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Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move - N 85, April 2001

Regional Meeting of National Directors
for the Pastoral Care of Migration
in Asia and the Pacific

(Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 22-24 September 1999)

The meeting, convened by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, was opened by Bishop Bosco Lin, President of the Episcopal Commission on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People of the Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference. He reminded the participants of the relevance of the meeting, but also of the tragic circumstances in which it was taking place as a disastrous earthquake had just hit Taiwan. The President of the Pontifical Council, Archbishop Stephen Fumio Hamao, indicated that the meeting was part of a broader initiative, intended to gather the directors of the pastoral care for migrants in the four regions of the world and to conclude the process with a general meeting in Rome in October, 2000. Representatives from the Church in Australia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Saipan, Thailand, Taiwan, and the UAE attended the event.

The objective of the meeting was to bring the practice and the norms that the Church has established on the care of migrants to the regional level, and at the same time solicit from the regions their specific approach deriving from their specific context. At the meeting, a three-step methodology was adopted. After an introduction on points taken from documents of the Holy See or messages of Pope John Paul II, as well as on aspects derived from the teachings of the Church in Asia, the participants shared their experiences, highlighting specific situations and issues, and concluded with some recommendations.

1. Migration in Asia and the Pacific today.

There are two major migration systems in the region. Australia and New Zealand welcome permanent migrants, while in the rest of the region migration is basically temporary. The system of migration for settlement provides the best guarantees for the protection of the dignity of migrants and the opportunities for development. However, such a system is not without problems, including restrictions introduced in the access to benefits on the part of newly-arrived migrants, restrictions in the annual overall intake of migrants, and difficulties in the access to social mobility, particularly for those who have resettled as refugees. Although a humanitarian component is included, the selection of migrants has increasingly privileged skilled workers.

On the other hand, labor migration, which is prevalent in the rest of the Pacific and throughout Asia, rests on strict temporariness. Workers are admitted for short contracts that are non-renewable at times. The system is heavily influenced by the role of labor recruiters and brokers, who skim a considerable portion of the migration profits, while migrants are turned into indentured laborers until fees are paid. It lacks adequate protection in terms of labor and migration laws and migrants are often at the mercy of exploiting employers.

Women are increasingly part of the migration experience. This derives from "the comparative advantage of women's disadvantages" as migrant women are hired because they are economical, flexible and willing to take up jobs shunned by local men and women. This is a consequence of the occupational selectivity of immigration policies, and of the aggressive policies of the countries of origin. Consequently, migrant women are particularly placed in vulnerable situations.

Political and economic instability in the region has caused flows of refugees into neighboring countries. After the end of the Vietnamese crisis, refugees escaped from strife in Cambodia and Burma. Thailand, although not a signatory to the Geneva Convention, has repeatedly functioned as a country of first asylum. More recently, turmoil in Aceh and the tragedy in East Timor caused massive displacement of people. It is possible that some of them will seek resettlement in other countries, such as Australia.

Irregular migration has become widespread even in the Asia-Pacific region. In Australia and New Zealand the phenomenon is relatively under control, thanks to the geographic conditions and the administrative measures adopted, which discourage irregular flows of migrants. Uncompromising treatment of recent arrivals also contributes to reinforce a message that irregular migration is not tolerated. In Asia, irregular migration is present in two major forms: overstaying after the expiry of the visa granting entry as visitors, students, trainees or workers; or entering without proper documentation. The first form is rampant particularly in East Asia, while the second is prevalent in Southeast Asia. The difference is determined, among others, by the long borders shared by countries of origin and receiving countries in Southeast Asia, unlike those in East Asia. Irregular migration shares the same root causes with regular migration and is a function of the discrepancies between market forces and migration policies, of irregular employment and recruitment practices, of restrictive policies and of risk-taking choices by migrants. The worst form of irregular migration, which is increasing worldwide but also in the region, is trafficking of migrants. Reaping high profits from desperate people, traffickers victimize migrants by dumping them over borders, pushing them into illegal activities or keeping them in an indentured condition.

In its various forms, migration is the result of the current capitalist form of development, which globalization is expanding. The increasing integration of economies through the free circulation of capital, goods, investments and services, is generating widespread displacement and marginalization, increasing the gap between developed and developing countries, and the migration pressure of potential migrants. The need of developing countries to catch up fast with development leads to ignoring protection measures and the right of people to control their destiny.

• "The Church's response will be significant as long as it considers migration among its top priorities" (IV World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, 1998). As recommended by the VI FABC Plenary Assembly of 1995, the care for migrants in Asia should be given adequate attention by the Episcopal Conferences and individual bishops in Asia, particularly of the churches most involved in it, and should be approached as a task of the Christian community, as a missionary community that welcomes the stranger in her midst, not just as a duty of a few pastoral agents assigned to it. The same holds for the care of migrants in the Pacific.

2. The response of the Church

The Church in Australia and New Zealand, an immigrant Church in its origin, has organized already a long time ago the provision of care for new migrants, first from Eastern and Southern Europe and more recently from South America and Asia. At the structural level, the Church has diocesan and national offices. The care for migrants is provided by the local communities and by the care of chaplains for migrants. Various statements have been issued by the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference as well as by local bishops and a statement is currently being prepared in Australia to express the collective approach of the bishops to the challenges that migration presents.

Churches in Asia have increased their awareness and capacity to respond to the needs of migrants particularly in the last two decades, when the issue became more relevant. Receiving churches are often inadequately equipped to respond to the needs of migrants. In most cases, missionaries already present in the country and familiar with the language and culture of the migrants turned their attention to this new issue. In other cases, the Church specifically invited missionaries to help in this task. Currently, various Episcopal conferences or dioceses have organized a commission for the care of migrants in general, and sometimes for specific migrant groups. Many dioceses provided additional structures, such as centers and shelters. The Church in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia issued pastoral letters or statements on the care of migrants.

Among the Churches of origin, the Church in the Philippines, the second highest country of emigration in Asia, has dedicated considerable effort in creating awareness and speaking out in defense of migrants. The Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI) comprises various apostolates related to human mobility. Chaplains involved in the care of Filipinos abroad are many and specific efforts have been dedicated to improve their action and coordination, and two pastoral letters have been issued on this topic.

While appreciating the effort and the achievements already obtained, there are various issues that require further attention. Among them, the attention to all migrants, not just Catholic migrants, is very relevant, as the Church in Asia-Pacific is mostly a minority group and migrants are of all religious convictions. Second, a proper approach to the issue of irregular migrants must be established. Finally, further discussion is needed with regards to the specific characteristics and methods of the pastoral care of migrants in Asia.

Since migration is not a fact that exists in a vacuum, but very much part of the major forces that are shaping society today, the pastoral care of migrants must be incorporated in the general understanding of the pastoral care that the churches in Asia have elaborated. A complete understanding of such an approach can be derived from the various documents issued by the Asian churches. However, it is relevant to mention succinctly that the Church in Asia has set out on a path of renewal, which will receive a new emphasis at the Seventh Assembly of the FABC to be held in January 2000. The Assembly will center on the final document of the Asian Synod. Such a path of renewal rests on the conviction that, among death-dealing forces, there are also signs of hope, in particular "the growing consciousness regarding human dignity and empowerment of the poor, the growing voices of groups and peoples for humanized development, and the cries of the marginalized groups for participatory and democratic governance" (VI FABC Plenary Assembly, 1995). Thus the Church in Asia is committed to the preferential option for the poor, to a dialogue with other cultures and religions, to a style of collegiality, communion and co-responsibility, to a pastoral method of approaching pastoral issues and to establishing a communion of communities.

Undertaking the care of migrants as integral pastoral care, churches consider all migrants, including irregular migrants and sometimes most specifically irregular migrants, as part of their concern. In particular, the Church reaffirms that migrants, even though in an irregular situation, still hold rights, in particular human and labor rights; that before focusing on the irregularities of migrants, the irregularities committed against them should be tackled; and that the system which generates or condones irregular migration in time of convenience should be reformed.

In examining the relevance churches are giving to the issue of migration, it became apparent that, although with differences and notwithstanding its inclusion among the concerns at the 1995 VI FABC Plenary Assembly, migration is not a top priority for the churches in Asia. Sometimes this is the result of limited awareness of the issue, its dimensions and consequences. The group feels that migration should rise in the priorities of the Asian churches. At the same time, however, it feels that what is really relevant is a growth in the self-understanding of the Church in Asia, "a new way of being Church in Asia". In this regard, migration can be considered both a symptom and a parameter. The type of care for migrants that a church provides reveals the understanding of the universal character and of the nature of mission that a church has. Thus, increasing awareness for the needs of migrants, instead of detracting the attention of the Church from other pressing issues, produces a general reawakening on the values of the Gospel and the implications of mission. In fact, migration brings mission at our door.

• In implementing the recommendation of the Instruction on the Pastoral Care of Migrants, Conferences of Bishops and local ordinaries should see to it that appropriate pastoral structures are set up and provided with adequate human and material resources. They are to celebrate annual "Migration Day" (DPMC art. 24, sec. 2) as convenient and give adequate dissemination to the message of the Pope.

3. The parish, a place of welcome

In the words of John Paul II, the parish "is a privileged expression of community… the place where all the members of the community come together and interact" (Message for World Migrant's Day, 1999). The parish is also the most common form under which a migrant encounters the Church while abroad. Thus the various aspects of the relations between the parish and migration need to be examined.
a. Do parishes welcome migrants? A variety of experiences exists in the Churches in Asia and the Pacific. Such a variety does not rest simply on the different attitudes of parishioners and migrants. It is often a function of the number of migrants who become part of a parish, whether permanently or temporarily. While a small number of migrants can easily be welcomed, a large number is perceived as threatening, and in some cases migrants simply become the majority. It appears that progress is needed not simply in welcoming migrants, but in making them members of the parish and the parish council. In this regard, it is important for attention to migrants not to be delegated to some specialist, but be the concern of the community, along with appropriate programs for awareness, formation, and coordination, wherein migrants progressively become participants.
b. How can the parish welcome migrants? Existing experiences need to be shared and circulated. Providing liturgical services, physical structures and programs is certainly important. However, it is possible that although migrants may be present, they do not become part of the Christian community. Thus, common activities are to be encouraged. Likewise, a common participation in a parish from a variety of ethnic origins is to be preferred over the multiplication of specific structures for specific groups. The multicultural parish is encouraged to experience the universality of the Church, provided that cultures do not remain juxtaposed. Welcoming migrants in a parish is not an issue of integration (as against ghettoism or assimilation) but of growth as a Christian community with a universal awareness of its universal dimension.
c. What is the role of "Basic Ecclesial Communities" (BECs) in welcoming migrants? In Asia, local Churches have increasingly adopted BECs as basic forms of organizing the disciples and acquiring a new awareness of the role of the laity in the vocation and mission of the Church. The implementation of BECs among migrants, and within parishes where migrants are present, can be very effective.
d. Migrants must be formed to welcome their fellow migrants. It is not an uncommon experience among migrants, once settled in the receiving country for a long or short term, to develop forms of intolerance or rejection toward newcomers. The evangelization of migrants begins by turning them into mature Christians capable of welcoming the latest arrivals.

However, welcoming migrants within the Church and particularly in the parish is not the only issue. Migrants need to be welcomed in the receiving society. In this regard, the Asian experience is clearly revealing in that migrants are welcome only to the extent that they are useful. The recent crisis has revealed in dramatic forms that once the conditions of the economy change, migrants easily become the scapegoat and the target for repatriation. The Church must raise its voice towards a change from an understanding of migrants as commodities to welcoming them as persons.

• Welcome on the part of the Church is not a private but a community concern. For this reason it cannot be delegated to some persons in charge detached from the general interest of the parish community. It is the pastors' task to develop a suitable program of sensitization and formation of the parish community. This is an aspect of evangelization, which is to be addressed also to migrants. In fact, they must learn to welcome those who will come after them, migrants just as they are.
• The parishes should institute support groups to assist migrant families.
• In responding to the needs of all migrants, including non-Catholics, Churches in Asia and the Pacific are to seek the cooperation of other Christian churches and other religions in a dialogue to promote the dignity of persons and the unity of the human family.

4. The protection of the human rights of migrants

In the permanent migration system of Australia and New Zealand, migrants initially enjoy most of the rights of citizens and they can acquire citizenship after 2-3 years of residence. Such a system ensures that the rights of migrants are adequately respected. However, in the labor migration system, although the situation varies from country to country, migrants enjoy limited protection and have limited access to redress of grievances.

The issue of the protection of the rights of migrants in Asia must be included in the more general discussion on human rights in Asia. Such a discussion was stirred up some years ago when it was argued that the human rights codified in the Universal Declaration and in the Covenants are an expression of the western culture and are therefore not quite valid for Asia, which has its own original approach to human rights. In particular, human rights as codified in the covenants are based on an individualistic and conflictual approach, while Asians value the common good and a consensual approach to reality. In addition, the Confucian mentality and Asian values have shown how they function in producing the prolonged development of the region (the Asian miracle), demonstrating that it is not necessary to embrace the Western mentality to achieve development. The discussion, however, found some direction during the Vienna Conference of 1993, in which the universality and indivisibility of human rights were reaffirmed. Recently, the financial crisis in Asia cast some doubts on Asian values, and pointed towards the need for more transparency. To some, it is apparent that disregard of human rights presumably based on Asian values is mostly an ideological stand to slow down the democratization process.

It is also clear that a new threat to human rights derives from the invasive role of transnational corporations in this age of globalization, where governments renounce to standards and protection of workers to compete for investments. Migration, as a function of economic development, is also affected by this downgrading of standards.

The church, "expert in humanity", considers the protection of human rights inherent in pastoral care. Thus the care of migrants implies the protection of their rights. "The protection of the rights of migrant workers has also to be the responsibility of the local community and can be the catalyst for the protection and promotion of their dignity" (Symposium on Filipino Migrant Workers in Asia, 1993). Churches have organized various activities in this regards, from hiring lawyers, to challenging associations of Catholic lawyers to provide pro-bono services to migrants, to organizing para-legal groups and exposing cases of abuse. This is also an area in which sharing of experiences and practices can be very productive. Specifically, the Church encourages governments to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

• Convinced that pastoral care is integral attention for everyone and for the whole human person, the churches foster the promotion and protection of the rights of migrants. In this regard, the churches value the dialogue with civil society and participate in soliciting the ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
• Aware of the large number of migrant women in Asia and of the vulnerable occupations they undertake, specific attention should be given to ensure that missionaries for migrants are gender sensitive, that women participate in the care for migrants, and that migrant women are protected and have access to support initiatives, such as legal help and shelters.
• Considering the stress that migration brings to the family, both for those left behind as well as for those who migrate, and the fact that it "finds itself the victim of society, of the delays and slowness with which it acts, and even of its blatant injustice"(Familiaris Consortio, 46), specific initiatives should be organized for the protection of the sanctity of the family, such as support groups for the families in parishes of origin and initiatives to create a community in receiving parishes or places of work.
• To respond to the plight of migrants in an irregular situation and migrants who are victims of trafficking, and to provide guidance to the Christian communities and the pastoral agents involved in their care, as urged by John Paul II in his Message for World Migration Day 1995, bishops in Asia and the Pacific should issue a statement on irregular migration. They should recommend that some form of amnesty be provided to irregular migrants, as an expression of reconciliation as suggested by the Holy Father (IV World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, 1998).

5. Asia-Pacific Migration Desk

In the discussion on how best to organize for advocacy, reference was made to the Asian Migration Desk. In the 1992 Symposium in Manila, the Asian Migration Desk was already recommended. The issue was reiterated in the 1993 Meeting in Hong Kong on the care of Filipinos abroad, in the VI Assembly of FABC of 1995 in Manila. Finally, the 1996 Symposium in Manila mandated that it be implemented on an experimental basis for three years, assigning its implementation to the ECMI of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. It is clear that those who are involved in the issue of migration see the need for such an instrument to facilitate their work. After discussing the issue, the group agreed to reiterate the recommendation that an Asia-Pacific Migration Desk be established within the FABC and the Federation of Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO), basically with the functions already determined in 1996, with a particular stress in facilitating the networking of the national directors/executive secretaries of the commissions more actively involved in the issue of migration. It was also agreed to ask the good offices of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People to present the issue to the VII General Assembly of the FABC, which will take place in January 2000, and to the FCBCO.

• The group of National Directors asked for the recognition of the Asian Migration Desk, with the role and the functions defined on several occasions in preceding meetings at various levels, as an operative body within the FABC. This body is meant to exercise pastoral functions. The aforementioned petition should be presented to the General Assembly scheduled for January 2000. For this undertaking, the group requests the good offices of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

6. Migration Day and the Message of the Pope

Mandated by the Instruction on the Pastoral Care of Migrants (DPMC, art. 24 sec.2), Migration Day has been celebrated in different forms and with different emphasis in the various Churches. Some have it as a tradition established long time ago, as in Australia; others, like Japan, have it as International Day to include the concern for national migrants abroad; others speak of New Arrivals Day, as in Hong Kong, to emphasize the importance of immigration from the mainland; most have it as a tradition established in the past decade, because of the new relevance of migration; some churches have not started celebrating it so far. Typically, posters are produced, the message of the Holy Father is translated and circulated, appropriate liturgies are prepared and in some countries a collection is set aside for the needs of the pastoral care for migrants. As for the time of celebration, each country, and sometimes each diocese in the country, selects a different date. It seems impossible to agree on a common day for its celebration in all the Churches in Asia-Pacific. As to the suggestion to link up with NGOs and utilize December 18 (the day on which the Migrant Convention was adopted) as an International Day of Solidarity with Migrants, the date does not seem particularly suitable for the Churches.

The Message of the Pope is greatly appreciated and widely utilized. It is a message that sets the theme for the celebration, selected by the Pope himself at the suggestion of the Pontifical Council. Recommendations were made to ensure that the message is published on time, to be able to include it among the material prepared for Migration Day, and that it be kept short for stronger impact.

• Migration Day must be considered an important occasion to involve the community in the problems and welcome of migrants. Well-formed lay persons have the task of helping the local population to welcome migrants, not as a tool of production but as brothers to incorporate in the community and as persons with whom to establish human and also inter-religious dialogue. If they have not yet done so, the local Churches, especially in countries where migration is dominant, are invited to institute the celebration of Migration Day as soon as possible.
• Echoing the recommendation of John Paul II at the end of the IV World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees and repeated in the Message for Migration Day 1999, Churches in Asia and the Pacific are to be active in promoting the reduction, if not the total cancellation, of the international debt of developing nations, that greatly reduces the opportunities for development, while perpetuating the root causes that force people to migrate.

7. The pastoral care for migrants in the Asia-Pacific Region

In reflecting on the various aspects and forms which DPMC provides for the care of migrants, the various Churches described the actual forms that have been adopted. In Australia there are neither personal parishes nor missions for the care of souls, and neither are there migration delegates. Instead, there are many chaplains for migrants, two-thirds of whom are religious, and lay people are getting more involved. Also in the Indonesian case, lay people are active, particularly in regard to migrants in detention centers. The experience of Hong Kong is that in addition to the care provided by parishes there are specific initiatives (the center for Filipinos, three shelter houses, two Filipino chaplains, two full-time Filipino sisters and two Chinese social workers). Specific problems were mentioned, particularly regarding the right of people to have liturgy celebrated in their own rite even when specific circumstances seem to discourage it. Another question was the issue of visas to chaplains, which governments do not always grant or can easily withdraw.

The Instruction on the Pastoral Care of Migrants, the document that regulates the care of migrants in the Church, is being revised. This was encouraged by changes in the structure of the Church as well as by substantial changes in the form of migration and the needs for the care of migrants. The revision of the canonical part has already been completed, while the work on the pastoral component needs to be completed.

The contribution of the Churches in Asia could be their original approach to Christian life, including the specific structures and approaches adopted for the care of migrants. In this regard, the DPMC approach clearly reflected mostly the situation of migration of Europe, North America and Oceania. Churches in Asia have not elaborated a comprehensive approach to migration. However, some ideas can be derived from the general concepts that are prevalent in the life of the Church in Asia. For instance, the care of migrants should involve the whole community, not just some specialists. It is necessary for the laity to be involved, with its specific role. The charism of religious congregations working in the field of migration are to be considered at the service of the Church. It is appropriate for this work to be ecumenical and inter-religious at times.

The Church in Asia is still in the process of developing an Asian approach to the care of migrants and cannot disregard the fact that migrants need a specific pastoral care. This means that the pastoral care for migrants must be considered distinct from the ordinary pastoral care that every diocese carries out for its own community. Furthermore, it should not be confused with the care directed to the various groups in the local community, such as the youth, the sick, the elderly, the laborers, the couples, etc. The Church defines migrants as those who, for any reason whatsoever, live outside their own country or ethnic community. This is where the specific pastoral care for migrants originates. Being persons belonging to another ethnic community and therefore of another tongue and culture, the general pastoral care directed to the local community is not sufficient. It is necessary to devise one that is appropriate for them.

If the local Church is not equipped to respond to such a need, it should ask the cooperation of the Church of origin (DPMC, 31). However, a specific pastoral care should not lead to the establishment of parallel churches. In this sense, the chaplain or missionary for migrants must act "as a human bridge between two cultures and two mentalities" (Church and People on the Move, 6) and encourage them to overcome separation. Likewise, the care for migrants should last only as long as it is considered necessary.

• The Church should carry out a pastoral care of migrants that is "appropriate to their needs, and not inferior to that available to other Catholics in the dioceses" (Exsul Familia). It should not be the work only of detached missionaries, but of the whole local Church, priests, religious and lay people. It is the whole local Church that must pay attention to migrants, be ready to welcome them and undergo a cultural osmosis.
• Priests must encourage the commitment of lay people in receiving countries, especially when it is a matter of supporting the incorporation of foreigners, providing for their human needs and social progress and allowing them to exercise temporal responsibilities.

8. Cooperation between Churches of origin and receiving Churches

The response of the Churches in the Asia-Pacific region to migration gives witness to a factual cooperation among the Churches, best expressed by sending missionaries among migrants. Such a cooperation is usually solicited by the receiving Churches facing mission needs which they are not sufficiently equipped to answer. However, cooperation is also encouraged by Churches of origin, particularly when the awareness and concern for migrants abroad increase. In this regard, the widespread effort of the Church in the Philippines, through ECMI, to bring about the cooperation among Filipino missionaries through meetings in the various regions of the world, has been very significant and effective. Such a cooperation is also useful in ensuring that priests who are willing to go abroad are genuinely interested in being missionaries for migrants. Unfortunately, the need for priests sometimes pushes bishops in receiving countries to bypass procedures mutually agreed upon with the Churches of origin. "There is need for greater on-going dialogue between the Church of origin and the receiving Church" (Symposium on Filipino Migrant Workers in Asia, 1993).

Changes in migration and in the life of the Church have given more relevance to the role of the laity in caring for migrants. There is also a need for cooperation to facilitate the formation and participation of lay persons in this sector. In fact, formation of both missionaries and laity has become crucial, since working with migrants does require preparation. However, programs in this regard are lacking. It is urgent for concrete programs to be formulated through cooperation between the various offices involved in this field (Pontifical Council for Migrants, Office for Human Development, Scalabrini Migration Center). A commendable initiative, utilized for instance by the diocese of Osaka, consists in sending those who are being trained to work in the field of migration to the migrants' countries of origin. There they learn the migrants' language and culture, but most of all they personally experience life in migration.

Cooperation is most useful in responding to the difficult situations in which migrants find themselves. Handling of cases and serving migrants in detention, for instance by providing assistance for repatriation, are examples of concrete forms of cooperation. In this field, establishing and fostering cooperation with the NGOs involved in migration is very effective. The Church should play a more active role in promoting the involvement of and networking with NGOs, especially those of Christian inspiration.

The new face of migration being witnessed in Asia, with the widespread participation of non-Christian migrants, has broadened the concept of cooperation among Churches. Sometimes such a cooperation is impossible or irrelevant, while cooperation with non-Christian religious leaders, as initiated in Thailand and Taiwan, is the only way to benefit migrants.

Cooperation with the Pontifical Council is appreciated and should be expanded in practical ways, keeping in mind the specific role of animation and encouragement that the Council plays. The good offices of the Pontifical Council might be requested to explore ways to ensure that the pastoral care for migrants in Asia does not continue to depend on contributions from Europe. The Pontifical Council, on its part, appreciates receiving documents produced by the various Episcopal Commissions, in particular, the annual report of their activities.

• Dialogue between churches of origin and receiving churches is to be encouraged, including the use of exposures and seminars in order to understand the causes and dynamics of migration and to appreciate the features of each other's Christian traditions.
• Since the pastoral care of migrants is a specific pastoral care, it requires appropriate characteristics. Priests in charge of the pastoral care of migrants should have a good knowledge of the migrants' idiom, or better, language. This means the totality of the forms by which they express their thoughts, feelings and, in particular, their religiosity. If no priests are adequately prepared, Bishops have to provide for their preparation or send for them from the migrants' countries of origin. It is also along these lines that the collaboration between Church of origin and Church of arrival is expressed.

9. Migration and Mission

After reflecting on the characteristics and requirements of the mission to migrants (language remains a crucial aspect in living and expressing the faith, as well as in participating fully in the life of local Christian communities), the other side of the coin also needs to be examined. Evangelizing migrants is a missionary activity, and its implications go beyond the ordinary pastoral care organized by the Church. Many examples were offered on evangelization through witness. Migrants have become a privileged object of evangelization, as the new poor to whom the Gospel is proclaimed. In this regard, although in some respects migration in Asia is a sign of a society which abuses and mortifies life, at the same time, it is also a "kairos", a privileged moment to live and witness the Gospel.

However, migrants are also subjects of evangelization, particularly when they are capable of giving witness to the faith. Unfortunately, various situations derived from migration (loneliness, need for profit, irregular situations) often push migrants into becoming counter-witnesses of the Gospel. Mission among migrants does not only imply preparing them to remain faithful to the values of the gospel, but also to become capable of proclaiming it with their life.

In Redemptoris Missio (37) John Paul II indicated that the concept of mission is being modified by the major social changes in society today. In Asia, Christians are required to constantly dialogue with persons of different convictions and beliefs. Thus, they have learned that mission is much more than conversion and that establishing dialogue and peace in society is part of the Christian mission. Migration can be considered one of those forces that have an impact on the concept of mission. However, mission from the perspective and experience of mission with and among migrants has to be more profoundly rediscovered.

• Migration has always served as a vehicle for transmitting the faith throughout the history of the Church and in the evangelization of whole countries. To this end, those who are involved in the pastoral care of this phenomenon should first of all take care of the catechesis of adults, promote Christian formation and growth in the faith of individual migrants, encourage the active celebration of the sacraments of Christian life starting from baptism, foster the formation in prayer of the migrant community, work for a coherent commitment in giving a witness of charity. These are the necessary means for migrants to become agents of communion in diversity and collaborate effectively in the work of salvation.
• In many countries where the majority belong to other Churches or Christian denominations, the presence of Catholic migrants should contribute to a more serene mutual understanding and, as a consequence, to the ecumenical movement.

10. Conclusion

We salute the dawn of the new millennium with a Jubilee year, the Lord's time of favor. It is a time for renewal and conversion, a time for growth as a community of disciples, a time for dialogue and evangelization. In the specific mission with migrants, we are called to work toward the re-establishment of the original order of God, broken when migrants are forced to go abroad or are victimized in their experience; we are asked to become instruments of reconciliation within societies and groups ruled by divisiveness and self-interest; we are invited to provide home and community for migrants separated from their homeland and families. With migrants, we will work in the new millennium toward a "holistic life, … a life with integrity and dignity, a life of compassion and solidarity" (VI FABC Plenary Assembly). With migrants we want to be at the service of the mission of the Son and the Spirit for new heavens and a new earth, the Kingdom of God.