VATICAN CITY, OCT. 25, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Church has to meet the challenge of helping migrants to keep their faith, even if their destination countries provide less support than their native cultures, says Benedict XVI.
This is the theme taken up by the Pope's message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which will be celebrated Jan. 15.
The message was released by the Vatican today.
"Today we feel the urgent need to give a fresh impetus and new approaches to the work of evangelization in a world in which the breaking down of frontiers and the new processes of globalization are bringing individuals and peoples even closer," the Holy Father wrote. "This is both because of the development of the means of social communication and because of the frequency and ease with which individuals and groups can move about today. In this new situation we must reawaken in each one of us the enthusiasm and courage that motivated the first Christian communities to be undaunted heralds of the Gospel's newness."
The Pontiff observed how migrants often are "constrained to consider [Christ] no longer relevant to their lives, to lose the meaning of their faith, no longer to recognize themselves as members of the Church, and often lead a life no longer marked by Christ and his Gospel."
He said that their emigration often implies leaving behind "peoples characterized by their Christian faith" and finding themselves in countries with a Christian minority or where faith "has been reduced to a cultural fact."
"Here the Church is faced with the challenge of helping migrants keep their faith firm even when they are deprived of the cultural support that existed in their country of origin, and of identifying new pastoral approaches, as well as methods and expressions, for an ever vital reception of the Word of God," the Pope continued. "In some cases this is an opportunity to proclaim that, in Jesus Christ, humanity has been enabled to participate in the mystery of God and in his life of love. Humanity is also opened to a horizon of hope and peace, also through respectful dialogue and a tangible testimony of solidarity. In other cases there is the possibility of reawakening the dormant Christian conscience through a renewed proclamation of the Good News and a more consistent Christian life to enable people to rediscover the beauty of the encounter with Christ who calls Christians to holiness wherever they may be, even in a foreign land."
The Holy Father exhorted Christian communities to be close to migrant workers and their families, not only "accompanying them with prayer, solidarity and Christian charity," but also "fostering new political, economic and social planning that promotes respect for the dignity of every human person, the safeguarding of the family, access to dignified housing, to work and to welfare."
He also mentioned international students and their particular situation. At the presentation of the World Day message, it was announced that these students are expected to number 7 million by the year 2025.
"Christian communities are to be especially sensitive to the many young men and women who, precisely because of their youth, need reference points in addition to cultural growth, and have in their hearts a profound thirst for truth and the desire to encounter God," the Pope said. "Universities of Christian inspiration are to be, in a special way, places of witness and of the spread of the new evangelization, seriously committed to contributing to social, cultural and human progress in the academic milieu. (...) If these students meet authentic Gospel witnesses and examples of Christian life, it will encourage them to become agents of the new evangelization."
The Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers is in the process of organizing a world conference on the pastoral care of international students. The congress, scheduled for Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 in Rome will focus on the theme "International Students and the Meeting of Cultures."
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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-33730?l=english