Archbishop Marchetto on Pastoral Care of Migrants

«I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me»

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LIVERPOOL, England, NOV. 24, 2008 ( Here is the address Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, delivered at a conference sponsored by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences and the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.

The Wednesday through Sunday conference focused on «The Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Foreign Students.»

* * *

I wish to thank you for this invitation and for having chosen to consider the pastoral approach in this meeting, as I warmly encouraged in the past.

You will understand that the theme assigned to me is quite vast, and therefore I had to make some choices. However, you will have my long text before you. Naturally, I will not read everything I have written. The talk first of all deals with migrant workers, economic migrants I would say, — and I think that it is right to start with them — and it is a presentation of the general vision of our Instruction «Erga migrantes caritas Christi.» The topics contained in the Document could be your inspiration for our discussions later on. It is applicable to all categories of migrants, «mutatis mutandis» The Instruction was published in 2004 and is still awaiting sufficient reception, although admirable exceptions have come from some Countries. Then there will be an exposition on the pastoral care of refugees, asylum seekers, IDPs, stateless persons, victims of trafficking of human beings and forced labor, including child soldiers (the new slaveries). We are presently preparing a Document concerning this, since the last one was published in 1992 and there is a need for major updating, much of what inspires my intervention here. Finally, I will talk about foreign (international) students who already number two million and a half totally. There is already some commitment in this field of specific pastoral care and a sufficiently valid reflection is already going on.


By way of introduction, allow me to recall that the phenomenon of contemporary migrations constitutes the greatest movement of people at any time in history. In recent decades this phenomenon, which currently involves more than two hundred million people, has become an event that affects the structure of our society and comprises complex, social, cultural, political, economic, religious and pastoral realities.

The Instruction «Erga migrantes caritas Christi» aimed to update the Church’s vision of the pastoral care of migrants in this contemporary milieu, thirty-five years after the publication of the Motu Proprio, by Pope Paul VI, «Pastoralis migratorum cura.»

The Instruction also aimed to provide an ecclesial response to the new pastoral needs of migrants, in order to turn the migratory experience into an opportunity for dialogue and mission for the purpose of the new evangelisation. Moreover, it was designed to facilitate the precise application of the legislation contained in the CIC and the CCEO in order to respond better to the particular requirements of the increasing numbers of believers who have emigrated from Eastern Catholic Churches.

The composition of current migrations, as well as the development of ecumenism itself, also calls for an ecumenical vision of this phenomenon, due to the presence in traditionally Catholic areas of many Christian migrants who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church. Inter-religious dialogue also comes into play, due to the growing numbers of immigrants who belong to other religions, especially Muslims.

This places a pastoral obligation on all Catholics, namely the duty to promote an action that is faithful to ecclesial tradition and at the same time open to new developments regarding pastoral structures. This means making these structures suitable for guaranteeing communion between specific pastoral agents and local hierarchies, who play a vital role in the pastoral care of migrants, and who have the prime responsibility for them.

After a brief review of the special features of contemporary migration (globalisation; demographic changes underway, especially in developing countries; the widening inequality gap between North and South; the proliferation of conflicts and civil wars), the Instruction underlines the severe hardships that migration causes among families and individuals, especially women and children. This phenomenon also raises the ethical issue of the search for a new international economic order in which the world’s goods are more equally distributed, with a vision of the global community as a family of peoples, and the application of international Law.

The Instruction then sets out a precise biblical and theological framework of reference for migration, by contemplating migration in the history of salvation, which is a sign of the times and the presence of God in the history of mankind, with a view to universal communion.

The Instruction offers also an historical overview of the Church’s care for migrants and refugees as expressed in ecclesial documents, such as «Exsul Familia» and the Instruction «De Pastorali migratorum cura,» as well as subsequent canonical legislation. These texts reveal important theological and pastoral principles, such as the central importance of the human person; the defence of migrants’ rights; the ecclesial and missionary dimension of migration; the pastoral contribution of lay people, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; the value of cultures in the work of evangelisation; the safeguarding and promotion of minorities, including within local Churches; the importance of intra and extra ecclesial dialogue; as well as the specific contribution that migration could make to universal peace.

Other points — such as the need for «inculturation» of the Christian message; the vision of the Church as communion, the continual importance of specific pastoral care for migrants; and the dialogical and missionary commitment of all members of the mystical Body of Christ and the consequent duty to foster a culture of welcome and solidarity toward migrants — introduce an analysis of specific pastoral requirements to be met, regarding both Catholic migrants (from Latin and Eastern rites) and those who belong to various Churches and ecclesial communities, as well as other religions in general, and Islam in particular.

The pastoral and legal aspects of pastoral ministry is then further explained and reaffirmed — specifically with regard to chaplains and missionaries and their national delegates (coordinators), diocesan and eparchial presbyters, religious and lay persons from lay associations and movements — whose apostolic commitment is seen and considered within a vision of a pastoral care of communion.

The integration of specific pastoral structures (whether already in place or to be established in the future) and of migrants within ordinary pastoral care — with full respect of their legitimate diversity and their spiritual and cultural heritage, also with a view to forming an increasingly «catholic» Church — is another important characteristic that the Document aims to emphasize and propose to the local Churches. This integration is an essential condition in order that pastoral care, for and with migrants, may become a meaningful expression of the Universal Church and the «missio ad Gentes» (mission to peoples), a fraternal and peaceful dialogue, a house for everyone, a shared and welcomed school of communion, reconciliation that is called for and given, mutual and fraternal welcome and solidarity, as well as authentic Christian and human development.

Updated and precise legal and pastoral Regulations round off the Instruction, setting out in appropriate language the duties, tasks and roles of pastoral agents and the various ecclesial organisations involved in the pastoral care of migrants, with a view to bringing them as closely into line as possible with the n
eeds of migrants and the expected outlook for the future.

Ideally, the Document is to be considered in the light of «Exsul Familia,» and underlines the continuity of its inspiration, but at the same time points to the new questions that arise from today’s migration. Therefore, the Church is constantly reflecting on how best to approach current realities, and how to respond appropriately with sound pastoral planning. Tradition and innovation thus go hand in hand also here.


Refugees are always in the heart of the Church. Limiting 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.»[1] Since then, the Catholic Church has not ceased to appeal to the international Community and to call for solidarity and collaboration from each Christian and person of goodwill in their favour.

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.»[2]

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.»[3]

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.

Coming now to our Pontifical Council, and going back to 1992, we published a Document entitled «Refugees, a Challenge to Solidarity.»[4] 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 creation 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.

In such context let us, now turn to what is specific to our Pontifical Council and to yourself also.


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[5], 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).[6]

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,»[7] and is therefore called to proclaim peace also in situations of forced migration.

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 the Holy Scriptures.[8] [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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and successive interventions of the Magisterium faced this phenomenon, seen as a new sign of the times,[12] by providing for specific pastoral approaches.

Thus Pope Pius XII expressed his concern about Palestinian refugees in the Encyclical letter «Redemptoris Nostri,»[13] in 1949, while Pope John XXIII drew attention to the suffering and the rights of refugees in the Encyclical letter «Pacem in Terris»[14] 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.»[15]

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 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.»[16]


The dignity of the individual person [17] 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.»[18] 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.[19]

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.[20] 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.»[21]


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).»[22] Thus we walk with and towards Jesus Christ, present in the refugees.


The Catholic Church is aware of the gravity of the refugee situation and the inhuman conditions they suffer.[23] 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 Holy See has continuously called for international support for such efforts.

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.»[24]

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.»[25]

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.»[26]

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.»[27]

III. New pastoral itineraries at the dawn of the Third Millennium (particular aspects of the specific pastoral care for forced migrants)


Still at the dawn of the Third Millennium, welcome is a fundamental characteristic of pastoral ministry among refugees and IDPs.[28] 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.


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.[29]

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.»[30]

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.[31]

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.»[32] 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,»[33] 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.»[34]


The local Church must be involved[35] 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.[36] 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.[37] The parish can thus live out, in a new way, its ancient vocation as «a house where a guest feels at ease».[38] If necessary, personal parishes or missions «cum cura animarum» can be created to better cope with the pastoral necessities.[39]

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.»[4

Final responsibility, for this, also spiritual and formative, as part of an «authentic culture of welcome,»[41] must lie on the Bishops[42] in order to assure pastoral care for these people. Collaboration in this, between the Church of origin and the one of arrival, is indispensable[43] 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, move 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.[44]

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.[45]

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.»[46]

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,[47] 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.


In the field of cooperation, we have to remember the international Catholic charitable organisations[48] 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,[49] 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.


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.»[50] 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 subjects more directly relevant to the phenomenon of people on the move,»[51] because, «This is no ordinary ministry common to the general body of believers, but a specific ministry, suited to the situation of uprootedness.»[52]<br>
This ministry therefore requires an adequate formation.[53] 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.[54]


The commitment of lay people in the various socio-cultural situations of the time[55] 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,[56] 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.[57]

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,[58] policies will then safeguard, strengthen and protect their rights.[59] In doing this, new relations between Church and society will come into being, while contacts with non-Christians[60] 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.


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.»[61]

The service of sharing with the poor has in fact 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.[62]

Besides, the poor are the real treasure of the Church,[63] 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.»[64]


In this regard, I would like to begin by saying that today they have reached a considerable number, about 2.4 million in 2006, and that they are the object-subject of a specific pastoral care on the part of the Church. This reality — of foreign students — is moreover also a provocation and a challenge to love and solidarity. Those who travel most are the Foreign Students of Asia (1,079 million), but also those of Europe are going abroad (683,462) as well as the International Students of Africa (284,260). May I add that China is the major source of these students (564,776), while the USA is the main destination country. In Europe, Great Britain receives 330,078 Foreign Students, whereas France hosts 265,039 and Germany 248,357.

It is therefore the Church’s mission to accompany with care and to watch over the young people who are students living in a particular situation, i.e., abroad, and also afterwards, on their return, in the process of their reintegration in the Church and society of origin.

Collaboration in this pastoral field — both between the Bishops’ Conferences of the countries of origin and of arrival, and between the individual national structures — is an indisputable sign of concern and of taking on their responsibility for development

Let me call to mind some dates and events in this regard.

Speaking to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, on 27 September 1971, Paul VI drew the guidelines for the pastoral care of Foreign Students affirming, among others, that «the Church must be with them in their difficulties, be in solidarity with them, encourage them in their efforts, support their hopes, help them raise their gaze towards Him who is the Father of all men and women and of all Nations, who is the Truth to which all cultures must refer.»[65]

Considering these words of Paul VI and reading the phenomenon of student mobility in the light of faith, it is important to remember the Instruction issued by the cited «ERGA MIGRANTES CARITAS CHRISTI»(The love of Christ towards migrants), which insists that «particular attention would need to be paid to foreign students» (no. 87; see also no. 51), for whom we are called by God to help them in their needs and give an adequate pastoral response to the particular situation in which they live. In fact, with the Apostolic Constitution «Pastor Bonus» (26/06/1988), what used to be a Pontifical Commission was transformed into the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (articles 149-151), in which a Sector for the Pastoral Care of Foreign Students was established.

The need for a specific pastoral care for Foreign Students stems from the fact that they are not just students, but also temporary migrants, that the concrete problems and frequent difficulties they meet are due to the fact that they are far from their own families, in a place that has different customs and rhythms of life, sometimes another language, and where Foreign Students need to adapt to the new environment. They also feel the pressure caused by their studies, fear and often anguish in case they might fail, which, if this happens repeatedly, would bring them back to their native land. They feel solitude, frustration, insecurity, lack of friends. They find themselves in economic difficulty, uncertain about obtaining a residence permit, and even experience spiritual trauma. For this reason, the Church must welcome and serve them, in Jesus Christ, and alleviate the weight of suffering and humiliation, which they generally feel. Certainly there are also wealthy students whilst not always needing financial assistance share in many of these difficulties.

Aiming to encourage those who are involved in this specific pastoral care, and also all university chaplains so that their attention for Foreign Students may increase, our Pontifical Council convoked two World Congresses.

World Congresses

The First took place in 1996, in Rome, on a theme that I would say was obvious, that is: The Role of Foreign Students in the Church and in the World. There were about 50 participants from 16 Countries, the majority of whom were in charge of national structures for the pastoral care of foreign students.

The Second Congress, which was held in 2005, also in Rome, discussed instead the following theme: «Foreign Students and the Instruction ‘Erga migrantes caritas Christi.'» It was an attempt to encourage the specific characteristics of concern for migrant university students, in terms of special care and commitment, with the relative pastoral agents, and at the same time to develop existing pastoral care by means of a specific solicitude for foreign students. It also aimed to enrich the migration dimension of the pastoral care of Foreign Students by reflecting on the aforementioned document about migrants, refugees, exiles, stateless persons, those who are subject to trafficking in human beings and of course Foreign Students.

This second time, there were 62 participants, representing 19 Countries, among them two Fraternal Delegates. There were also delegates from religious congregations, and members of lay associations and ecclesial movements.

During the sessions of both the First and the Second Meetings, a lively discussion was made regarding the existential and spiritual difficulties that Students meet during their stay abroad and on the different responses put in place by the local Churches. The exchange of rich pastoral experiences was undoubtedly one of the positive fruits of the Congress, which came up with valid suggestions and encouraged anew the Churches’ commitment in this regard. Above all, it was clear that foreign students are a gift of God for the ecclesial communities. Their presence «is a positive factor of human and cultural enrichment.»[66] On his part, His Holiness Benedict XVI affirmed, in 2005, that the presence of Foreign Students «is a growing phenomenon and an important field of pastoral action for the Church. Indeed, young people who leave their own country in order to study encounter many problems and especially the risk of an identity crisis and a loss of spiritual and moral values. Moreover, for many young people the possibility of studying abroad is a unique opportunity to become better able to contribute to the development of their own countries and participate actively in the Church’s mission. It is important to continue on the journey undertaken to me
et the needs of these brothers and sisters of ours.»

In the Second Congress, the participants translated their experiences into reflections and proposals, with special attention for two important points: on one hand, welcome and spiritual assistance, and on the other hand, setting up programmes for collaboration between local Churches.

Here are some conclusions of this Congress, which I consider particularly applicable for you:

— Jesus Christ is our icon of the «man on the move» (Lk 9:58; Instruction «Erga migrantes caritas Christi,» 15);

— As «Christ welcomes us» (Rm 15,7), so do we welcome the stranger in our pastoral care towards Foreign Students;

— the phenomenon of student migration is complex;

— these kind of students are «special» migrants.

Also to respond to the concrete needs of Foreign Students, it was recommended that university chaplains and pastoral agents should seek time when Foreign students can «speak about faith with pride» and humility.

It is also necessary to:

— recognize that every encounter is at heart a reciprocal friendship; chaplaincy is a path to developing a healthy community of friends in Christ and/or humanity;

— remain in contact with alumni so that current Foreign Students will learn how their predecessors contribute positively to their home country;

— encourage collaboration between the university chaplain and pastoral agents, the whole diocesan community and student organizations;

— develop leadership qualities of Foreign Students for them to help one another and to have their own cultural gifts valued by their host community;

— encourage Foreign Students to appreciate their vocation of service in their home country, when they return, so that they will be able to contribute to the transformation of the conditions of human and spiritual life in their countries; and

— work ecumenically, with a perspective of interdenominational education, open to interreligious dialogue, without forgetting each one’s own identity.

The Congress also encouraged the dioceses and the Bishops’ Conferences to:

— make adequate provisions for chaplains and campus ministers at all higher education institutions, taking care also of their preparation;

— provide special services for Foreign Students who are identified as «refugees» and IDPs, also by offering scholarships;

— provide, as far as possible, social assistance to Foreign Students in need, regarding their legal and social rights, and the necessary paper work;

— have a national, continental and universal vision of this specific pastoral care.

It was also affirmed that:

— there is a need, on the part of the Church of origin, to prepare the candidates for studies abroad, so that may know the real situation of the moral and religious life in the country of arrival, with a specific warning about religious indifferentism and the aggression on the part of sects;

— it is the duty of the Church of arrival to face the problem of welcoming, fighting with determination, attitudes of diffidence and hostility of which Catholics themselves are often guilty;

— there is a need to develop a pastoral ministry for Foreign Students as part of a pastoral plan of the local Church;

— it is necessary for the Church to put at the students’ disposal spaces where they can get together and recreate fraternally, in an atmosphere of ecumenical, inter-religious and intercultural dialogue;

— it is the duty of the Church to accompany with special attention Foreign Students who have particular problems.

Finally, our Pontifical Council was asked to:

— help create the conviction that a worldwide directory of university chaplaincies is important, so that from the grassroots level a form of cooperation would emerge towards a concrete realization of this project;

— clarify the relations of the chaplain with the bishop, with the National Bishops’ Conference and also with the offices of the Holy See;

— encourage university chaplains to engage in appropriate ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue and, at different intervals, to continue gathering chaplains from all over the world to share experiences and deepen their understanding of the specific pastoral care for Foreign Students.

During the last two years, His Holiness Benedict XVI also spoke of Foreign Students in His Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. On the theme «The migrant family,» the Pope referred to them as follows: «Among migrants, there is a category that needs to be considered in a special way: the students from other countries, who are far from home, without an adequate knowledge of the language, at times without friends and often with a scholarship that is insufficient for their needs. Their condition is even worse if they are married. Through its Institutions, the Church exerts every effort to render the absence of family support for these young students less painful. It helps them integrate in the cities that receive them, by putting them in contact with families that are willing to offer them hospitality and facilitate knowing one another. As I had the opportunity to say on another occasion, helping foreign students is ‘an important field of pastoral action’.»[67]

To conclude, by her prophetic proclamation, through works of spiritual support and at the same time of material assistance, the Church must help in discovering the «strategic» role that Foreign Students play, not only for the future of their own countries, but also for the good of the whole International Community. So that this will come about, She must make use of the university pastoral care that John Paul II defined, in the Apostolic Constitution «Ex Corde Ecclesiae» (No. 38), as «that activity of the University that offers the members of the community itself the occasion to coordinate academic studies and para-academic activities with religious and moral principles, thus integrating life with faith.»[68]

Thank you!

* * *

[1] John Paul II, Encyclical «Pacem in Terris,» no. 105: AAS LV (1963) 286.[2] John Paul II, Speech at the Refugee Camp in Morong, Philippines, 21 February 1981, no. 3. holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/1981/february/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_19810221_filippine-morong-profughi_ it. html.

[3] 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.

[4] Pontifical Council Cor Unum and Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, «Refugees, a Challenge to Solidarity,» Edizioni Dehonaniane Bologna, Enchiridion Vaticanum 13 (1991-1993) 1019-1037.

[5] Cf. Mt. 25,34; Cf. «Erga migrantes caritas Christi» nos. 12,15: AAS XCVI (2004) 768, 770.[6] John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day 1992, no. 6: migration/documents/hf_jp-ii_mes_19920731_world-migration-day-1992_it.html; cf. EMCC no. 16, l.c. 771.

[7] 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.

[8] Cf. EMCC, nos. 12-18, l.c. 768-771.[9] 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.

[10] Cf. EMCC nos. 20-33, l.c. 772 – 779.[11] AAS XLIV (1952) 649-704.

[12] 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: 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.

[13] Pius XII, «Redemptoris Nostri»: redemptoris-nostri-cruciatus_en.html.[14] John XXIII, «Pacem in Terris,» Part I, l.c. 259-269.

[15] John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia Pastor Bonus, art. 149-150: AAS LXXX (1988) 899-900.[16] Benedict XVI, «Deus Caritas Est,» no. 27: AAS XCVIII (2006) 232.

[17] Cf. John XXIII, «Mater et Magistra,» no. 220: AAS LVIII (1961) 453; GS no. 66, l.c. 1087-1088.[18] John XXIII, «Mater et Magistra,» no. 219, l.c. 453; cf. EMCC nos. 40 – 43, l.c. 783 – 785.

[19] Id., «Pacem in Terris,» no. 11, l.c. 259-260.[20] 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.

[21] EMCC no. 29, l.c. 777.[22] Ibid. 101, l.c. 811.

[23] Cf. Refugees, no. 20, l.c. 1030: «The spirit of solidarity clearly reveals the unacceptable fact that millions of refugees live in inhuman conditions.»[24] Id., Third World Congress, no. 3: l.c. 8-9.     [28] 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.

[29] Cf. Benedict XVI, Message for the 94th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 2008: benedict_ xvi/messages/migration/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20071018_world-migrants-day_en.html.

[30] John Paul II, Angelus, 20 June 2004, no. 2: angelus/2004/ documents/ hf_jp-ii_ang_20040620_en.html. [31] Cf. Benedict XVI, General Audience, 20 June 2007: O.R.. 21 June 2007, 1.

[32] John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation «Ecclesia in Africa,» no. 119: AAS LXXXVIII/I (1996) 70.[33] Id., Apostolic Exhortation «Ecclesia in Europa,» no. 100: AAS XCV (2003) 655, cf. EMCC no. 8: l.c. 766.

[34] Id., Apostolic Exhortation «Ecclesia in America,» no. 52: AAS XCI (1999) 789.[35] 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.»

[36] Cf. John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day 1999: 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.

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

[38] 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: johnpaulii/ 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: documents/hf_jp-ii_mes_20011018_world-migration-day-2002_en.html.

[39] EMCC nos. 24, 26, 54, 55, and 91, l.c. 774-775, 776,789, 806-807.[40] John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation «Ecclesia in Oceania,» no. 26: AAS XCIV (2002) 398.

[41] EMCC no. 39, l.c. 783.[42] 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.

[43] Cf. EMCC no. 70, l.c. 796-797.[44] Cf. CMU, no. 19, l.c. 367-368; cf. EMCC, Juridical Pastoral Regulations, art. 16, l.c. 818.

[45] 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.

[46] Agostino Marchetto, «Migration and the New Slaveries,» CCEE-SECAM Seminar, November 2007: People on the Move Vol. XXXIX, no. 105 (December 2007), 138.[47] Cf. EMCC nos. 70 ,77, l.c. 796-797, 799.

[48] 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 o
ver 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.

[49] 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.»

[50] CMU no. 33, l.c. 375; cf. EMCC no. 71, l.c. 797.[51] 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.

[52] John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day 1990, no. 10: migration/documents/hf_jp-ii_mes_19900725_world-migration-day-1990_it.html; cf. EMCC no. 77, l.c. 799.

[53] 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.

[54] 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).

[55] Cf. John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day 1987, no. 1 – 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.

[56] Cf. Benedict XVI, Address at the Presentation of the Letters accrediting New Ambassadors to the Holy See, 16 June 2005 – – : «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.»

[57] 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.»

[58] Cf. Benedict XVI, Angelus, 24 December 2006 – 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.»

[59] Cf. 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.»

[60] 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’ (RMi 55; cf. also PaG 68)»; EMCC nos. 59 – 68, l.c. 791 – 795.

[61] Refugees, no. 34, l.c. 1037.[62] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter «Novo Millennio Ineunte,» no. 50: AAS XCIII (2001) 303.

[63] 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.»

[64] EMCC no. 102, l.c. 811.[65] Paul VI, Speech to the participants in the VI Session of the General Council of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI IX (1971) 824.

[66] John Paul II, Message on the occasion of the First World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Foreign Students, no. 4: L’osservatore Romano, 22 September 1996, p. 8[67] Benedict xvi, Message for the 93rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees: L’Osservatore Romano, 15 November 2006, p. 5.

[68] Giovanni Paolo II, «Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae,» no. 38: AAS LXXXII (1990) 1496.

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