Two more statements on xenophobia and... xenophilia!

Below are two statements I have received. The first one is from the Diocese of Aliwal North and the second one from the Archdiocese of Johannesburg

The Bishop of Aliwal and his Diocesan Pastoral Council

call at the 2015 AGM on all the faithful to commit themselves to XENOPHILIA, the friendship for the stranger or immigrant. Biblical tradition makes us aware that almost all of us or our ancestors once were strangers:

“You shall declare before the Lord: My father was a wandering Aramean who went down to Egypt … and lived there as an alien.” (Deuteronomy 26:5). Being alien is not easy. Meeting aliens is a challenge. Often we do not know their customs and religion. And they do not know us. We are here as Christians, called by God, to welcome them and make them feel at home.

“Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels” (Hebrews 13:2). Angels are messengers. We expect something from the strangers: They shall integrate and share their wisdom. They may know a lot about appreciating good education and professional training. They may alert us to commitment and what it means to own a business. We may gain a lot.

And they will gain from us: They can experience our faith in a compassionate and merciful God. They may learn about the struggle for freedom and commitment to truth and reconciliation, all that Madiba stood for. They may learn this when we reject and uncover all sorts of lies spread about strangers.

“When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you?” (Matthew 25:18). We know the answer very well. We implore all our faithful, the Small Christian Communities, the sodalities and the Pastoral Councils to listen to the stories of immigrants, and to tell them ours. If we know their stories we can talk well about them to our neighbours, colleagues and friends.

We commend all who stand by the side of those in fear and desperation, among them our Pope Francis and countless people among us.

Immigrants know hatred, violence and anxiety. It would be wonderful if we worked the miracle and became angels for them proclaiming and showing: “Do not be afraid!” (Luke 2:10). We would love to hear your stories at the 2016 AGM of the ADPC about your friendship with strangers, how you overcame obstacles and how this friendship enriched your life.

Many people know about xenophobia, how to be hostile. Let us make them enjoy a new reality: XENOPHILIA, friendship with the stranger. Try to pronounce it! And try it again: Xenophilia. It works! May God bless you!

Michael Wüstenberg at the ADPC, Mt Carmel, 7.3.2015 and the ADPC
Bishop of Aliwal

Department of Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees
Catholic Archdiocese of Johannesburg

"For the Church nobody is stranger – we all belong to God"


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