BRASILIA, Brazil, SEPT. 16, 2009 ( Immigration makes the nature of the universal Church visible, according to a Vatican aide who was reflecting on migrants and catholicity.

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, spoke about immigration and ecclesiology when he addressed the third international conference on migrant ministry, which opened today in Brazil.

The prelate affirmed that immigration, which he called a "sign of the times," can be a chance for local Churches to live and feel the ecclesiology of communion and mission spoken about in "Lumen Gentium" from the Second Vatican Council.
The pastoral care of migrants "contributes to making visible the genuine physiognomy of the Church," he contended.

"Also through them," the archbishop added, "God's plan of salvific communion can be carried out among peoples."

Archbishop Marchetto further observed that immigrants themselves have the "privileged though painful opportunity of coming to a greater sense of belonging to the universal Church, beyond any particularity."

He recalled how "Lumen Gentium" teaches that the Church exists as universal and particular, without contradiction.

And the Church's pastoral program with immigrants must be carried out "in hierarchical communion with the bishop, the clergy, the laity and the religious," the archbishop said. He added that a concept of "mission" must also be taken into account.

"Mission is not only carried out in the so-called mission territories, traditionally in Asia and Africa, given that today the inhabitants of the different continents move, and with them, moves the mission," he observed.

"The Church becomes the history of a people on the way who, starting from the mystery of Christ and the circumstances of the people and groups that make it up, is called to build a new history, gift of God and fruit of human liberty," Archbishop Marchetto said. "This is the thread of the history that enters in God's order, in the paschal mystery of death and life, and also the thread of the joys and sorrows of migrants, pilgrims on earth."