Bishops in Zimbabwe Call for Openness to Help ahead of World Day for Migrants, Refugees

Pope Francis with members of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC). Credit: Catholic Church News Zimbabwe

Members of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) are calling upon the people of God in the Southern African nation “to be open to” the needs of persons on the move ahead of the 109th World Day for Migration and Refugees (WDMR).

In their statement that Zimbabwe’s Catholic Church News published on Thursday, September 14, ZCBC members also advocate for the upholding of the dignity of migrants and refugees. 

“As we celebrate the 109th WDMR, we the ZCBC, call upon our communities to be open to those on the move and offer necessary help as Christians where there is a need,” Catholic Bishops in Zimbabwe say.

They add, “In celebrating the WDMR the call is to treat those in need of our help, with dignity and respect. The way we treat them will define our identity as Zimbabweans and as Christians.”

Such dignity and respect can be upheld by embracing “the synodal spirit of listening, participation and mission”, ZCBC members say, making reference to the theme of the Synod on Synodality.


“Every migrant and refugee is unique and has a story to tell, and if that story is given a synodal listening ear, it can change the perceptions on how people look at the issue of migrants and refugees or those on the move,” they say.

In their statement, ZCBC members express their recognition of the rights of people on the move, saying they “acknowledge that migrants and refugees should feel at home among us and that they are free to choose whether to migrate or to stay.”

“Migrants and refugees are humans with the same dignity as those who host them. After all, we are all, pilgrims on our way to our heavenly home, where if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God an eternal home,” they say.

The Catholic Church leaders also urge Christians and others hosting migrants to help them integrate in their respective communities, adding that some of the migrants have useful skills.

“Amongst the displaced people, some are professionals, university students, and entrepreneurs while others are good in some related fields, and hence through their expertise, both the hosted and the hosting community, benefit each other a lot,” they say.

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ZCBC members continue, “Such diverse fields and skills, can enrich the hosting community more. Being displaced is not being disabled, but it is a movement to share and showcase one’s skills and future skills.”

Through their Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO), Catholic Bishops in Zimbabwe pledge to partner with the relevant Vatican bureau in advocating for the rights of the migrants and Refugees.

“CPLO wishes to assure the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development in the Vatican that, despite the limited resources, the local Church is active in advocating for the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees in Zimbabwe,” they say.

ZCBC members say that the Church in the Southern African nation “is constantly encouraged to receive such people and allow them to live peacefully within their communities besides living in the refugee camps.”

They further say, “The CPLO is working in collaboration with Caritas and offers pastoral counseling services and advocacy for refugees and migrants who are sometimes abruptly arrested for different reasons.”