Migration Seen as Calling for Christians' "Risk of Gift"

Also Viewed as Opportunity for Interreligious Dialogue

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The phenomenon of voluntary or forced migration constitutes a call to Christians to live the «risk of gift,» says a Vatican official.

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, came to this conclusion today when opening the second day of a congress on organized by the Holy See and being held this week at the Augustinianum Patristic Institute of Rome.

The archbishop’s address served to offer new possibilities for the «mission to migrants» — a «burning» issue, he says, for the Church in the era of globalization.

«Forced or voluntary immigration brings to light the need to effect a profound transformation of institutions and persons to create and experience a culture of acceptance, Christian love which is neither blind nor quaint, but genuine, given the different cultures, using in addition to hospitality, the grammar of dialogue, reciprocal respect, and intercultural and interreligious coexistence,» Archbishop Marchetto stressed.

Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said, «Just as every human being has the right to recognition and respect of his own identity, which does not exonerate him from his duties to the collectivity, every cultural minority has a right to the recognition of its own identity.»

The lack of respect for this right is a «source of humiliation, awakens intense claims, and very often acquires the form of extreme violence,» he said.

Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, added that the phenomenon of migration «can constitute a propitious occasion for interreligious dialogue which is one of the greatest challenges of our time.»

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