Participants attend the SIGNIS Africa Conference Participants attend the SIGNIS Africa Conference 

Voice of universal and African Church shines at SIGNIS conference

Catholic media professionals attending the SIGNIS Africa Conference in Kampala explore ways to develop new strategies to portray migrants and refugees with respect, while creating partnerships with civil society.

By Fr. Paul Samasumo - Kampala

The ongoing SIGNIS Africa Conference for Catholic Media taking place in Kampala, Uganda, has heard from the voice of the Church, Ugandan government officials and Ugandan civil society working with migrants and refugees.

From a universal point of view, Cardinal Michael Czerny’s keynote address entitled “Pope Francis’ vision of migration and refugees: Lessons for media workers” was read by an official of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Doctor Mercedes De La Torre.

According to Cardinal Czerny’s message, Catholic media can play an important part in contributing to a form of communication that is not hostile but rather one that favours a respectful dialogue.

'An African lexicon'

Speaking on behalf of SECAM - the Association of African Catholic Bishops, Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Nigeria called on African Catholic media to consider developing new media strategies for speaking and writing about migrants and refugees, including coming up with an African lexicon that differs from the usual stereotypes of Western media.

Representatives of the Ugandan Government shared how the country’s policies on refugees are informed by what is known as the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework.

Representing Uganda’s civil society, the Refugee Law project of the School of Law at Makerere University made a passionate appeal to the Catholic Church in Africa to create more partnerships by signing Memoranda of Understanding with civil society to benefit migrants and refugees.

They said that their research revealed that more could also be done by the Church in the area of counselling and trauma for migrants and refugees.

Apart from discussions, African Catholic media practitioners visited and prayed for migrants and refugees at the Ugandan Martyrs Shrine.

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13 July 2023, 09:41