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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 101 (Suppl.), August 2006



Address to the Holy Father



Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino

President of the Pontifical Council 

for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People



Most Holy Father, 

We have come to the most awaited moment of this XVII Plenary Session of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People: to pay homage, for the first time all together, to the Successor to the Apostle Peter, right here in the See of Rome. Today we wish to give witness to our total communion with Your Holiness and to assure you that we fully support and adhere to your “programme of governance” which, as you said, is “to listen, together with the whole Church, to the word and the will of the Lord, to be guided by Him, so that He himself will lead the Church at this hour of our history”[1].

In the very first message of Your Pontificate[2], Your Holiness addressed the followers of other religions assuring them “that the Church wants to continue to weave an open and sincere dialogue with them, in the search for the true good of the human being and of society” and “to continue the promising dialogue … with the different civilizations, so that mutual understanding may create the conditions for a better future for all”. You reaffirmed this will “to continue building bridges of friendship with the followers of all religions”[3]during your meeting with the representatives of some Muslim Communities in Cologne, last August. To them[4]you said that we, Christians and Muslims, “must face together the many challenges of our time” since “interreligious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra”, but is “in fact a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends.” 

What better bridges can there be between countries and continents than people who move between them, permanently or temporarily, voluntarily or by force? People of course bring with them their identity and characteristics. As they leave their land of origin and enter a new environment, they inevitably come face to face with people who are different, in many cases with a different tradition and culture, and also with a different religion. Migrants and other itinerant people, therefore, can be living bridges of friendship, but can also be instruments of hatred, as history has often taught us. We know that Your Holiness wishes us to learn a lesson from the past, to avoid repeating the same mistakes. We know that you want us to “seek paths of reconciliation and learn to live with respect for each other’s identity”[5].  

This is why, this time, the Members and Consultors, together with us, Superiors and Officials of the Pontifical Council, have come together to discuss “Migration and Itinerancy from and towards Islamic majority countries.”

We hope that our work during these days will be a contribution to that profound desire that Your Holiness very clearly expressed: “If together we can succeed in eliminating from hearts any trace of rancor, in resisting every form of intolerance and in opposing every manifestation of violence, we will turn back the wave of cruel fanaticism that endangers the lives of so many people and hinders progress towards world peace”[6].

Your Holiness, with gratitude, we joyfully wait for your words of guidance and encouragement in our desire to bring the light of Christ to the people of all cultures and creeds in this world of human mobility, that yearns for Him, but does not know it.  

[1]Benedict XVI, Homily at the Mass, Imposition of the Pallium and Conferral of the Fisherman's Ring for the Beginning of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome, St. Peter’s Square, 24 April 2005. 
[2]Benedict XVI, First Message, at the end of the Eucharistic Concelebration with the Members of the College of Cardinals, Sistine Chapel, 20 April 2005, no. 6.
[3]L’Osservatore Romano 25 April 2005, p. 4.
[4]Benedict XVI, Address at the Meeting with Representatives of Some Muslim Communities, Apostolic Journey to Cologne on the occasion of the XX World Youth Day, 20 August 2005.
[5] ibid.
[6] ibid.