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Faced with “economic, climate, political disorders,” North Africa Bishops Support Migrants

Placard representing the Regional Episcopal Conference of North Africa (CERNA) during SECAM Golden Jubilee in Kampala, Uganda 28.07.2019

The Catholic Bishops of North Africa under the umbrella body called the Regional Episcopal Conference of North Africa (CERNA) recently reconfirmed their solidarity with thousands of migrants present in their region and promised to reach out to them.

“Our regions are marked by the presence of migrants who remind us of the great economic, climatic and political disorders of our world,” the Bishops said in a statement dated September 25.

“We are convinced that only the fight against these disorders will be effective in allowing everyone to choose to live on the land of their ancestors,” reads the message avail to ACI Africa.

“In our countries today, we want to support those who are going through this ordeal of migration,” CERNA Bishops stated at the end of their plenary assembly held in Rome, Italy.

Morocco and Libya, which are part of CERNA, are major transit zones for migrants from Sub-Saharan African countries seeking to cross to Europe in search of better living conditions.

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CERNA has always called for cooperation from member countries in addressing the issue of migration, which has caused suffering in the region.

In their statement, the bishops also recalled some important events that have stimulated the “churches to work for the Islamic-Christian brotherhood.”

They cited the beatification on December 8, 2018 of Bishop Pierre Claverie and his eighteen martyred companions, the document on human fraternity signed on February 4 this year, Pope Francis' visit to Morocco on March 30 and 31 and the choice of Archbishop CristÓbal López Romero of Rabat as Cardinal as some of the events that strengthened the Islamic-Christian brotherhood.

The Prelates resolved to “engage more as a Church, in partnership with Muslims, in a common service to the weak and the poorest.”

They also expressed the desire to protect women and children from abuses saying, “We remain vigilant about protecting children, women and the most vulnerable people from the risks of sexual abuse, power or conscience.” 

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“We have clarified the Guidelines promulgated in 2013 on how to deal with abuse by persons in authority. Places for listening and prevention and commissions are available to all,” they added.

During their September 22 to 25 meeting, the bishops shared their concerns and joys with Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary (Relations with States) of the Secretariat of State, and with Cardinal-elect Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

CERNA is currently chaired by Archbishop Paul Desfarges of Algiers in Algeria and covers Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Western Sahara.