Migrants Are a Hidden Treasure, Bishops Affirm

Note Their Creativity and Culture

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LIVERPOOL, England, NOV. 28, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Not only are migrants children of God and heirs to his Kingdom, they are also a wealth of culture, intelligence and creativity, bishops from Europe and Africa are affirming.

This was one of the concluding affirmations from a conference sponsored by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences and the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar. The Nov. 19-23 event focused on «The Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Foreign Students.»

«[W]e would like to affirm that the stranger is not to be seen as a threat or a problem, but rather to be seen, through the lens of the Holy Scriptures and the teachings of the Church, as the migrant or refugee who should be welcomed first and foremost as a child of God. […] Secondly, the migrant is also saved by the blood of the savior Jesus Christ, and therefore is heir to the Kingdom of God,» the bishops stated.

But migrants’ value are not just spiritual, they continued: «We also are convinced that the migrant is indeed an occasion of grace from God and he [or] she brings with him [or] herself a new wealth of culture, spirituality, intellect and intelligence, creativity and still more of humanity.»

Based on this assumption, the European and African bishops called on episcopal conferences of their two continents «to put in place, where they are absent, appropriate institutions for the study of migrants, and especially for welcoming them and providing pastoral care for them.»

In this regard, the congress conclusions called for regional bishops’ conferences, and skilled pastoral agents to minister to migrants, «with special attention to women, children and students who are most easily exploited by unscrupulous persons and cartels, which render them victims of immoral practices, drug pushers and crime rings.»

Particular obligation

The two episcopal conferences affirmed that prelates have a special role to play in defending migrants. But they also encouraged laity to «be the salt of the earth» in this realm.

The bishops also reflected on the mutual benefits of migration gained by their two continents.

«We are indeed grateful to the Church in Africa for making available missionary priests and religious who are serving as pastors and pastoral agents in parishes and institutions in Europe, thus returning something of the gifts that Africa received from the Church and missionaries of Europe in centuries gone by,» the final message stated. «We also thank God for the rich liturgical celebrations and pastoral vitality that Europe is experiencing of late, thanks to the presence of migrants from Africa who are of the Catholic faith.

«The Church in Africa is also most grateful for the many gifts she receives through fraternal sharing and exchanges that arise from the presence of our African brothers and sisters who are migrants in Europe today and are receiving great pastoral care and concern.»

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On the Net:

Final message: http://www.zenit.org/article-24396?l=english

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