KZN Church leaders Group – Message on Xenophobia September 2019 (002)
KWAZULU-NATAL CHRISTIAN COUNCIL
50 Longmarket Street – P.O. Box 2035 Pietermaritzburg 3200 South Africa Tel: +27 (0) 33 3454819 Fax: +27 (0) 33 3949965 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
STATEMENT ON XENOPHOBIC ATTACKS FROM KWAZULU NATAL CHURCH LEADERS GROUP
KwaZulu-Natal Church Leaders Group is horrified by the on-going attacks and killings of foreign nationals in South Africa. We condemn all attacks, killings, hatred and discrimination suffered by our foreign brothers and sisters in South Africa.
While we, KwaZulu-Natal Church Leaders Group are grateful to our government and other political leaders for speaking out against those in our communities responsible for the latest outbreak of attacks on people from other countries of Africa, we are most seriously concerned that some of these very leaders are responsible for this violence by their derogatory and inflammatory statements about migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable persons. What is of even greater concern is that messageS criticizing xenophobia are received with reluctance and even resistance by some of the local leaders.
Poverty and competition for scarce resources are some of the factors contributing to this violence. But violence is not a solution and blaming the weak and the marginalized is not a solution. Constructive and sustainable solutions must be sought through dialogues with one another and working together to address the challenges facing our communities.
As Religious Leaders, we commit ourselves to lead the responsibility of conducting dialogues with all stakeholders so as to address the challenge facing us. The sacred scriptures of every major faith stress the duty and obligation to receive widows, orphans and strangers and make them welcome. Xenophobia is totally unacceptable to all religions. In fact it is an offence against the God who made all of us in his image and likeness.
As part of the KZN Inter-Religious Council, we call for a major campaign to ensure that in every church, mosque, temple and synagogue, religious leaders speak out with clarity against xenophobic attitudes, statements and actions, and promote peace, love and ubuntu which leads us to respect and recognition of foreigners as fellow humans, and as our brothers and sisters, and therefore members of the same family of God as we do.
We express our sincere condolences to the families and persons who have lost loved ones; those who have had their lives turned upside down and those who have lost their jobs or livelihoods. We express our deep concern for those who have been profoundly traumatised by the Afro-phobic discrimination, violence and killings.
We call on Churches to mobilize relief for people who lost their livelihood and all their possessions. We ask that Churches become places of refuge and healing for people damaged in this scourge of hatred. We invite Church communities to cooperate in providing spaces of dialogue between enemies to seek alternative ways of expressing anger and frustration, hope and aspirations.
We urge every person in KwaZulu-Natal to pray for peace and to be involved in peace-building rather than violence and to make efforts that contribute to a tolerant and inclusive society.
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier OFM
Chairman of KwaZulu Natal Church Leaders’ Group (KZNCLG).