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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 102, December 2006




(Cape Town, South Africa, 3-9 September 2006)



Vatican City, 31 August 2006



Prot. N. 2522/2006/A



Dear Rev. President, 

Dear Friends of the International Association of Civil Aviation Chaplains, 

It is with pleasure that I greet you all on the occasion of your 39th Annual Conference which is being held in Cape Town from 3rd to 9th September this year. I find it quite meaningful that this meeting, on the theme “Unity in Diversity”, is being hosted by South Africa, which – as Nelson Mandela stated in his address, on 10 May 2004, to mark ten years of democracy in the country – has “miraculously transcended the deep divisions of [their] past.” The people of South Africa – Mandela continued – “believe that South Africa belong to all who live in it, united in our diversity”. Unity in diversity is the strength of South Africa. It is also the strength of the Churches and ecclesial communities.

Indeed this expression is not new and it evokes a variety of images. One is a garden with a wide variety of flowers – of different colors, sizes and scents – harmoniously growing together to offer the beholder the magnificent splendor of its beauty. Another is the mosaic in which stones or bits of glass of different colors, shapes and sizes are put together to form a wonderful design. One more is a sonata, made up of many different notes that blend together in musical harmony, and worthy of mention is the tasty fruit salad.

The image that I find most meaningful for Civil Aviation Chaplains, in any case, is the one used by St. Paul (1 Cor 12:12-30), that of the human body, which is a unity although it has many parts. 



Rev. Adrian Henning

President IACAC

c/ St Edmund’s Parish Office 

Post Office Box 480


South Africa

“God has put all the separate parts into the body as he chose” – the Apostle to the gentiles states. – “It is precisely the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest which are the indispensable ones. … God has composed the body so that greater dignity is given to the parts which were without it, and so that there may not be disagreements inside the body but each part may be equally concerned for all the others. If one part is hurt, all the parts share its pain. And if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.” It eloquently describes your mission in the world’s airports, especially in the service of those who are the least advantaged, remembering that, nowadays, many among those who pass through them are rich and poor, migrants and refugees, tourists and pilgrims.  

Allow me, at this point, to recall the Document of the Second Vatican Council Lumen Gentium, which calls to mind unity in diversity of the one people of God. “Though there are many nations” - it declares - “there is but one people of God, which takes its citizens from every race, making them citizens of a kingdom which is of a heavenly rather than of an earthly nature. All the faithful, scattered though they be throughout the world, are in communion with each other in the Holy Spirit … This characteristic of universality which adorns the people of God is a gift from the Lord Himself.
… In virtue of this … each individual part contributes through its special gifts to the good of the other parts and of the whole Church. Through the common sharing of gifts and through the common effort to attain fullness in unity, the whole and each of the parts receive increase. … Moreover, within the Church particular Churches hold a rightful place; these Churches retain their own traditions … Between all the parts of the Church there remains a bond of close communion.” (LG 13).

Dear friends, as you discuss the ways by which you can best fulfill your ministry among travelers and workers in the Civil Aviation milieu, I invite you to bear in mind that “all men are called to be part of …[the] unity of the people of God” including not only “all those who believe in Christ, …[but]indeed the whole of mankind, for all men and women are called by the grace of God to salvation.” (ibid.).

Wishing your Conference success and richness in God’s blessings, I remain, in communion of prayer, 

                        Sincerely yours in the Lord,


Renato Raffaele Card. Martino



                                                                                    Archbishop Agostino Marchetto