Pastoral care agents from the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) have called on the Catholic Church in the Southern region countries to introduce migration catechesis to educate children and young people about Pope Francis four verbs of migration; to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate.
From March 27 to 31, pastoral care agents from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe gathered at Lumko Institute and Conference Centre for a five-day workshop on migration. Organised by the SACBC Migrants and Refuges Office in collaboration with other Catholic organisations, the objectives of workshop on migration were to capacitate pastoral care agents with the necessary tools to assist people on the move.
According to Pastoral care agents present at the workshop, the introduction of migration catechesis in parishes will help teach children from an early age not to discriminate people on the move, who are often victims of xenophobia, and are often excluded from having access to education and health care.
Among the objectives of the SACBC workshop on migration were to equip pastoral care agents with knowledge on how to organise online assessment templates, how to capture protected data, to understand the legal framework concerning stateless persons and to improve civil registration in Southern African countries.
At the end of the five-days’ workshop, pastoral care agents highlighted ‘Synodality”, that a synodal Church walks with everyone including migrants and refugees. Pastoral care agents also emphasised integration and slammed anti-foreigner sentiments expressed by movements such as Operation Dudula.
Pastoral care agents highlighted exploitation of undocumented migrants in factories and farms. Pastoral Care Agent from the Lesotho Catholic Bishops Conference (LCBC) Justice and Peace Commission Lerato Molise says that the workshop was an opportunity to network and to share experiences in assisting migrants in Southern Africa.
Meanwhile – Sr Cynthia Nwadike from Botswana Catholic Bishops Conference Migrants and Refugees Office highlighted access to “education” for undocumented children living in migrants and refugees’ camps because an “unempowered child is a dangerous adult.”