Final Document on Recommendations for Airport Chaplains Released

Importance of New Evangelization and Outreach in Civil Aviation Field

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By Junno Arocho

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2012 ( The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Travelers today released the final document of the 15th World Seminar for Catholic Civil Aviation Chaplains and Chaplaincy Members. The seminar was held mid-June in Rome and concentrated on the theme of “New Evangelization in the Field of Civil Aviation”.

Benedict XVI greeted the participants at the start of the seminar and highlighted the importance of their ministry where they encounter thousands of people from different walks of life who are in need of the Gospel. 

“Airport communities also reflect the crisis of faith that affects many people, with the result that the content of Christian doctrine and the values that it teaches are no longer regarded as points of reference, even in countries with a long tradition of ecclesial life,” he said. 

The seminar was comprised of 79 Catholic chaplains and chaplaincy members from 31 international airports in Europe and the Americas. 

Regarding the New Evangelization in their ministry, the document states the need to pass “maintenance to mission from simply being responsive to requests to actively reaching out to those who are alienated from faith and Church.”

“Thus, the New Evangelization means an intensification of the apostolic outreach of airport ministry. For this outreach to take place and to be effective, chaplains must engage their imaginations and creativity with others in the Church, because the New Evangelization is, indeed, new,” the document stated. 

The final document also indicated that airport chaplains must not only focus on ministering to other, but must also focus on their own formation as believers. Recalling the words of the late Pope John Paul II, the document stated that the humanity of airport chaplains “must become a bridge and not an obstacle in the communication of Jesus Christ to men and women today.”

The document also makes several suggestion to chaplains on how best to reach people in their ministry who would not encounter faith or enter spiritual dialogue. Among the suggestions was the use of video presentations on various aspects of the faith before the celebration of Mass. 

Another important occasion to carry out their ministry, the document highlighted, was during emergencies. “Airport chaplains and chaplaincy members have an important evangelization mission to carry out in moments of emergencies and critical incidents. Therefore it is necessary that they be competent not only in pastoral terms but also on how to be concrete responders to the demands of such moments,” the document read. 

The document concluded that the proposals put forth would allow them to carry out their ministry effectively “not only to the benefit of the people we serve, but so that Christ may be more visible in the civil aviation milieu and become more and more the center of its life and activities.”

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