On the Pastoral Care of Migrants in Asia

«The Poor Are the Real Treasure of the Church»

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 6, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is an address from Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, for a conference organized by that dicastery in collaboration with the episcopal conference of Thailand. The three-day conference begins today, focused on the pastoral care of migrants and refugees in Asia.

The general theme is: «Towards a better pastoral care for Migrants and Refugees in Asia at the dawn of the Third Millennium.»

The sub-theme is: «Walking with and towards Jesus Christ, present in the refugees:new pastoral itineraries.»

* * *

As the new millennium begins, the need for the Church’s specific pastoral care in favour of refugees is more necessary than ever. In fact the conditions that produce forced migration have multiplied, rather than diminished. Indeed there are many who still need to experience something of the «Lord’s year of favour,» which Jesus Christ proclaimed at the beginning of his ministry (cf. Lk 4:18-22).

The Church has a duty and a responsibility to constantly give a new beginning to the Lord’s ministry as it takes the gospel to the ends of the earth. In the person of Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God has been made visible and tangible among humankind, and Christians continue to proclaim the good news of salvation, particularly to the poor, by their words and deeds. Among the most abandoned of the poor are without doubt those who are refugees and forcibly displaced persons. In many circumstances Church related associations and agencies, inspired by the gospel, or individuals who, often with great generosity and personal sacrifice, make Christ’s love and the transforming power of his Kingdom felt in those situations that are the most desperate.

The Kingdom of God is indeed present in our world (cf. Lumen Gentium 3 & 5), but Christ’s disciples have the duty of making it spread to all nations (cf. Mt 28) until the parousia when God will be all in all. Till then, we are obliged, because of the Kingdom and its values, to be instruments of its growth from a tiny mustard seed into a mighty tree (cf. Mt 17:20), so that it may overcome evil with good and division with reconciliation, until when the Lord comes in glory and the heavens and earth will be made new. In fact «What we are waiting for is what he promised: the new heavens and new earth, the place where righteousness will be at home» (2 Pt 13).

The Church today is guided in its commitment to refugees, displaced and trafficked people not only by the teaching of the Gospel but also by the «permanent principles» of her «social doctrine [that] constitute the very heart of Catholic social teaching. These are the principles of the dignity of the human person … which is the foundation of all the other principles and content of the Church’s social doctrine: the common good, subsidiarity and solidarity»[1]. If this God-given and exalted position of the human person is violated, then all members of the Body of Christ suffer and are accordingly called to see, act and correct this evil and sin.

The Spirit of the Risen Lord in the hearts of believers and the Church’s constant preaching of the gospel are the major driving forces that impel Christians to this active concern for refugees and forcibly displaced people so that, uniting their efforts with other men and women of good will, they may bring liberation to this sorrowful situation. We must, therefore, walk with and towards Jesus Christ, present in the refugees, as it is said in the title of this talk.

Barely a month after his election to the Pontificate, in April 2005, Pope Benedict XVI spoke in favour of refugees in connection with the celebration of World Refugee Day, promoted by the United Nations every 20th of June. The Pope emphasized «the strength of spirit demanded of those who have to leave everything, sometimes even their family, to escape grave problems and dangers».[2] He also affirmed that the Christian community «feels close to all who are experiencing this painful condition» and therefore tries its best «to encourage them» and show «its interest and love».[3] This is done through «concrete gestures of solidarity so that everyone who is far from his own Country will feel the Church as a homeland where no one is a stranger».[4] For the same occasion, the following year, Pope Benedict expressed «the hope that the rights of these people will always be respected».[5]

In 2007, the UN’s World Refugee Day fell on a Wednesday and so, from the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall, the Holy Father voiced an appeal[6] «to welcome refugees and give them hospitality» as «gestures of human solidarity» and as an expression «of evangelical love» on the part of Christians. Not only this, he also expressed the «heartfelt wish that these brothers and sisters of ours, who have gone through the harsh ordeal of suffering, may be guaranteed asylum and the recognition of their rights». This time, he invited «the leaders of Nations to offer protection to those who find themselves in such delicate situations of need.»

So far we have cited words that the Holy Father pronounced on the occasion of World Refugee Days promoted by the United Nations, but the Popes also send Messages every year for the Catholic celebration of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees[7], in which we can find an encouragement to walk with and towards Jesus Christ, present in the refugees.

The Church’s Mission in favour of Refugees

These quotations recount how refugees are always in the heart of the Church. Limiting now ourselves to the not very far past, in the Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris, Pope John XXIII affirmed that «refugees are persons and all their rights as persons must be recognized»[8]. Since then, the Catholic Church has not ceased to appeal to the international Community in their favour and to call for solidarity and collaboration from each Christian and person of goodwill.

So in 1981, just a few years after the beginning of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II asserted that what the Church undertakes in favour of refugees is an integral part of its mission. During his visit to the Refugee Camp in Morong, in the Philippines, he said: «The fact that the Church carries out extensive relief efforts on behalf of refugees, especially in recent years, should not be a source of surprise to anyone. Indeed this is an integral part of the Church’s mission in the world».[9]

At a later date, John Paul II defined the nature of this mission in this way:

The Church’s mission for our brothers and sisters who are migrants or refugees is unique. […] Although dealing respectfully and generously with their material problems is the first duty to be fulfilled, one must not forget their spiritual formation, through specific pastoral programmes which take into account their language and culture.[10]

Assistance, therefore takes into consideration both the material and the spiritual needs of the individual and this confirms the pastoral nature of this ministry of ours.

Moreover, just as any person needs a family for his or her proper growth and development, so refugees too must not be deprived of such kindred. For this reason the Church has always called for the reunification of families whose separation is caused by the flight of one of its members. In his Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2007, Pope Benedict the XVI brought to the attention of the public this plight of the families of refugees:

I feel it my duty to call your attention to the families of refugees, whose conditions seem to have gone worse in comparison with the past, also specifically regarding the reunification of family nuclei. In the camps assigned to them, in addition to logistic difficulties, and those of a personal character linked to the trauma and emotional stress caused by the tr
agic experiences they went through, sometimes there is also the risk of women and children being involved in sexual exploitation, as a survival mechanism. In these cases an attentive pastoral presence is necessary. Aside from giving assistance capable of healing the wounds of the heart, pastoral care should also offer the support of the Christian community, able to restore the culture of respect and have the true value of love found again. It is necessary to encourage those who are interiorly-wrecked to recover trust in themselves. Everything must also be done to guarantee the rights and dignity of the families and to assure them housing facilities according to their needs».[11]

Coming now to our Pontifical Council, and going back to 1992, we published a Document entitled Refugees, a Challenge to Solidarity[12]. Regarding help to refugees, it clearly states that «the responsibility to offer refugees hospitality, solidarity and assistance lies first of all with the local Church. She is called on to incarnate the demands of the Gospel, reaching out without distinction towards these people in their moment of need and solitude. Her task takes on various forms: personal contact; defence of the rights of individuals and groups; the denunciation of the injustices that are at the root of this evil; action for the adoption of laws that will guarantee their effective protection; education against xenophobia; the creations of groups of volunteers and of emergency funds; pastoral care. She also seeks to instil in refugees a respectful behaviour and an openness towards the host country» (no. 26).

However, the Church feels it also her mission (as prophecy, ministry of «advocacy») to build an awareness that the refugee situation has to change with the efforts of all those who are in the position to do something to make a difference in this respect. Such a dramatic situation cannot and should not last forever. Speaking to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, John Paul II stated:

The Church believes that it is also her duty to exhort the authorities to change this situation. […] It is necessary to repeat that this is an abnormal situation, that it is necessary to give a remedy to their causes, by trying to convince nations that refugees have a right to freedom and to human dignity in their country. It is also necessary to appeal more and more for hospitality, admittance into countries that can receive refugees. Finally, it is necessary to organize international mutual aid, a reciprocal help that does not dispense the refugees from taking care of themselves little by little, since this too is a path of dignity.[13]

The Holy See once again appealed for solidarity at a very significant Ministerial Conference of the 140 Signatory States of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, held on 9th December 2001 in Geneva, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the institution of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Your servant, as Representative of the Holy See, in that circumstance, affirmed: «Our task is to make solidarity a reality. It implies acceptance and recognition of the fact that we, as one human family, are interdependent. It calls us to international cooperation in favour of the poor and powerless as our own brothers and sisters … Effective responsibility and burden sharing among all States is therefore indispensable to promote peace and stability. This should be an inspiration for the human family of nations to reflect on the challenges of today and find the required solutions in a spirit of dialogue and mutual understanding».[14]

At present a further step is necessary in the pastoral field, and, in order to understand more in depth what the change of the situation and liberation mean and are called to be, we need to examine, as a framework, our Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People’s Instruction «Erga migrantes caritas Christi»[15], certainly without «invading» yesterday’s talks and discussion.

Let us, therefore, now turn to what is specific to our Pontifical Council and to yourself.

The Pastoral Care of forced Migrants

A. the Prophetic Mission of the Church

In the Church no one is a stranger because she embraces «every nation, race, people and tongue»(Rev. 7:9). Moreover, in her, Christ is present[16], so that she walks with and towards Jesus Christ, present in the refugees. Above all

the Church’s unity does not stem from her members having an identical national or ethnic origin but from the Spirit of Pentecost, who makes all nations a new people whose goal is the kingdom, whose condition is the freedom of sons and daughters, and whose statute is the law of love (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 9).[17]

That is why the Church, «sign and instrument of communion with God and unity among men, feels herself to be closely involved in the evolution of civilisation of which mobility is a striking feature»,[18] and is therefore called to proclaim peace also in situations of forced migration.

Here it is a question of actively helping individuals and groups currently suffering exclusion and marginalization to become part of the process of economic and human development. For affluent regions of the world, this means that changes in lifestyles are called for, a change in the models of production and consumption; in developing areas, a change in the established structures of power-sharing, both political and economic, is often required. For the entire human family, it means meeting the many serious challenges posed by armed aggression and violent conflict, realities that involve not only peoples and states but also non-institutional organizations, such as paramilitary and terrorist groups. In the face of such threats, no one can fail to feel the urgent moral duty to work actively towards promoting peace and understanding among peoples, a task which depends in no small part on the establishment – in justice – of a genuine and effective solidarity.[19]

However, it is not enough to recall principles, state intentions, point to crying injustice and utter prophetic denunciations; these words will lack real weight unless they are accompanied for each individual by a livelier awareness of personal responsibility and by effective action.[20]

Then people separated from their homes or land will find a place wherein to live in peace, security and happiness.

B. A Specific Pastoral Care

I. Marked by a distinctive Spirituality

To walk with and towards Jesus Christ, present in the refugees, a fundamental biblical vision has to sustain us. In this regard, – as I said – our Pontifical Council has already published the Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi (The Love of Christ towards Migrants), valid also for refugees and IDPs, as well as for international (foreign) students, with some sections dedicated to Holy Scriptures[21].

Deep within the history of salvation, presented to us first through the pages of the Old Testament, we can already find different views as to how foreigners must be treated (cf. Lev 19:34). These were understood at a time when the people of God were themselves sojourners in a foreign land (cf. Deut. 24:17-22). On the one hand there was some fear that relations with foreigners might lead to a loss of religious purity and consequently of national identity. The Israelites, in fact, had to protect themselves against this, with the consequential behaviour whereby intermarriages were forbidden and observances of purity needed to be followed (cf. Num. 35.15, Deut. 7:3, Deut. 13: 6-9).

On the other hand, the stranger was to be treated in the same way as the Israelites (cf. Lev. 19:34). Above all, there is a concern for them, based on justice also for those who were vulnerable: the poor, the widows, the orphans. They were often
subject to oppression, exploitation and discrimination, which were against the Law of God. The Israelites were therefore frequently reminded of God’s special concern for the weak (cf. Ex. 22:21-22, Deut. 10,17-19), and ordered not to molest them (cf. Ex 22:20, Jer. 7:6). They were not to be abused (cf. Deut. 24,14) and were to receive equal treatment before the Law (cf. Deut. 1:16, 24:17, 27:19). In any case religion had to correspond to a given way of life (cf. Jer. 58: 6-12).

Jesus Christ assumed the same attitude with a preference for those who were excluded. They were considered ritually unclean, impure – the lepers, the slaves, the tax collector, the possessed, the stranger. They were denied full rights by the community.

By way of contrast, Jesus Christ showed particular attention to the poor and the sick. He does not hesitate to associate himself with foreigners. We recall the meeting with the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4:9), his stay among the Samaritans (cf. Jn 4:40), and his conversation with the centurion (cf. Mt. 8:11-12), whose faith he praised above that of the Israelites. In the parable of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-37) it becomes clear that mercy and compassion are above ritual purity.

Our Lord confirms his presence in a special way in the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the sick, the prisoner. For the stranger he states: «I was a stranger and you welcomed me» (Mt. 25:35). The protection of foreigners stands here at the same level as God’s care for the poor, the widows and the orphans. Central to love for the stranger is the fundamental commandment of Christ, valid for all: «Love one another, just as I have loved you» (Jn 13: 34-35).

The early Christian community both promoted and transmitted this attitude. It became an endeavour to fraternity, to equality and unity among different people who gave witness to Him and announced the Gospel. «There is no room for distinction between Greek and Jew, between the circumcised or the uncircumcised, or between barbarian and Scythian, slave and free man. There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything» (Col. 3:11).

Therefore hospitality became a central theme and practice for the early Christian community.[22] When travelling to spread the gospel, Christians, as strangers, depended on hospitality. Sometimes this could be organised, (cf. Acts 18:27, Philemon 22), or they were welcomed (cf. Acts 16,15). Otherwise they made contacts through the synagogue as soon as they arrived in a city (cf. Acts 9:20, 13:5, 14:1, 17:1, 17:10). Other possibilities were to use a tent or to rent a room. Hospitality that included food, shelter and protection was also seen a sign of the human worth of the stranger.

They met as one body in Christ, without making distinction between the different social groups (Jas 2:1), even if there was not always coherence on this. Inspired by Luke 14:12-14, hospitality was extended to the poor. Welcome, compassion and equal treatment were all part of a characteristic Christian response. As people of their time and place, they respected the social order of society, though appeals were made to treat slaves as brothers (cf. Philemon 16-17). This was also an important attitude that eventually came to transform society.

Hospitality little by little became an integral component of Christianity with structures given to its practice, for example in the monasteries, in the setting up of hospices for pilgrims, and hospitals for the sick, whilst at the same time not forgetting the needs of the local poor. Special homes for widows and the poor were created. Gradually care for the poor changed and became institutionalised. However, though the care for those who needed assistance, among them migrants and itinerant people, changed in successive generations, it had always remained central to Christianity.

This concern has been expressed and manifested by the Church on numerous occasions especially during the last century.[23] Annual Pontifical Messages on Migration were written by the Popes since the beginning of the XX century, while its Magna Charta, the Apostolic Constitution Exsul Familia, was published in 1952.[24] The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and successive interventions of the Magisterium faced this phenomenon, seen as a new sign of the times,[25] by providing for specific pastoral approaches.

Thus Pope Pius XII expressed his concern about Palestinian refugees in the Encyclical letter Redemptoris Nostri[26], in 1949, while Pope John XXIII drew attention to the suffering and the rights of refugees in the Encyclical letter Pacem in Terris[27] in 1963, as far as refugees, specifically, are concerned. In 1970 Pope Paul VI instituted the Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migration and Tourism which, in 1988, with the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, became the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. It was also entrusted with the care of all who «have been forced to abandon their homeland, as well as those who have none».[28]

II. A Pastoral Care based on the values of the Kingdom of God

The Church is guided in its commitment to refugees and displaced and trafficked people – as I said – by the «permanent principles» of its social Doctrine, which is part of her moral teaching:

In today’s complex situation, not least because of the growth of a globalized economy, the Church’s social doctrine has become a set of fundamental guidelines offering approaches that are valid even beyond the confines of the Church.[29]

Human and Christian Dignity

The dignity of the individual person[30] plays a central role in the social Doctrine of the Church and is based on the belief that we are made in the image of God (cf. Gen 1:26). In fact that is the basis of its social vision for society: «Individual human beings are the foundation, the cause and the end of every social institution.»[31] Every person is precious, people are more important than things, and the measure of the value of every institution is whether or not it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person. Already in 1961 the Encyclical Pacem in Terris stated:

Every man has the right to life, to bodily integrity, and to the means which are suitable for the proper development of life; these are primarily food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, and finally the necessary social services.[32]

It can be deduced that if somebody does not enjoy a decent in her/his country, s/he has the right, under given circumstances, to move elsewhere.[33] Each human person in fact has an essential and priceless value, a dignity which should not be threatened. «The Magisterium has likewise always denounced social and economic imbalances that are, for the most part, the cause of migration, the dangers of an uncontrolled globalisation in which migrants are more the victims than the protagonists of their migration.»[34]

Solidarity and assistance

Solidarity is linked to the understanding that we are one human family, whatever may be our national, racial, ethnic, economic or ideological differences, and that we are dependent on one another. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they live. So, «The ‘foreigner’ is God’s messenger who surprises us and interrupts the regularity and logic of daily life, bringing near those who are far away. In ‘foreigners’ the Church sees Christ who ‘pitches His tent among us’ (cf. Jn 1:14) and who ‘knocks at our door’ (cf. Rev 3:20)»[35]. Thus we walk with and towards Jesus Christ, present in the refugees.

Solidarity is the working out of love and justice in practice:

This principle is frequently stated by Pope Leo XIII, who uses the term ‘friendship’, a concept already fo
und in Greek philosophy. Pope Pius XI refers to it with the equally meaningful term ‘social charity’. Pope Paul VI, expanding the concept to cover the many modern aspects of the social question, speaks of a ‘civilization of love’.»[36] «Solidarity is undoubtedly a Christian virtue. In what has been said so far it has been possible to identify many points of contact between solidarity and charity, which is the distinguishing mark of Christ’s disciples (cf. Jn 13:35). In the light of faith, solidarity seeks to go beyond itself, to take on the specifically Christian dimension of total gratuity, forgiveness and reconciliation.[37]

Those who are more powerful or influential because of their increased wealth should feel responsible for the weaker and be ready to help them. Solidarity calls us to stand united (for «advocacy») with the poor and powerless, as with our own brothers and sisters. Therefore

Welcoming refugees and offering them hospitality is for everyone a rightful gesture of human solidarity, so that they do not feel isolated as a result of intolerance and indifference.[38]

This has been done by the Church in many different ways throughout history but each time and every situation require that an adequate answer be given. So to practice solidarity today means learning that «loving our neighbour» has global dimensions in an interdependent world, as Pope Benedict said:

It is more necessary than ever that Christians offer the witness of a solidarity that crosses every border to build a world in which all feel welcomed and respected.[39]

Challenges for Solidarity and International Cooperation

The Catholic Church is aware of the gravity of the refugee situation and the inhuman conditions they suffer.[40] She feels that this serious problem can be faced only if there is a sincere international effort to work together towards a solution. Whilst she expresses her appreciation for what individual governments carry out for refugees and gratitude for the work done by local Churches and Church organizations in this regard, the Catholic Church has continuously called for international support for such efforts.

When the International John XXIII Peace Prize of 1986 was awarded to the Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees (COERR), a Church organization based in Thailand, Pope John Paul II said:

The recognition that was given to COERR today clearly underlines the importance that the Apostolic See attaches to the work that the Organization is doing in one of the most tormented afflicted zones in the world in this century. […] The Thai people is giving an example of solidarity towards persons in difficulty. […] It has opened its doors and its heart to these neighbours. […] The Thai people must not be left alone in bearing the heavy burden of responsibility and assistance in that region of the world. […] It is necessary for the different Nations in the world to collaborate in order to be able to offer a new country where those who want it may settle down. Only political solidarity in a wide scale can give a satisfactory solution to this serious and old problem.[41]

More recently, in his address to the Council Members of the International Catholic Migration Commission, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation, Pope John Paul II underlined the importance of advocacy with governments and international organizations, as well as that of ecumenical and inter-religious cooperation:

In the time since your foundation, […] your work grows more urgent as the problem of refugees grows ever more acute. […] I wish to invite you to an ever deeper awareness of your mission: to see Christ in every brother and sister in need, to proclaim and defend the dignity of every migrant, every displaced person and every refugee. In this way, assistance given will not be considered an alms from the goodness of our heart, but an act of justice due to them. We live in a world in which […] we see greater ethnic, cultural and religious tensions. […] That is why the Commission’s advocacy with governments and international organizations and its promotion of laws and policies to protect the defenceless are especially important aspects of its mission.[42]

During the III World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, Pope John Paul II very aptly summarized what the Catholic Church believes international solidarity should consist in:

However demanding it may be, this effort at real international solidarity, based on a broader concept of the common good, is the way which can guarantee everyone a truly better future. In order for this to happen, it is necessary for a culture of solidarity and interdependence to spread and deeply penetrate the universal conscience and in this way sensitize public authorities, international organizations and private citizens to the duty of accepting and sharing with those who are poorest. But the long-term planning of policies which promote solidarity must be accompanied by attention to the immediate problems of migrants and refugees who continue to press against the borders of the nations which enjoy a high level of industrial development. In the recent Encyclical Centesimus annus I stated: ‘It will be necessary to abandon a mentality in which the poor – as individuals and as peoples – are considered a burden, as irksome intruders. […] The advancement of the poor constitutes a great opportunity for the moral, cultural and even economic growth of all humanity. […] It is not enough, however to open one’s doors […] and allow them to enter; one must also make it easier for them to become a real part of the society which receives them. Solidarity must become a daily experience of assistance, sharing and participation.[43]

The Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi explains further what welcoming migrants and refugees means, with appropriate distinctions: «It is of course useful and correct to distinguish between assistance in a general sense (a first, short-term welcome), true welcome in the full sense (longer-term projects) and integration (an aim to be pursued constantly over a long period and in the true sense of the word). Pastoral workers with competence in cultural mediation – and our Catholic communities too should ensure that they have such people – are called upon to help bridge the legitimate requirements of order, legality and social security with the Christian vocation to welcome others with practical expressions of love.»[44]

When discussing Pope John Paul II’s view regarding globalization, it is also necessary to emphasise his call to «globalize solidarity» and to make everyone aware of his/her responsibility to be a primary actor in this regard:

Solidarity is the Christian response, both personal and collective, also for globalization, It begins in everyone’s heart, when he considers the other – and not only the poor – a brother, a sister, rather even more, because he is a member of the Body of Christ itself. And in exercising responsibility, no one can take my place in doing what I can do. Let each one of us therefore feel called to respond personally.[45]

The Catholic Church also calls for the protection of the rights of displaced persons who have not crossed their country’s frontiers, in fact «the protection of human rights of internally displaced persons requires the adoption of specific and appropriate juridical instruments and of mechanisms of coordination on the part of the international community, whose legitimate interventions cannot be considered as violations of national sovereignty.»[46]

III. New pastoral itineraries at the dawn of the Third Millennium

(particular aspects of the specific pastoral care for forced migrants)

Ecclesial Hospitality and eventual integration in the local Church

Still at the dawn of the Third Millennium, welcome is a fundamental characteristic of pastoral ministry among re
fugees and IDPs.[47] It guarantees that we address the other as a person and eventually as a brother/sister in the faith and prevents us from approaching him/her as a problem or as a source of work. Welcome is not so much a task but rather a way of living and of sharing. Offering hospitality grows out of an effort to be faithful to God, to hear His voice in the Scriptures and in those around us. In hospitality, the stranger is welcomed into a safe, personal, and comfortable place, one of respect and acceptance and friendship, in the local Church. Such welcome involves attentive listening and a mutual sharing of life stories. It requires an openness of heart, a willingness to make one’s life visible to others, and a generosity of giving time and resources.

An ecclesial community which gives hospitality to strangers is a «sign of contradiction», a place where joy and pain, cries and peace are closely interwoven. This becomes particularly visible in societies that are hostile to those who are welcomed. To offer hospitality means to repeatedly rethink and reshape priorities. Closeness forged in welcome contradicts some contemporary messages and mentality.

Restoring Christian dignity

Those who have had to flee their homes need more than just emergency assistance, such as food and shelter. They particularly need to be considered as fellow human beings or brothers/sisters in the faith. Newly arrived and far from their homes, they feel insecure and struggle to get accustomed to a new life and unfamiliar surroundings. Moreover, frequent combat, ethnic violence, massacres, murder of family members, rape, torture, severe food shortages, forced marches or other human rights violations may have had their influence on them.

They have lived, individually and collectively, traumatic experiences which have left their scars. Some may feel guilty that they are safe, whilst their relatives and friends were unable to be so. Others are still full of fear, sometimes wounded and/or traumatized. The past is still very present within them and influencing their lives. People have to deal with the events of the past so that they can see a future again. This is especially true for children who are the most severely affected by the trauma experienced during their development; their physical, psychological and spiritual balance is therefore seriously jeopardized. The importance of this period of childhood is well known.[48]

A special group of children and/or young adolescents are child soldiers, who, willingly or unwillingly, have joined factions to fight and to perform horrifying acts. Likewise the importance of a community that both receives and welcomes is essential if these children are to start rebuilding their lives with new aspirations and hope.

Taking into consideration also their religious dimension, the ultimate goal is a life in which they can fulfil their human potential through productive labour, assume their rights and duties in their host country and contribute to the common good. This is part of the «dream» of a peaceful world.

Every person needs a safe environment in which to live. Refugees aspire to this but unfortunately, millions in various countries of the world are still living in refugee camps or prevented for long periods from fully exercising their rights.[49]

Hope, courage, love and creativity should be offered so that lives can be restored. From our point of view, in the face of such situations, priority must clearly be given to a concerted effort to provide specific moral and spiritual support for these people. In this, the local Christian community must be of great support. Moreover, it is necessary to put in place conditions which enable people to pick up the thread of normal life and start living independently, giving them the possibility to take care of themselves and their families. The rights to which refugees are entitled should be honoured.[50]

What is more, the root causes which force people to flee need to be addressed. This is stressed by some Post-Synodical Apostolic Exhortations. The one for Africa declares: «The ideal solution» – to address the phenomenon of refugees and displaced persons – «is the re-establishment of a just peace, reconciliation and economic development.»[51] This needs, states the Post-Synodical Apostolic Exhortation to Europe, «a courageous commitment on the part of all to bring about a more just international economic order capable of promoting the authentic development of every people and country,»[52] which should be, affirms the Apostolic Exhortation to America, «dominated not only by the profit motive but also by the pursuit of the common good of nations and of the international community, the equitable distribution of goods and the integral development of people.»[53]

Establishing the necessary pastoral structures

The local Church must be involved[54] with people on the move in a pastoral way. Their presence has to become visible in the services of parishes, be they territorial or personal, in missions «cum cura animarum«, charitable organisations, ecclesial movements, new communities and, last but not least, religious congregations. There must also be national or diocesan/eparchial pastoral structures. The day to day approach is first and foremost a responsibility of the parish.[55] In fact, welcoming Christ in our needy brothers and sisters is the condition for being able to meet him «face to face» and then ‘perfectly’ at the end of our earthly journey.[56] The parish can thus live out, in a new way, its ancient vocation as «a house where a guest feels at ease».[57] If necessary, personal parishes or missions «cum cura animarum» can be created to better cope with the pastoral necessities.[58]

The classical form of mission «cum cura animarum» (with spiritual care), where pastoral solicitude has been exercised in several areas, is still valid today and includes social justice, because «social justice and peace is an integral part of the Church’s mission in the world.»[59]

Over the years countless examples of selfless and heroic actions by members of local Churches, who have received refugees, can be narrated, some even at the cost of their lives and properties. In those places which are potential areas for the arrival of refugees or IDPs, because of previous experiences, it is the task of the local Church to be prepared and organized to face such a challenge. «The Church seeks to be present with and among the refugee community, accompanying them during their flight, their period of exile, and their return to the home community or country of resettlement.»[60] We must walk with and towards Jesus Christ, present in the refugees, as we have said.

Three Consultations in 1998, held to improve coordination of the Church in Africa in facing the refugee crisis, strengthened an earlier idea of having «Pastors without Borders», which is «a team of qualified pastoral agents ready to help by offering their competence when there is need.»[61] The idea was that responses would be built up in order to be close to refugees, and then organise pastoral care for them. This initiative was introduced by Pope Paul VI who, already in the seventies, stated:

The pastoral care required by the people on the move is necessarily a pastoral care without frontiers … suitable instruments can only be found through collaboration and solidarity between the churches concerned.[62]

Maybe we should think again about this issue.

Such a preparation is multifaceted and not only logistical and humanitarian, but also spiritual and formative, as part of an «authentic culture of welcome».[63] Final responsibility for this must lie on the Bishops[64] in order to assure pastoral care for these people. Collaboration in this, between the Church of origin and the Church of arrival, is indispensable[65] and coordination must be offered by the Episcopal Conferences. Thus the Church of origin is obliged to follow up her members who, for whatever reason, m
ove elsewhere, while the Church of arrival assumes new duties because they have now become her members. Both are called to keep up their specific pastoral responsibilities in the light of a lively and practically expressed sense of communion.[66]

Over the years these responsibilities have been stressed, strengthened and better determined by a number of Post-Synodical Apostolic Exhortations. They speak, for example, about a «hospitable and welcoming attitude which can encourage them to become part of the Church’s life,»[67] being «a welcoming home to the weary and heavy-burdened,»[68] who must find «a homeland everywhere in the Church.»[69] The appeals are in favour of «these people (refugees and displaced persons) [so that they] be given material help and offered pastoral support wherever they may be, whether in Africa or on other Continents,»[70] «creating and continually improving services of welcome and pastoral attention for immigrants and refugees, in order to ensure respect for their dignity and freedom and to promote their integration.»[71] Of course, «pastoral policies will have to be revised, so that each particular Church can offer the faithful more personalized religious care, strengthen the structures of communion and mission.»[72]

Depending on the judgement of the local Ordinary, larger camps can become parishes or similar territorial pastoral structures. If the number of faithful is too small for this solution, they could be members of ‘outstations’ or missions «cum cura animarum» depending on a nearby parish[73].

Thus, by participating in the rhythms of the liturgical year, the celebration of the Sacraments and other familiar religious activities and services, refugees too can find the strength needed to bear the harsh trial of exile and grow in Christ’s paschal mystery, reassured that «all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose» (Rom 8:28).

This pastoral ministry, in cooperation with specialists in this difficult field of healing when possible, is directed toward bringing the consolation and healing of Christ to refugees, IDPs and trafficked people, who have suffered severe human rights violations. It should also include those who, albeit unwillingly, caused these sufferings, in particular those who have been child soldiers. «In countries where – it was said recently – violent conflict is raging, [the Church] has reached out to former child soldiers. Activities are undertaken for their socio-economic integration into society, but also to heal the wounds of these former combatants and their receiving family and/or community.»[74]

In this context, may we repeat that the presence of pastoral agents from the refugees’ and IDPs’ Church of origin, who know their language and cultural background, is highly desirable if not essential,[75] without overlooking the fact that local catechists, who themselves have been uprooted, are sometimes already present among the displaced populations, and this is a grace for them. In fact, they can offer a notable contribution to the life of the Christian Community.

In addition, it would be worthwhile for the receiving local Church to pay attention to the training of refugee catechists, especially during the mass movement of refugees, which sometimes last for many years. This period of preparation could also provide a valuable contribution and assistance to their Church of origin, sometimes even leading to the revival of Christian communities once they decide to return home.

Collaboration among local Churches

In the field of cooperation, we have to remember the international Catholic charitable organisations[76] which are involved in welfare and development activities towards the restoration of human and Christian dignity, according to the likeness of God. Empowered by the Holy Spirit and stimulated by the teachings of the Church they are called to put into action their commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their Christian values play an important role in the self-awareness and self-realization of such organizations. This identity shows what they are, as compared to other organisations, as they maintain what makes them distinct. It determines the activities which will be undertaken, expresses human and Christian convictions, and allows themselves to be recognized, for what they truly are.

Catholic charitable organizations should be present in situations of need in the name of Jesus Christ, both the Person and the «value» at their core[77], and have to be guided by his Spirit in serving, sacrificing, creating awareness, analysing, advocating and dialoguing. With the Catholic Social Doctrine as their «horizon,» they should try to achieve a society with equal opportunities, a disappearance of social prejudices, close neighbourliness, solidarity and care for one another, and respect for human rights. All this must be done in collaboration with the local Church from the beginning of the projects up to their completion. When possible and suitable, these organisations need to be open to collaboration with those that are non-Catholic. In any case, it is important to avoid leaving a vacuum once a programme has ended. The question on how the local Church may be strengthened, so that it can take up any future challenge, should be raised.

However, in their ministry of service, Catholic charitable organizations have frequently become dependent on specific non-Catholic resources for their funding, and sometimes even appear to be in competition among themselves in the search of available funding. There is therefore a real danger that once an Organization realizes where funds are obtainable, it will listen only to given voices, thereby enabling donors to set their policies. Consequently there is a risk for these charitable organizations to become «donor driven», rather than «mission-driven,» which can put their identity into question. Therefore, this risk must be taken seriously.

Since some local Churches lack adequate resources for their normal life and activity, sudden arrival of refugees or movement of IDPs can result in almost impossible situations. This becomes even more crucial when the majority of cases are protracted for years, exceeding all financial possibilities.[78] This inevitably means seeking assistance from aid organizations. Such a difficult task can be rendered easier if several organisations are able to function together as a single agency, to which all applications and appropriate information can be directed. Subsequently the agencies would be able to carry out the necessary evaluation of projects together, thus simplifying procedures.

The question is how authentic solidarity, hospitality and pastoral commitment of the Church can be expressed. This is to allow local communities to have the possibility of addressing the holistic needs of refugees, IDPs and trafficked people, to support their pastoral engagement and small social welfare assistance projects, to adequately train pastoral agents, to sustain apostolic structures and to intervene in upcoming conflicts at an early stage. Understanding what it means to share resources according to these needs requires an updating of the present programmes of social assistance in the Church. Therefore, traditional and innovative steps need to be taken so that the local Church can take up this challenge of love.

Formation of pastoral agents

The situation of people in forced migration urgently demands that priests, religious and lay people are adequately prepared for this specific apostolate, which requires that, from the outset, the «spiritual, theological, juridical and pastoral formation in the seminaries and various novitiates for future priests … be geared towards the problems raised by the pastoral care of people on the move.»[79] In any case «rather than proposing the institution of a special course or an ancillary subject, it would be better to recommend co-ordination and a greater sensitivity when explaining the various theological subj
ects more directly relevant to the phenomenon of people on the move,»[80] because this is no ordinary ministry common to the general body of believers, but a specific ministry, suited to the situation of uprootedness.[81]

This ministry therefore requires an adequate formation.[82] A special appeal was also made to consecrated persons to devote themselves for ministry among people on the move outside their home countries or at home.[83]

Involvement of the laity

The commitment of lay people in the various socio-cultural situations of the time[84] are an integral part of the Church’s mission in the world. It means that Christians need to be aware that s/he has to express her/his faith daily also in firm commitments[85], walking with and towards Jesus Christ, present in the refugees. On the one hand, for those dedicated to this service, this requires adequate formation and instruction in order to be engaged in a social analysis and apply the Gospel values in an ever changing context.

This commitment will therefore be inspired by the Gospel and the Church’s social Doctrine. On the other hand, all Christians should be touched by the destiny of their neighbours, especially those in need, and accordingly show acts of charity towards them. These two approaches will reinforce one another, leading to more decisive choices and attitudes of Christian welcome and charitable solidarity. This will be an ongoing process of conversion consisting of becoming closer to the other, our neighbour, whilst at the same time leading to a deepening relation with God.[86]

Such an attitude will not limit itself to generalities but provide adequate answers also to the needs of refugees, internally displaced and trafficked persons; existing behaviour of discrimination and racism will be addressed,[87] policies will then safeguard, strengthen and protect their rights.[88] In doing this, new relations between Church and society will come into being, while contacts with non-Christians[89] will grow and be strengthened, and collaboration between the receiving Church and the one of origin will develop.

Growing relations with those who have come to us will help in recognizing their talents, skills and knowledge, which can contribute to and also enrich the local community. Jesus Christ and the Good News are revealed by promoting hope and encouragement while addressing the overall situation in which the Church finds herself, by exercising its pastoral engagement, proclaiming the Word of God, celebrating the Sacraments and exercising the ministry of service in charity (diakonia). These components of pastoral care should be further illustrated here, but the time allotted to my talk is running short.

Ecumenical and interreligious cooperation

Appeals in favour of refugees, IDPs and victims of human trafficking must be clearly rendered, and in order to facilitate this the Catholic Church counts also on cooperation with the different Churches and ecclesial Communities, and with other religions, as attested to by the following citations respectively from our Document «Refugees» and from Pope John Paul II’s speech to the participants in the III World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees. In fact, «cooperation among the various Christian Churches and the various non-Christian religions in this charitable work will lead to new advances in the search for and the implementation of a deeper unity of the human family.»[90]

To the said participants, John Paul II explained that

The (Catholic) Church is happy to establish relations of respect, esteem and collaboration with people of any religion or race. She guarantees everyone her service for the full recognition of human rights and the defence of justice. Inter-religious dialogue, which today is so open and widespread, provided that it safeguards the necessary demands of the truth, represents a privileged way for believers of different religions to meet, in order to foster the unity of the human family and promote peace in the world.[91]

The Pope reiterated this later, to the ICMC Council Members:

The soul of your work is a vision of human dignity which is based upon the truth of the human person created in the image of God (Cf. Gen 1:26), a truth which illumines the entire Social Teaching of the Church. From this vision there flows a sense of inalienable rights which do not depend on any human power to concede or deny, for they are rights which have their source in God. This is a profoundly religious vision which is shared not only by other Christians, but also by many followers of the other great religions of the world. […] I urge you, therefore, […] never to grow weary in the search for new modes of ecumenical and interreligious cooperation, which are needed now more than ever.[92]

Christians must therefore give witness together of their deep commitment to the values of the Kingdom of God by answering to the needs of the world.[93] This will be realized in a common action and cooperation, which could lead to a renewal of the service of each one in response to the challenge of suffering and oppression.

In this unity in mission, which is decided principally by Christ himself, all Christians must find what already unites them, even before their full communion is achieved. This is apostolic and missionary unity, missionary and apostolic unity. Thanks to this unity we can together come close to the magnificent heritage of the human spirit that has been manifested in all religions.[94]

Of course, we do together only what is not against our faith and conscience, but surely, Christian communities have to orient themselves towards Him, to remain authentic and credible.

If we have truly started out anew from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see him especially in the faces of those with whom he himself wished to be identified: I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me (Mt 25:35-37). This Gospel text is not a simple invitation to charity: it is a page of Christology which sheds a ray of light on the mystery of Christ. By these words, no less than by the orthodoxy of her doctrine, the Church measures her fidelity as the Bride of Christ.[95]

The service of sharing with the poor has therefore to become central in the mission of the Church and ours because

Now is the time for a new «creativity» in charity, not only by ensuring that help is effective but also by «getting close» to those who suffer, so that the hand that helps is seen not as a humiliating handout but as a sharing between brothers and sisters. We must therefore ensure that in every Christian community the poor feel at home.[96]

Besides, the poor are the real treasure of the Church,[97] and cooperation in their favour will be the foundation of new links and bonds between Christians and people of good will. In doing so we will realise that «the Church is a sign of hope for a world that ardently desires justice, freedom, truth and solidarity, that is peace and harmony»[98]. Let us go and do better what the Church has instructed us to do also in Asia. Let us walk with and towards Jesus Christ, present in the refugees.

Thank you!

— — —

[1] Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, art. 160, LEV, Vatican City 2004; cf. Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Erga migrantes caritas Christi (henceforth, EMCC), nos. 9, 11, 29-30: AAS XCVI/II (2004) 762-822 and People on the Move, Vol. XXXVI, no. 95 (August 2004) 119,120,129; Pontifical Council «Cor Unum» and Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Refugees: A Challenge to Solidarity (henceforth, Refugees): Enchiridion Vaticanum (henceforth, EV) < /i>13 (1991-1993) 1019-1037; Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace, Self-Reliance: compter sur soi: EV 6 (1977-1979) 510-563; Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, The Church and the Racism, Vatican City 2001. Last but not least, cf. Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Peace 2007, The Human Person, the Heart of Peace, nos. 4, 6, 13: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/ migrants/s_ index_migrants/rc_pc_migrants_sectionmigrants. htm.

[2] Benedict XVI, Angelus, 19 June 2005: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/angelus/2005/documents/ hf_ben-xvi_ang_20050619_en.html.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Benedict XVI, Angelus, 18 June 2006: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/angelus/2006/documents/ hf_ben-xvi_ang_20060618_en.html.

[6] Benedict XVI, Appeal at the General Audience, 20 June 2007: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/ audiences/ 2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20070620_en.html.

[7]Cf.http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/migrants/s_index_migrants/rc_pc_migrants_sectionmigrants. htm.

[8] John XXIII, Encyclical Pacem in Terris, no. 105: AAS LV (1963) 286.

[9] John Paul II, Speech at the Refugee Camp in Morong, Philippines, 21 February 1981, no. 3. http://www.vatican.va/ holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/1981/february/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_19810221_filippine-morong-profughi_ it. html.

[10] John Paul II, Speech to the participants in the Third World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees (Vatican City, 5 October 1991) (henceforth, Third World Congress), no. 4 : Proceedings of the Third World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, Vatican City 1991, p. 9.

[11] Published in http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/migration/documents/hf_ben-vi_mes_ 20061018_world-migrants-day_en.html.

[12] l.c.

[13] John Paul II to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 28 June 1982: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/ john_paul_ii/speeches/1982/june/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_19820625_alto-commissario-rifugiati_it.html.

[14] Geneva, 9 December 2001: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/documents/rc_seg-st_doc_ 20011209_marchetto-ginevra_en.html.

[15] Cf. EMCC nos. 21 and 87 §2, l.c. 773, 804.

[16] Cf. Mt. 25,34; Cf. EMCC nos. 12,15, l.c. 768, 770.

[17] John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day 1992, no. 6: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/ messages/migration/documents/hf_jp-ii_mes_19920731_world-migration-day-1992_it.html; cf. EMCC no. 16, l.c. 771.

[18] Cf. Pontifical Council (then Commission) for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Circular Letter to the Episcopal Conferences Chiesa e Mobilità Umana [Church and human mobility] (henceforth: CMU), no. 8: AAS LXX (1978) 362; EMCC nos. 1, 12, l.c. 762, 768.

[19] John Paul II, Address to the New Ambassador of the Republic of Ghana to the Holy See, 13 December 2002: http:// www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/2002/december/documents/hf_jpii_spe_20021213_ambassador-ghana_en.html.

[20] Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens, no. 48: Insegnamenti IX (1971) 1199; Cf. World Synod of Catholic Bishops, Justice in the World, no. 40: AAS LXIII (1971) 933: «While the Church is bound to give witness to justice, she recognizes that anyone who ventures to speak to people about justice must first be just in their eyes. Hence we must undertake an examination of the modes of acting and of the possessions and life style found within the Church herself.»

[21] cf. EMCC, nos. 12-18, l.c. 768-771.

[22] Cf. EMCC, Note 11, l.c. 771, referring to Clement of Rome, Letter to the Corinthians, X-XII: PG 1, 228-233; Didaché, XI, 1; XII, 1-5, ed. F.X.Funk, 1901, pp. 24, 30; Apostolic Constitutions, VII, 29, 2, ed. F.X.Funk, 1905, p. 418; Justin, Apologia I, 67: PG 6, 429; Tertullian, Apologeticum, 39: PL 1, 471; Id., De praescriptione haereticorum, 20: PL 2, 32; Augustin, Sermon 103, 1-2. 6: PL 38, 613-615.

[23] Cf. EMCC nos. 20-33, l.c. 772 – 779.

[24] AAS XLIV (1952) 649-704.

[25] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes (henceforth, GS), nos. 4, 27, 84: AAS LVIII (1966) 1025, 1047, 1107; Benedict XVI, Message for the 92nd World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2006, Migrations: a sign of the times: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/ benedict_xvi/messages/migration/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20051018_world-migrants-day_en.html; cf. also Agostino Marchetto, Le Migrazioni, Segno dei Tempi: Quaderni Universitari «La Sollecitudine della Chiesa verso i Migranti» (Vatican City 2005), pp. 28-40.

[26] Pius XII, Redemptoris Nostri: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_ 15041949_ redemptoris-nostri-cruciatus_en.html.

[27] John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, Part I, l.c. 259-269.

[28] John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia Pastor Bonus, Art. 149-150: AAS LXXX (1988) 899-900.

[29] Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, no. 27: AAS XCVIII (2006) 232.

[30] Cf. John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, no. 220: AAS LVIII (1961) 453; GS no. 66, l.c. 1087-1088.

[31] John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, no. 219, l.c. 453; cf. EMCC nos. 40 – 43, l.c. 783 – 785.

[32] Id., Pacem in Terris, no. 11, l.c. 259-260.

[33] EMCC no. 21, l.c. 773: «Later on the Second Vatican Council worked out important directives for this particular pastoral work. It called on Christians in particular to be aware of the phenomenon of migration (cf. GS 65 and 66) and to realise the influence that emigration has on life. The Council reaffirmed the right to emigrate (cf. GS 65) the dignity of migrants (cf. GS 66), the need to overcome inequalities in economic and social development (cf. GS 63) and to provide an answer to the authentic needs of the human person (cf. GS 84). On the other hand the Council recognised the right of the public authorities, in a particular context, to regulate the flow of migration (cf. GS 87)"; cf. EMCC note 17, l.c. 773.

[34] EMCC no. 29, l.c. 777.

[35] Ibid. 101, l.c. 811.

[36] John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, no. 10: AAS LXXXIII/II (1991) 805.

[37] Id., Sollicitudo rei socialis, no. 40: AAS LXIII/I (1988) 568.

[38] Benedict XVI, General Audience, 20 June 2007: L’Osservatore Romano (henceforth, O.R.) (21 June 2007)1.

[39] Id., Address to the Members of the Assembly of Organizations for Aid to the Eastern Churches (ROACO), 23 June 2005: O.R.., Weekly Edition in English (29 June 2005) 2.

[40] Cf. Refugees, no. 20, l.c. 1030: «The spirit of solidarity clearly reveals the unacceptable fact that millions of refugees live in inhuman conditions.»

[41] John Paul II, Speech at the Ceremony Awarding the International John XXIII Peace Prize, Rome, 3 June 1986: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/1986/june/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_19860603_premio-pace_it. html.

[42] Id., Address to the Participants in the Assembly of the Council of the ICMC, Vatican City, 12 November 2001 (henceforth, ICMC Assembly), nos. 2-3: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/2001/November / documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_20011112_icmc_en.html.

[43] Id., Third World Congress, no. 3: l.c. 8-9.

[44] EMCC, no. 42, l.c. 784. Cf. its whole Section on «Welcome and Solidarity», nos. 39-43, l.c. 783 – 785.

[45] Agostino Marchetto, La globalización y la promoción humana: Nuntium (July-November 2005) 410.

[46] Refugees, no. 21, l.c. 1031.

[47] Cf. EMCC no. 16, l.c. 771: «This means that for Christians it is not all that important where they live geographically, while a sense for hospitality is natural to them». The Instruction «emphasizes a vast range of values and behaviour (hospitality, solidarity, sharing) and the need to reject all sentiments and manifestations of xenophobia and racism on the part of host communities»; Cf. also EMCC no. 30, l.c. 777-778.

[48] Benedict XVI, Message for the 94th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 2008: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/ benedict_xvi/messages/migration/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20071018_world-migrants-day_en.html.

[49] John Paul II, Angelus, 20 June 2004, no. 2: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/ angelus/2004/ documents/ hf_jp-ii_ang_20040620_en.html.

[50] Cf. Benedict XVI, General Audience, 20 June 2007: O.R.. (21 June 2007) 1.

[51] John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, no. 119: AAS LXXXVIII/I (1996) 70.

[52] Id., Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europa, no. 100: AAS XCV (2003) 655, cf. EMCC no. 8: l.c. 766.

[53] Id., Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America, no. 52: AAS XCI (1999) 789.

[54] cf. Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, no. 25: l.c. 232: «The Church’s deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the Word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being.»

[55] Cf. John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day 1999: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/ messages/migration/documents/hf_jp-ii_mes_22021999_world-migration-day-1999_en.html: «The importance of the parish in welcoming the stranger, in integrating baptized persons from different cultures and in dialoguing with believers of other religions stems from the mission of every parish community and its significance within society. This is not an optional, supplementary role for the parish community, but a duty inherent in its task as an institution». Cf. EMCC no. 89, l.c. 805: «In this context each host Church is called upon to integrate the concrete reality of the persons and groups that compose it, bringing the values of each one into communion, as all are called upon to build a Church that is concretely Catholic. ‘In this way there is brought about a unity in plurality in the local Church, a unity that is not uniformity but harmony, in which every legitimate diversity plays its part in the common and unifying effort’ (CMU no. 19)»; EMCC no. 24, l.c 774-775.

[56] Cf. John Paul II, Homily at the Jubilee of Migrants and Itinerant People, 2 June 2000, no. 2: http://www.vatican.va/ holy_father/john_paul_ii/homilies/2000/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_20000602_jubilmigrants_ en. html.

[57] Id., Message for World Migration Day 1999, no. 6, l.c.; cf. Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2003, For a commitment to overcome all racism, xenophobia and exaggerated nationalism, no. 3: http://www.vatican.va/ holy_father/john_paul_ii/messages/migration/documents/hf_jp-ii_mes_20021202_world-migration-day-2003_en.html; Id., Message for the World Migration Day 2002, Migration and Inter-Religious Dialogue, no. 4: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/messages/migration/documents/hf_jp-ii_mes_20011018_world-migration-day-2002_en.html.

[58] EMCC nos. 24, 26, 54, 55, and 91, l.c. 774-775, 776,789, 806-807.

[59] John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Oceania, no. 26: AAS XCIV (2002) 398.

[60] Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Pastoral Care of Refugees in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa: A Consultative Meeting, Lusaka (Zambia), 5-9 January, 1993, p. 134.

[61] Id., The Three Consultations of 1998 for a more coordinated Pastoral response of the Church in Africa to the present refugee crisis. The Official Texts with commentary, Vatican City 1999, p. 28.

[62] Paul VI, Message to the European Conference on the Pastoral Care of Migrants: AAS LXV (1973) 590.

[63] EMCC no. 39, l.c. 783.

[64] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church Christus Dominus, no. 18: AAS LXXX (1966) 682; cf. EMCC no. 70, l.c. 796-797.

[65] Cf. EMCC no. 70, l.c. 796-797.

[66] Cf. CMU, no. 19, l.c. 367-368; cf. EMCC, Juridical Pastoral Regulations, art. 16, l.c. 818.

[67]John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America, no. 65, l.c. 800.

[68] Id., Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, no. 34: AAS XCII (2000) 507.

[69] Id., Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, no. 77: AAS LXXIV (1982) 176.

[70] Id., Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, no. 119, l.c. 71.

[71] Id., Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europa, no. 103, l.c.

[72] Id., Address to the Bishops of Brazil’s Southern Region II on their «ad limina» Visit, 31 August 2002: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/2002/august/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_20020831_ad-limina-brazil_ en.html; cf. EMCC nos. 39 and 100, l.c. 783, 810-811.

[73] Cf. EMCC nos. 75 – 78 and 90 – 95, l.c. 798 – 800, 806 – 808, which can be applied, mutatis mutandis, to the pastoral care of refugees and IDPs.

[74] Agostino Marchetto, Migration and the New Slaveries, CCEE-SECAM Seminar, November 2007: People on the Move Vol. XXXIX, no. 105 (December 2007), 138.

[75] Cf. EMCC nos. 70 ,77, l.c. 796-797, 799.

[76] Cf. EMCC no. 33, l.c. 779: «Among the principal Catholic organisations for assistance of migrants and refugees, we cannot fail to mention the International Catholic Migration Commission established in 1951. It has great merit for the help it provided in its first fifty years to governments and international organisations, in a Christian spirit, and for its own original contribution in the search for lasting solutions for migrants and refugees all over the world. The service rendered by the Commission in the past and still done today ‘is bound by a two-fold fidelity: to Christ … and to the Church’, as stated by Pope John Paul II, and its work ‘has been a fruitful point of ecumenical and interreligious cooperation’. Nor, finally, must we forget the important commitment of the various Caritas organisations and other similar organisms of charity and solidarity in the service of migrants and refugees»; cf. also EMCC no. 86, l.c. 804.

[77] Cf. Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, no. 31, l.c. 232: «Those who work for the Church’s charitable organizations must be distinguished by the fact that they do not merely meet the needs of the moment, but they dedicate themselves to others with heartfelt concern, enabling them to experience the richness of their humanity. Consequently, in addition to their necessary professional training, these charity workers need a formation of the heart: they need to be led to that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others.»

[78] Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, no. 26 – AAS LXXXI (1989) 439-440 – : «Many parishes, whether established in regions affected by urban progress or in missionary territory, cannot do their work effectively because they lack material resources or ordained men or are too big geographically or because of the particular circumstances of some Christians (e.g. exiles and migrants).»

[79] CMU no. 33, l.c. 375; cf. EMCC no. 71, l.c. 797.

[80] Congregation for Catholic Education, Circular letter, Pastoral care of people on the move in the formation of future priests, addressed to Diocesan Ordinaries and the Rectors of their Seminaries, on the inclusion of pastoral care for human mobility in the training of future priests, Rome, January 1986, no. 3. Cf. also EMCC no. 71, l.c. 797; Congregation for Catholic Education – Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Joint Letter on the pastoral care of migrants in the formation of future priests and permanent deacons, 13 October 2005: People on the Move Vol. XXXVII, no. 99 (December 2005), 195.

[81] John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day 1990, no. 10: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/ messages/migration/documents/hf_jp-ii_mes_19900725_world-migration-day-1990_it.html; cf. EMCC no. 77, l.c. 799.

[82] Cf. Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples – Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Joint Letter to Diocesan Ordinaries on the Pastoral Care of Human Mobility, 13 October 2005: People on the Move, Vol. XXXVII, no. 99 (December 2005), 107.

[83] Cf. Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life – Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Joint Letter to the Superiors General of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Pastoral commitment to migrants, refugees and other persons involved in the crisis of human mobility, 13 May 2005: People on the Move, Vol. XXXVII, no. 99 (December 2005).

[84] Cf. John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day 1987, no. 1 – http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/ john_paul_ii /messages/migration/documents/hf_jp-ii_mes_19870805_world-migration-day-1987_it.html – : «The participation of the laity in the mission of the Church in the various socio-cultural situations of the time has represented one of the most fruitful ways in meeting the proposal of integral salvation which Christ brought.»; EMCC nos. 86 – 88, l.c. 804-805; ibid. Juridical Pastoral Regulations, Chapter I, l.c. 813.

[85] Cf. Benedict XVI, Address at the Presentation of the Letters accrediting New Ambassadors to the Holy See, 16 June 2005 –http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2005/june/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20050616_ ambassadors_en.html – : «The Church will never tire of reminding everyone that they must take pains to create a human brotherhood that consists of concrete gestures on the part of individuals and of Governments and international Institutions.»

[86] Cf. John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day 1999, no. 4, l.c.: «Charity, in its twofold reality as love of God and neighbour, is the summing up of the moral life of the believer. It has in God its source and its goal.»

[87] Cf. Benedict XVI, Angelus, 24 December 2006 – http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/angelus/2006/ documents/hf_ben-xvi_ang_20061224_en.html – : «The corresponding duty is to increasingly overcome preconceptions and prejudices, to break down barriers and eliminate the differences that divide us, or worse, that set individuals and peoples against one another, in order to build together a world of justice and peace.»

[88] John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day 1999, no. 6, l.c.: «Catholicity is not only expressed in the fraternal communion of the baptized, but also in the hospitality extended to the stranger, whatever his religious belief, in the rejection of all racial exclusion or discrimination, in the recognition of the personal dignity of every man and woman and, consequently, in the commitment to furthering their inalienable rights.»

[89] Cf. EMCC no. 59, l.c. 792: «In the case of non-Christian immigrants, the Church is also concerned with their human development and with the witness of Christian charity, which itself has an evangelising value that may open hearts for the explicit proclamation of the gospel when this is done with due Christian prudence and full respect for the freedom of the other. In any case the migrant of another religion should be helped insofar as possible to preserve a transcendent view of life. The Church is thus called upon to open a dialogue with these immigrants, and this ‘dialogue should be conducted and implemented in the conviction that the Church is the ordinary means of salvation and that she alone possesses the fullness of the means of salvation’ (
55; cf. also PaG 68)»; EMCC nos. 59 – 68, l.c. 791 – 795.

[90] Refugees, no. 34, l.c. 1037.

[91] John Paul II, Third World Congress, no. 4, l.c. 9-10. Cf. also EMCC and its commentaries in «La Sollecitudine della Chiesa verso i Migranti», Quaderni Universitari, I Parte, Vatican City 2005; «Migranti e Pastorale d’Accoglienza», Quaderni Universitari, II Parte, Vatican City 2006, and «Operatori di una Pastorale di Comunione», Quaderni Universitari, III Parte, Vatican City 2007, all published under the responsibility of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

[92] Id., ICMC Assembly, no. 4, l.c.

[93] Cf. Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, no. 162, Vatican City, pp. 77-78: «Christians cannot close their hearts to the crying needs of our contemporary world. The contribution they are able to make to all the areas of human life in which the need for salvation is manifested will be more effective when they make it together, and when they are seen to be united in making it. Hence they will want to do everything together that is allowed by their faith». This perspective is illustrated by EMCC nos. 56 – 58, l.c. 790 – 791.

[94] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Hominis, no. 12: AAS LXXI (1979) 278.

[95] Id., Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, no. 49: AAS XCIII (2001) 302.

[96] Ibid, no. 50, l.c. 303.

[97] Cf. Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, no 23, l.c. 232: «But charitable activity on behalf of the poor and suffering was naturally an essential part of the Church of Rome from the very beginning, based on the principles of Christian life given in the Acts of the Apostles. It found a vivid expression in the case of the deacon Lawrence († 258). The dramatic description of Lawrence’s martyrdom was known to Saint Ambrose († 397) and it provides a fundamentally authentic picture of the saint. As the one responsible for the care of the poor in Rome, Lawrence had been given a period of time, after the capture of the Pope and of Lawrence’s fellow deacons, to collect the treasures of the Church and hand them over to the civil authorities. He distributed to the poor whatever funds were available and then presented to the authorities the poor themselves as the real treasure of the Church.»

[98] EMCC no. 102, l.c. 811.

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