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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move - N° 93,  December 2003, pp. 11-12

Address of H.E. Stephen Fumio Cardinal Hamao

too His Holiness Pope John Paul II 


Holy Father,

It is my privilege to present to you the participants of the Fifth World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees. We are about three hundred participants and include Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, Priests and Religious, lay people engaged in the pastoral care of migrants and refugees. They include some of your closest collaborators in the Curia Romana as well as Members and Consultors of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. The group that surely profits the most from this Congress and makes its particular contribution to it are the Representatives of the Episcopal Migration Commissions or similar structures from about 100 Local Churches throughout the world. They are closely linked to the service of religious Institutes of men and women engaged in this area, who are represented here. Many lay Associations and ecclesial Movements that contribute to the Church’s vitality today and who directly or indirectly serve the cause of migrants and refugees are present with us too. We also rejoice in the participation of Fraternal Delegates from the Anglican Communion, the Ecumenical Patriachate, the Luthern World Federation, and the World Council of Churches. They deeply share our concerns in the often dramatic world of human mobility. Our efforts to work together in this field, which is inspired by the Holy Spirit - we believe - is a force that brings all followers of Jesus Christ closer to Him and to unity. Finally, we are honored with Representations of Diplomatic Missions to the Holy See who manifest the interests of their Governments in a reality that today no civil Institution can ignore and listen to the credible testimonies of pastoral workers who are daily engaged in it.

Allow me also to thank you, Most Holy Father, in the name of all migrants, refugees and itinerant people who are the concern of our Pontifical Council, for the honor conferred when you raised me to the dignity of the Cardinalate. It is an honor not only for myself personally but also for the Pontifical Council that I represent, as well as recognition for the generous day to day efforts of so many Bishops, Priests, and Pastoral Workers who are represented here.

Holy Father, we began this Congress celebrating the Eucharist at the Tomb of Peter on the Solemnity of the Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul. Now we are privileged to be with the Successor of Peter, and we ask you to give us a word of wisdom and encouragement with your Apostolic Blessing as we try to fulfil the mission that the Lord has entrusted to us.