Vatican Notes Concern for South Africa

Expresses Hope for End to Anti-Immigrant Violence

VATICAN CITY, MAY 27, 2008 ( The Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers is expressing its solidarity with victims of xenophobic violence in South Africa.

A telegram of solidarity and support was sent Monday to Archbishop Buti Joseph Tlhagale of Johannesburg, signed by Cardinal Renato Martino and Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, respectively president and secretary of the dicastery.

The violence against immigrants began May 11 in Alexandra, a poor suburb near the commercial areas of Johannesburg; it soon spread to the surrounding areas.

Over the past two weeks, at least 50 immigrants from countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique have been killed. The aggressors — gangs of poor South Africans, armed with machetes and firearms — accuse the immigrants of stealing jobs and raising the level of crime.

Perhaps as many as 100,000 immigrants have fled their homes and are living in temporary camps to escape the violence.

In the telegram, the pontifical council expressed the hope that “with the fraternal intervention of the Church and of all people of good will, a final solution will be found for this and other similar situations, and that the people of the region will once again be able to live in peace, solidarity and with prospects of integral development.”

The Fides news agency reported that the archbishop of Johannesburg expressed his “profound shame and concern” about the events, warning that “an ‘apartheid’ mentality is killing the country.”

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