The establishment of migrant and refugee offices in dioceses and parishes in the SACBC member countries of Botswana, Eswatini and South Africa aims to provide pastoral, social and spiritual assistance to people on the move.
On August 6, the SACBC Coordinator for Migrants and Refugees, Sr. Maria de Lurdes Lodi Rissini, facilitated a one-day workshop on migration in the Diocese of Kroonstad.
In the August 10 interview with ACI Africa, Bishop Holiday said the workshop “was very good, very informative,” adding that workshop participants “were encouraged to carry out this mission of the Church with regard to migrants and refugees”.
The South African bishop who has led the diocese of Kroonstad since 2011 regretted the fate of migrants and refugees in South Africa.
“As has been very apparent in the news in our country, and of course in our dioceses,” he said, migrants and refugees have suffered “real injustices.”
Experiences of injustices include how refugees and migrants “were really discriminated against, how they were mistreated and how their businesses in the townships were destroyed or vandalized by local people,” Bishop Holiday told ACI Africa on August 10.
The 70-year-old South African bishop lamented the plight of migrants and refugees in his episcopal see, saying, “It is a reality in the diocese, these sporadic attacks are widespread, and it is of great concern to all of us, that people who come to this part of the country to find a job, to find a place of safety, should be treated in this way, in such an unfair way.
“These migrants and refugees come here looking for a safe place for their families and children, or a place to earn a living to support their families, and yet they are treated in such a degrading way,” Bishop Holiday lamented.
He added that it is difficult “to see that brothers and sisters, human beings, can treat each other like this”.
Now that pastoral workers in his diocese have received training on caring for migrants and refugees, the Local Ordinary of Kroonstad said, “we will ensure that they are cared for and respected.”