..As SIGNIS Africa holds workshop for Catholic journalists
Church media in Africa have been urged to exploit all perspectives and dimensions that can help the Church to increase awareness, reawaken consciences and revive brotherly responsibility and sensitivity about migrants and refugees. The charge was given by Most Rev. Emmanuel Badejo, Bishop, Oyo Diocese and President of CEPACS during SIGNIS Africa workshop for Catholic journalists, with the theme, “Effective and efficient reporting on migrants and refugees”, held at St. Mary National Seminary, Gaba, Kampala, Uganda, from July 10-16, 2023.
Speaking on the topic, “The Communicative Dimensions of the Church’s Vision of Migrants and Refugees: An African Perspective”, Bishop Badejo said, “As we meet, there are migrants expelled from Tunisia, barred in Libya, drinking seawater, in the scorching heat, injured people with no shelter, helpless women and children pouring out of Syria. Migrant issues in Tunisia, Morocco, Congo, South Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt condemn widespread global indifference and handwringing while migrant ships filled with African people get missing on the high seas.”
He said Catholic Communicators in Africa must be of the general disposition to put their skills and technology as well as values at the disposal of the Church’s vision to mitigate the situation, engender a fraternal and friendly society and build a welcoming for all. Speaking on the development of the Church’s vision on migrants and refugees, he quoted Pope Francis’ message for the 56th World Day of Social Communications, 2022. “We would have before our eyes not numbers, not dangerous invaders, but the faces and stories, gazes, expectations and sufferings of real men and women to listen to.”
He further quoted Dr. Paolo Ruffini, Vatican Prefect of the Dicastery for Communications speaking to Vatican News, Andrea de Angelis on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Pope Francis visit to Lampedusa on July 8, 2013 in solidarity with the migrants who perished trying to cross the Mediterranean into Europe, “We need to avoid slogans and speak with the heart and share to make things move” He said the citations from the Holy Father, Pope Francis and the prefect of the Dicastery for Communications give a clear view of a world with a heart open to all and which treats all as brothers and sisters, irrespective of the situation in which they are found.
According to him, “The messages of the Pope to the media on Word Communications Day in the last three years provide us with a roadmap for our communications strategy. In 2021, he urged the Catholic media to always to “Come and See”, in 2022 he asked that we “Listen with the ear of the heart” and in the current year to actually “Speak with the Heart”. All this, put together, express somehow “the pontificate of inclusion” which Pope Francis has pursued in the Church in his time. “Pope Francis has clearly led the Church further on the road of the civilisation of love, promoting encounter and social friendship with the needy, the less privileged and others who do not share our status, situation, and condition.
He has sought to increase universal solidarity and welcome, especially through his apostolic exhortation, Evangelium Gaudium on the joy of the gospel and the encyclical, Fratelli tutti, on fraternity and social friendship.” Bishop Badejo listed the human dignity principle, devotion to humanity, the prerogative of justice and mercy, solidarity, the right to be part of any community, the intrinsic value in human migration, the need to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate as key elements of the Church’s vision on migrants and refugees. On the challenge to African Church Communication, he said Cardinal Michael Czerny, Prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, speaking as papal representative at the 140th anniversary celebration of the evangelisation of the Congo, highlighted the link between evangelisation and the promotion of the human person and the social magisterium of Pope Francis, which appears, especially in the Apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and the encyclicals Laudato Si and Fratelli Tutti.”
Among other things, the Bishop spoke on human mobility and the Church in Africa, the communicative dimension. He listed interrogating current paradigms, engaging the digital transformation of the world to give migrants a voice, appropriating pacts and treaties outside the Church, compiling database, prioritising networking of Catholic resources, reinforcing existent communication structures in the African Church, among others as what must be done.