Barajas airport in Spain


Pope to Chaplains: Airports Open Unexpected Paths of Evangelization

Meets with Participants of International Seminar of Catholic Civil Aviation Chaplains and Chaplaincy Members

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“Even in airports, Christ the Good Shepherd wants to take care of his sheep through the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, where the meeting with the infinite mercy of God opens unexpected paths of evangelization.”

These were the words of Pope Francis to participants of the International Seminar of Catholic Civil Aviation Chaplains and Chaplaincy Members. The conference, which was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, reflected on the theme: “Evangelii Gaudium: What support for the pastoral ministry of airport chaplaincy?”

In his address, the Holy Father greeted the participants, highlighting their reflections on how to apply the pastoral indications of his Apostolic Exhortation in the pastoral ministry at airports to the thousands who pass through daily.

“The airport is a place of encounter for so many people who travel, for work, for tourism, for other needs,” he said. “Migrants and refugees, children and elderly people, people who are in need of healing and special attention transit through you.”

Noting that employees working there are also in need of their ministry, the Pope said that airport chaplains are called to and sought after by those in need of comfort and encouragement. Even airports, he said, can become a place of encounter with Christ, particularly through the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation. In this way, those they meet can encounter the “compassionate face of God”, particularly during the approaching Holy Year of Mercy.

“Airport chaplaincies are called to be a place of unity in diversity for all the categories of people,” the Pope said. “Airports seem like a city within a city, where multiple realities intertwine and overlap. Like a great city, the airport is a cosmopolitan environment, multi-ethnic and multi-religious, and you, chaplains and members of the chaplaincies, are immersed in the life of this singular community; and therefore it is important to collaborate with docility and to always be attuned to the Holy Spirit, that creates unity in diversity.”

The 76 year old Pontiff went on to say that the mission in airports is to present divine mercy to all through words of consolation to those people that chaplains come across.

Concluding his address, Pope Francis encouraged the airport chaplains to continue their mission of turning airports into a place where people can find peaceful brotherhood through love and dialogue.

“I pray together with you to the Lord so that your apostolate, that participates in the universal mission of the Church, may be an effective proclamation of the Good News,” he said.

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Junno Arocho Esteves

Newark, New Jersey, USA Bachelor of Science degree in Diplomacy and International Relations.

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