The Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference on Friday condemned the actions of the South African Police Service in its raid on a Johannesburg Methodist church that was sheltering hundreds of immigrants, News24.com reports.
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier criticized the Wednesday night raid as a “manifestation of xenophobia,” saying, "We join Bishop Paul Verryn of the Methodist Church in decrying the violation of the status of the church as a place of sanctuary."
"By providing shelter to the homeless, the stranger and the refugee the church was carrying out the injunction of Jesus Christ," he continued.
Cardinal Napier said the Zimbabweans detained in the raid should be regarded as refugees because they had left their homes because of “events seriously disturbing public order,” a reason that would protect them under the Refugee Convention of the Organization of African Unity.
"Police action was entirely inappropriate, uncalled for and an unwelcome manifestation of xenophobia. It is not how refugees should be treated.
"Indeed, it is not how any human being should be treated by officials of a state committed to upholding human dignity," Cardinal Napier said, according to News24.com.