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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 105 (Suppl.), December 2007





The Event

The meeting was attended by 73 participants from 21 countries (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, England, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Korea, Malta, The Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico, Spain, Switzerland, USA and Zambia).

The Conference opened with an Inaugural Address by Card. Renato Raffaele Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, who outlined the teaching of Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI on violence and terrorism, stressing that there can never be any justification for violence towards innocent people and the need to respect human life throughout the world. He went on to emphasize the necessity of cooperation among members of different religions to respond adequately to the phenomenon of terrorism by developing a dialogue which emphasizes the oneness of the human family.

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, welcomed all the participants to the conference. In presenting the seminar he stressed that terrorism must not have the final say and that we, as Christians, firmly believe that it is our right to defend ourselves from terrorism and, at the same time, respond to it with forgiveness. In any event, human rights must be duly respected, including those of terrorists themselves.

Archbishop Angelo Amato, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, speaking on “The problem of evil: philosophical and theological reflections”, shared with the Seminar participants some of his concerns, notably the problem of the presence of evil in the world in various forms, one of which being terrorism. Understanding the phenomenology of evil helps to come to terms with its most negative experiences and develop strategies to combat it.

Mr. Francesco Cappè, Coordinator of the Security Governance/Counter Terrorism Cluster of the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute in Turin, was invited to address the topic of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. This involves a multilateral (multi-agency) approach to this international problem and the development of new initiatives to combat global terrorism.

Mr. Iain Jack, Senior Security Advisor in Europe of International Air Transport Association (IATA), presented a paper on the Program to Strengthen Civil Aviation Security.

This involves integrating key measures which have been developed by international agreement into the day to day practices of airport security personnel. 

During the Seminar some reports were read, the one of United States Conference of Civil Aviation Chaplains (NCCAC) by Fr Michael Zaniolo, President. The report of the European Secretariat of Civil Aviation Chaplains and Chaplaincy Members was presented by Fr David Lacy, Secretary General, who talked about the development of an European network of chaplains and plans for the future. A new website has been launched.

The reports were concluded by Rev. Andrea Krasznai, Acting President of the ecumenical and inter-religious International Association of Civil Aviation Chaplains (IACAC), who discussed the problem of terrorism and the effect it is having on international air travel. 

On the first day, Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino presided over the Eucharistic Concelebration with Vespers, while the second day began with a Eucharistic Concelebration with Lauds, by the Tomb of St Peter, in the Vatican Basilica, presided over by Cardinal Paul Poupard, also with the participation of Archbishop Marchetto.

Bishop Brian Farrell, L.C., Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, presented the ecumenical collaboration in relation to the threats of terrorism. He stated that ecumenism stands for unity of spirit, communion, collaboration, friendship, respect for others and their beliefs.

Cardinal Paul Poupard, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, later on stressed the importance of dialogue within the chaplaincy community, and not only as a means to combat terrorism.

From the concrete field of the mission of airport chaplains, Rev. Fr. Paschal Ryan, Chaplain of London Heathrow International Airport, shared his experience of supporting travelers and workers enabling them to cope with threats of terrorist attacks. He outlined the historical context for the present situation whereby Heathrow is a prime target for terrorist violence. He shared his own personal experiences of counseling those affected by terrorist attacks and concluded on a positive note of hope.

Rev. Fr. Michael Zaniolo read the paper sent by Fr. David Baratelli, Chaplain at Newark International Airport, who unfortunately could not be present for family reasons. In his report, Fr. Baratelli referred to his experience of ministering to the victims of the September 11 event, and to the members of their families.

The third day opened with a Eucharistic concelebration presided over by Archbishop Agostino Marchetto and the morning was dedicated to the General Audience with Pope Benedict XVI. Fr. Michael Zaniolo and Fr. David Lacy, as representatives of the Seminar participants because of their function, personally greeted the Holy Father, who had previously extended a cordial welcome to the group.

Here are some of the suggestions that came out of the seven working groups, to be followed by the conclusions and resolutions:

  1. There is a need for chapels to be well sited and their location clearly indicated in the airports.
  2. Chaplains need to be involved in the airport’s emergency relief programs.
  3. Reasons need to be given for the security searches, and different language groups should receive instructions written in at least the major languages currently being spoken in the world.
  4. Chaplains can act as interpreters and counselors for people under severe stress at the airports.
  5. A smiling chaplain can be a great lift to someone who is anxious or distressed.
  6. Chapels can be places not just of worship but of meeting with those who belong to other religions.
  7. Chaplains felt that their mission could also be seen as being available, a visible human  presence, a listening ear, a sensitive awareness so that there could be true dialogue should the need arise.
  8. Chaplains are called to be “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor 5:20), welcoming the stranger.



  1. Terrorism is a phenomenon over which religious leadership has a significant impact by building bridges of tolerance, breaking cycles of violence, through understanding and forgiveness, and raising a prophetic voice to address injustice, which sometimes lies at the root of the phenomenon.
  2. Terrorism leads people to question their faith; hence it is necessary to give answers to their questions.
  3. Terrorism achieves one of its goals when it generates fear in individuals and communities, and destabilizes structures. This must consequently be fought.
  4. Air travel brings people together but simultaneously, for fear of terrorism, it drives them apart. It is therefore necessary to dispel this fear.



  1. Air chaplaincy must be a voice, an advocate for systemic changes to address terrorism.
  2. Chaplains have to search out possibilities for dialogue and education on the local level.
  3. Chaplains must be prepared to respond to various groups affected by a possible terror event/attack.