the title “The new faces of migration in Africa: Root causes, challenges and perspectives from the Second African Synod, and the role of the Church in Africa.”
Taking place on the eve of the 55th meeting of the ICMC Council, H.E. Polycarp Cardinal Pengo, Archbishop of Dar-es-Salem and President of SECAM joined ICMC President John M. Klink in welcoming participants including the distinguished H.E. John Cardinal Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi, and emphasized the importance of the consultation.
“It is worth recalling that 20 million of the nearly 200 million migrants in the world today are of African origin”, noted Cardinal Pengo, “the Church in Africa is committed to the issues concerning migrants”.
Over the course of the consultation, African church leaders discussed challenges ranging from the root causes of migration, to “brain drain” and its effects on development, growing xenophobia and discrimination against foreigners, and the disconnect between many migration policies and contemporary political, social and economic realities.
Participants also expressed concern over the reintegration of migrants into their communities of origin, and underscored the urgency of creating and sustaining effective synergies between organizations and structures engaged in migration, particularly within the Church.
“Migration today is a pluridimensional challenge calling for a pluridimensional solution”, underscored keynote speaker Msgr. Gabriel Mbilingi, Archbishop of Lubango, Second Vice President of SECAM and President of the Department of Justice and Peace. “Migrants must be helped to become antagonists of their own futures, and the church has an important role to play in this. The question before us remains how to increase the Church’s impact in a world marked by fear and distrust of the foreigner”.
At the close of the consultation, church leaders release a joint message addressed to the international community, African governments and the Church in Africa, calling for strengthened collaboration, cooperation and networking, particularly between SECAM and ICMC, Caritas Africa, Caritas Internationalis, the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People and other Catholic Organizations engaged in migration.
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Press release: African Church leaders highlight migration as an opportunity, look to innovative new approaches (20.48 MB)