Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
People on the Move
N° 105 (Suppl.), December 2007
There are events that change the course of history. The tragic terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and other sensitive targets in the United States on that fateful date, September 11, 2001, were certainly among these. They have shattered nations’ and people’s sense of security and hard-earned world peace suddenly seemed very fragile. There is that eerie feeling that enemies are creeping in the shadows. You do not know who they are, what or whom they are against and how you should defend yourself.
Airplanes and airports had a major role in that tragedy and therefore they have been kept under tight control since then. The result? People who travel by air are constantly reminded that they can be victims of a terrorist attack. Airport and flight security measures have been tightened. Air crews and employees in airport-based services no longer enjoy the privilege of minimum security check. Everyone is a suspect and stress in the airports can reach alarming levels.
It is now in this atmosphere of utmost distrust that our airport chaplains and pastoral agents carry out their mission of giving witness to Jesus Christ’s Gospel of love, individually and as a community, and sharing it with those who are open to it. The logical question that comes is: “How are they to communicate a message of love when everything around them speaks of possible hatred?” They know that they have to face the harsh reality of every day, together with the airport community and all airport users and passengers. They have to be in this world with the conviction that love, kindness, solidarity, understanding and cooperation are effective “weapons” against distrust and fear.
It is however necessary to know how to translate this in concrete terms. This is the reason why the XIII World Seminar of Catholic Civil Aviation Chaplains and Chaplaincy Members, held in Rome on 23 - 26 April 2007 discussed the theme: “Dialogue in Airport Chaplaincies: towards a response to terrorism.”
With the publication of the Seminar’s proceedings we hope that the facts, reflections and experiences that were presented, as well as the conclusions and the recommendations will help not only Civil Aviation chaplains and pastoral agents in their mission but also all those who do not want terrorism to eradicate love and hope for a better future from people’s hearts.
Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino
X Archbishop Agostino Marchetto