Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
People on the Move
N° 111, December 2009
I. The Event
1. The Sixth World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees took place between the 9th and 12th November 2009 in the Vatican Aula Magna, at Via della Conciliazione, No. 5. The theme of the Congress was “A pastoral response to the phenomenon of migration in the era of globalization. Five years after the Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi”.
2. Assembled together were 320 delegates from all Continents. Among these were cardinals and a patriarch of a Catholic Oriental Church, archbishops, bishops, priests, men and women from religious congregations, pastoral agents, representatives of ecclesial movements and lay associations, fraternal delegates from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Anglican Communion, the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches. Moreover, ambassadors and representatives of diplomatic missions accredited to the Holy See, members of international and non-governmental organizations, experts in academic fields, and representatives of organizations directly or indirectly engaged with migrants and refugees were present.
3. On Monday 9th November 2009 the Congress opened with a Eucharistic Concelebration in Saint Peter’s Basilica presided over by His Eminence Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State.
4. The Inaugural Session began with the singing of the ‘Veni Creator’ followed by the Opening Address of Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (PCPCMIP). He asserted that globalization has brought benefits but also increased the need for many to migrate. This poses a challenge for contemporary society due to the interconnectedness of the many factors that characterize migration. As the future unfolds, new instruments and strategies will be necessary to meet the needs and situations related to the migration phenomenon which is continually evolving and growing.
5. Special Addresses from authorities and guests of honour were then received, namely from Dr. Renato Giuseppe Schifani, President of the Senate of the Italian Republic, Mr. William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Mr. Laurens Jolles, Regional Representative for Europe of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Fr. Pierre Martinot-Lagarde, SJ, the Representative of the International Labour Office (ILO). Their addresses underlined, among other things, the importance for the Church to collaborate with States, as well as with International and National Organizations, in the effort to protect the rights of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons (IDPs), to manage the phenomenon responsibly and to mitigate the severe effects of the present economic crisis on migrant workers.
6. A major highlight of the Congress was the audience with Pope Benedict XVI at 12 noon in the Apostolic Palace. The Holy Father drew on the image of the ancient biblical people who, fleeing from slavery in Egypt with the dream of the promised land in their hearts, crossed the Red Sea and, instead of immediately reaching their desired goal, had to face the harshness of the desert. Migration, he said, is an opportunity to highlight the unity of the human family and thus the Church invites the faithful to open their hearts to migrants and their families knowing that they are not just a 'problem', but constitute a 'resource' to be appropriately appreciated for humanity’s authentic progress and development.
7. The first of the Cultural Presentations, offered by a Latin-American group, representing the American and European continents, opened the afternoon session.
Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Secretary of the PCPCMIP, then pronounced his Conference entitled “A pastoral response to the phenomenon of migration in the era of globalization. Five years after the Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi”. He observed that the Instruction had been “received”, theologically speaking, by Pope Benedict XVI, in his first social encyclical Caritas in veritate. Throughout his talk Archbishop Marchetto drew on the insights of this Encyclical in relation to issues concerning globalization and migration.
8. “Globalization and Migrations” was the title of the 2nd Conference on the first day, which was given by Prof. Stefano Zamagni, from the Department of Economics, University of Bologna (Italy). He considered the distinctive features of the migration question in the era of globalization, giving attention to three in particular: the feminization of migration causing a unequivocal care drain, in addition to the well known, brain drain; the loss of meaning of the traditional distinction between countries of origin, transit and destination, so much so that we talk today about circular migrations, and the paradoxical case of Africa. He also criticised the proposal to base migratory policies on the “Principle of Selectively Delayed Economic Integration” and defended the view of establishing a World Migration Organization, as implicitly suggested in the recent encyclical Caritas in veritate.
9. A Round Table presentation on the theme “A pastoral response to the phenomenon of urbanisation and internal migrations” developed the topic further with presentations leaning heavily on experiences from three different continents. From Africa, H.E. Cardinal John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi (Kenya), discussed the case of Kenya where refugees continue to pour into the country as a result of the ongoing escalation of fighting in Somalia. From Asia, H. E. Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Mân, Archbishop of Thàn-Phô Hô Chí Minh, Hôchiminhville (Vietnam), described the situation of migration in his country, which had changed with a new ‘open door’ policy. H. E. Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, Archbishop of São Paulo (Brazil), spoke of the Latin American Continent which has witnessed a rapidly increasing urbanization during the past years.
10. The morning session on Tuesday 10th November 2009 was presided over by H.E. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, who introduced the work of the day by briefly reflecting on the way in which the migration phenomenon affects the Catholic Oriental Churches.
11. The 3rd Conference followed with the title “A specific pastoral approach towards young and adolescent migrants and refugees” and was given by Rev. Fr. Gabriele Parolin, Regional Superior of the Scalabrinian Missionaries for Europe and Africa. He stated that young migrants are not different from their peers. In building their future, they need to learn to accept diversity and find a role in society. What is required is a re-thinking of youth pastoral care, at the diocesan and national levels, that take into consideration diversity in a multicultural reality.
12. “The co-operation between the Church of origin and the receiving Church in the pastoral care of migrants and refugees” was the theme given to the Round Table that followed. First to give his presentation in this regard was the Most Reverend Paul Ruzoka, Archbishop of Tabora (Tanzania), who approached his topic from his experience in Western Tanzania where he had been a Pastor for almost twenty years. The Most Reverend Renato Ascencio León, Bishop of Ciudad Juárez (Mexico), spoke of the impetus given by the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in America” (1999), which had encouraged the Episcopal Conferences and frontier Bishops of the United States and Mexico to go on in the dialogue that has always been present in their ministry of welcome and service towards migrants. Lastly, the Rev. Msgr. Aldo Giordano, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Council of Europe (Strasbourg), formerly Secretary General of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, stated that over the past ten years the bishops of Africa and Europe have had an experience of communion and solidarity focused on questions related to migration.
13. The second Cultural Presentation, which was given by migrants from Africa, began the afternoon session.
This was followed by the 4th Conference under the title “A pastoral approach towards a better integration of migrants and refugees in the context of ecumenical, inter-religious and intercultural dialogue”, given by the Most Rev. Josef Voss, President of the Episcopal Commission for Migrants, Germany. He asserted that the Church considers herself the promoter of an integration policy that does not only serve the interests of the host society, but also the needs of the migrants and refugees. By its nature, the Church is a community of believers of all languages, races and peoples, and therefore, she herself is a place of integration. Working in the context of migration and flight means dealing with people of the Christian faith and people of other religions and cultures. The ecumenical perspective helps to seriously consider every culture in which the life of faith is expressed so that migrants can live it in their own culture and tradition.
14. The Christian response was broadened through the statements of the fraternal delegates. The Representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, His Eminence Metropolitan Stephanos of Tallinn and all Estonia, called to mind that the parable of the Last Judgement in St. Matthew’s Gospel insists that the criterion for our entry into the Kingdom will be our attitude towards the poor and the foreigners. Therefore the Churches must mobilize themselves together and adopt the attitudes and behaviour that are consistent with the precepts of the Gospel.
15. On behalf of the Anglican Communion, the Rev. Canon Nicholas Sagovsky stated that it is primarily the local Church that welcomes the migrants and refugees who come into the community. Recently, this year, the decision was taken to breathe fresh life into the Anglican Refugees and Migrants Network, which is now preparing for an international consultation, with representatives from the whole Anglican Communion, together with ecumenical guests and other colleagues.
16. Ms. Franca Di Lecce, the Director of the Service for Refugees and Migrants of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy, who represented the Lutheran World Federation, stated that the theme of migrations is at this time very central to the reflections of the Protestant Churches, with the dignity of the human person and the centrality of human rights at the centre of the debate. Present migration policies have only increased irregularity, trafficking, marginalization, social tension, diffidence and racism.
17. Ms. Carla Khijoyan, the Programme Executive for Migration and Social Justice of the World Council of Churches, spoke of migration as one of the inevitable consequences of globalization which has a massive impact on the Church and the local ecumenical movement. Recently the WCC has used the biblical mandate of ‘welcoming the stranger’ to challenge the Churches to greater action in favour of migrants. The establishment by the WCC of a Global Ecumenical Network on Migration has brought together partners on a global scale.
18. On Wednesday 11th November 2009, the morning began with the 5th Conference entitled “Needs and challenges of ecumenical and inter-religious co-operation in today’s situation of migrants and refugees (The experience of the ecclesial movements)” by Ms. Daniela Pompei, from the Community of Saint Egidio (Italy). She stated that dialogue and cooperation amongst Churches and religions have become a necessity for millions of people who live and believe in different ways alongside each other. The ecclesial movements have also contributed to the effort of building a Christian framework for interaction that is open to dialogue and meeting other people.
19. “Co-operation between the Church and civil institutions for the well-being of migrants and refugees” was the topic of the 6th Conference, given by Dr. John Klink, President of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC). The Church’s relationship with Civil Society and its institutions has recently been characterized by responsibility-sharing. One of the most effective means for the Church to continue and intensify its cooperation with civil institutions for the benefit of migrants and refugees is the support of the Holy See for the establishment and strengthening of these civil institutions, including the United Nations. Contributions made in recent years by the Holy See at the United Nations, and ICMC’s important global migration advocacy role illustrate where the Church can and does effectuate positive changes for refugees and migrants.
20. The third cultural presentation, on this occasion by a Filipino migrant youth group, representing Asia and Oceania, opened the afternoon session.
This was followed by a Round Table on the theme “The pastoral care of migrants and refugees in prison and in detention camps”. The Most Reverend John Charles Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City (USA), discussed the detention of undocumented immigrants in the United States and the challenges that the Church faces in providing pastoral care to a growing and inaccessible population. The Most Reverend Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, OFM, Vicar Apostolic of Tripoli (Libya), affirmed that the Church in Libya today is made up entirely of foreigners, all immigrants. Thanks to the prison authorities’ permission, it is possible to visit those detained in the prisons spread out in different areas of Tripoli and its surroundings, as well as those in a center in Misurata where about 650 Eritreans, mostly Christians, are kept in custody. The subject of migrants in detention, as far as Italy is concerned, was presented by Rev. Msgr. Giorgio Caniato, Inspector General of Prison Chaplains in the country, who stated that there are immigrants in Italian prisons because they have violated the laws of the country and spoke of the active role of the Inspector and the prison Chaplains in Italy for the pastoral care of the migrants in prison.
21. The ‘Festival of the Peoples’ took place after the sessions of the day. It was organized by ‘Migrantes’, a Foundation of the Italian Bishops’ Conference.
22. On Thursday 12th November 2009, the concluding session began with a General assembly and the presentation of the proposed Final Document, with conclusions and suggestions for the future. A lively discussion followed, guided by His Excellency, Archbishop Secretary Agostino Marchetto.
23. During the Congress the sessions were chaired respectively by Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò (President, PCPCMIP), H.E. Cardinal Gabriel Zubier Wako (Archbishop of Khartoum, Sudan), H.E. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri (Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches), H.E. Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Sáenz (Archbishop of Bogotá, Colombia), H.E. Cardinal André Vingt-Trois (Archbishop of Paris) and H.E. Cardinal Ennio Antonelli (President of the Pontifical Council for the Family). The morning sessions were moderated by Archbishop Agostino Marchetto (Secretary, PCPCMIP), and those in the afternoon by Msgr. Novatus Rugambwa (Under-Secretary, PCPCMIP).
24. Fifteen groups met daily, formed in accordance with the languages used in the Congress, thus giving the participants opportunities to share experiences, to offer suggestions that would help the small ad hoc group prepare conclusions and recommendations for the Final Document and to express hopes and indications for future plans of action.
25. The Congress concluded with acknowledgements and a vote of thanks from the President of the PCPCMIP, together with a reflection of the past days and then the prayer of the ‘Angelus’.
Migration, a Phenomenon in the Era of Globalization, a Sign of the Times
1. We find ourselves in an age of unprecedented and very rapid changes. The current high degree of interactions between people and nations, the rapid interchange of ideas, money and trade make this an entirely new era that has brought progress as well as regress, gains as well as losses, new challenges and opportunities, as well as new sufferings. Traditional structures and societal components no longer seem to offer the same securities as before. Wars and violence have continued to reap their victims. Worrying signs of deteriorating climate change, which has begun to displace vast groups of people, will increase and the economic crisis, amongst the many other facets of our globalizing world, has intensified fundamental uncertainty and the awareness of new vulnerabilities and human affliction.
2. Migration is a sign of the times, deeply affecting our societies. Its range and size have increased dramatically and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Its interconnection with the many economic, social, political, religious, cultural and security factors, that define our globalizing world, reinforces the feeling of vulnerability and enhances the questions concerning the traditional models of social cohesion. We seem to be simultaneously searching for improved models of accompaniment for immigrants while redesigning the society into which they are expected to integrate. In such a world marked by new signs of fear and lack of hospitality, the centrality of the human person and his dignity, with its corresponding rights and duties, acquire greater and increasing importance.
3. Migration, therefore, is also an invitation to imagine a different future, which aims at the development of humankind in its totality, thus including every human being with his/her spiritual and cultural potential and contribution to a more equitable world marked by global solidarity and full respect for human dignity and life. Pope Benedict XVI has defined migration as “a great resource for humanity’s development” and in his opening statement to this Congress, he pointed out once more the importance of the migration macro phenomenon as a call to indicate and emphasize the unity of the human family, as well as the Christian value of welcoming the stranger.
4. Certainly, migration is a phenomenon of all times. It is as much a part of who we are as it is of our past and future. It is fostered by demographic and economic imbalances, poor governance, conflict, lack of freedom, poverty and environmental disasters as well as by true hope and the growing awareness of the presence of new and better prospects in life. Migration is often portrayed as dramatic realities that, very often, could have been prevented. “We are all witnesses of the burden of suffering, the dislocation and the aspirations that accompany the flow of migrants,” wrote Pope Benedict in Caritas in veritate (n˚ 62) and yet it is obvious that societal responses are often inadequate since the world has remained deaf to the cry for a solution to the many needs that are at the roots of the decision to migrate and its inevitable consequences.
5. Migration is a multifaceted challenge: it shows that issues of security and societal fear can easily lead to increased discrimination, xenophobia, racism and even to criminalisation of the migrant, which only aggravate the problem without providing any answer to the real needs of humankind nor offering any valid alternative to change our ailing world. It confronts the 21st century society with trafficking, smuggling, kidnappings, forced labour, stateless people, false marriages, migrant mail-order brides and new forms of human slavery forcing especially women and children into prostitution and even illegal labour.
6. Human suffering becomes clear in so many dramatic situations, e.g. people trying to cross a desert or boat people who die, are thrown overboard, or simply denied rescue and access to the national territory with refoulement, or who, for the luckiest amongst them, arrive in most miserable conditions. Arbitrary detention, at times even torture in detention camps, or simply deportation to their countries of origin is likely their fate. However, these tragedies do not affect only the migrants themselves but also the receiving countries that do not necessarily have the capacity to carry the burden of a growing number of arrivals. More fundamentally, it is clear that a defensive attitude and restrictive immigration policies divide and destroy families, that social unrest among the local population is generated by fear of unemployment due to the presence of migrant workers and that social turmoil among migrants is caused by social injustice. Questions on welfare, social security systems and integration models are left insufficiently dealt with while the degree of integration into the host country’s labour market does not match that of social integration. In clear contradiction with restrictive attitudes, global economies need and promote increased human mobility.
7. While the media today report some improvement in our economies, migrants are still measuring with the full extent of the damage caused by the present crisis which, according to the estimate of the International Labour Office, must have cost some 50 million jobs. Labour supply and the right to work are social pacifiers and help in restoring hope and trust in societies, but the economic crisis has evidenced the extent to which migrants are affected by layoffs and the degree to which this translates into decreasing flows of remittances. Diminishing respect for fundamental principles of international law and migrant labour rights have further affected integration and social cohesion. Furthermore, since many laid-off migrants choose to stay in the host country awaiting better economic times, an increase in irregular stay is likely. Here again, human mobility raises fundamental questions concerning universal brotherhood and solidarity, development and global interdependence: Globalization “makes us neighbours but does not make us brothers” (Caritas in veritate, 19).
8. These and the numerous other facets of the kaleidoscopic image of causes and consequences in migration indicate how much they surpass national response mechanisms. There is a profound need for a universal vision of international relations and for a renewed focus on the human person created to the image of God. Given the many societal changes and the immense challenges generated by human mobility, the Church has no option but to act, seeing its efforts directly related to the proclamation of the Kingdom of God (cf. Erga migrantes caritas Christi, 96-97, 101-103).
9. For the Church, the migration macro phenomenon is a priority pastoral issue. Though some kind of contextualisation will always be needed, the Church can help migrants keep their faith and their culture and at the same time make their host country open up to the culture of the migrants’ country of origin by bringing together migrant and local communities. Solidarity is the first step towards a sharing of religious values between local and migrant communities. This could lead to the evangelization or the revival of the faith of those who have been secularized among them. Migration is also an important ecumenical opportunity.
10. The Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi is a recent major step in the more-than-a-century-old history of the specific pastoral care of migrants, giving new impulse and direction to the development of adequate responses to this global phenomenon. This document introduces a new theological language and is a milestone especially regarding the ‘categorization’ of migrants; it contributes to building a new and greater awareness of the necessity to encourage the pastoral care of migrants at the local, national, international, continental and universal levels. It motivates dialogue and co-responsibility between the Churches of origin, transit and destination. Furthermore, the Instruction contributes to reinforcing national and diocesan pastoral coordination mechanisms and encourages the formation of pastoral agents who have the task to develop and implement specific pastoral services on behalf of migrants. Five years after its publication, we can say that the document has been ‘received’ well, but it still deserves to be given more widespread diffusion in order to be of service, even at the political level, by influencing migration policies. It was felt that the organization of Congresses, such as the present VI World Congress and the two continental Congresses on the pastoral care of migrants and refugees held in Bangkok (6-8 November 2008) and Nairobi (2-5 June 2008), are very helpful. Such efforts need to be multiplied and continued so as to become opportunities for an exchange of best practices.
11. There are also important signs of co-responsibility and communion between the Churches of origin and the host Churches. A continuing relationship between the Churches of origin and of arrival enabled not only a better understanding of the phenomenon but promoted very practical measures such as the sending of chaplains for migrants to carry out the fundamental aspect of this specific pastoral care. Furthermore, this collaboration proved to be useful in achieving greater political weight at the international political arena, producing greater effectiveness and authority. The many bilateral and multilateral efforts linking the local Church of origin with the Churches of transit and destination are perceived to have given a large contribution in generating a new mentality, strengthening coordination, establishing concrete forms of cooperation and creating various ad hoc Commissions. It is obvious that such collaboration has a different impact in cases wherein the migrant is present only for a limited period of time, as in temporary and circular migration. This model seems to be preferred by the receiving countries but deserves to be put in question. As these forms of migration forge dual societal identities, one in the homeland and another in the host country, without ensuring continuity between or in any one of these, collaboration among the diocesan structures in all countries involved is even more necessary.
12. Furthermore, in many instances, the Church has repeatedly taken up an advocacy role in the defence of human rights and dignity. It has enhanced its commitment on behalf of vulnerable migrants, especially women and minors. It has acted as a mediator in situations of conflict and as a promoter of true development. It has also expressed anxiety about the situation in some detention camps where living conditions are a humanitarian concern and respect for the fundamental human rights of the detained needs to be reaffirmed.
13. Through its many specialized solidarity structures and charity organizations, the Church has developed concrete operational actions to respond to the many needs, wounds and vulnerabilities of those who have left their family behind and/or have arrived in precarious situations. Care centres for vulnerable migrants, especially women and children, victims of trafficking and unaccompanied minors, were opened. Family care and trauma counselling (healing of memories) were provided and child protection programs developed. Assistance was given to asylum seekers, refugees and internally displaced persons while durable solutions were sought. Cross border events were organised, centres to promote community awareness among newcomers were established and interregional contacts instituted. Church efforts largely contributed to the promotion of integration (not assimilation) measures and provided correct guidance in citizenship/naturalization programs. Even small ecclesial communities proved to be of value in this integration process. The role and commitment of a number of religious congregations, as well as of various ecclesial movements, lay groups and associations, in assisting and working with and for migrants and refugees need to be stressed.
14. Migrants are not only objects of concern but need to be given the chance to become the protagonists of their future (cf. EMCC, 100). They are to be gradually integrated into the local Church of arrival which would thus acquire new force as migrants take on specific responsibilities. Migrants may indeed be priests, or they could take the function of lay lectors, catechists or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. When migrants are scattered in the countries of arrival, it is difficult to reach out to them, but in places where migrant density is high, ongoing Christian action integrates the newcomers thereby expanding the existing social structure. As migrants are encouraged to take part in social missions, their host Church should give proof of its openness to other cultures and traditions. Their gradual integration is to be facilitated by pastors coming from their countries of origin to minister to them. If this is not possible for lack of priests, EMCC provides for the presence of pastoral agents that speak their language and/or know their culture. Former missionaries to the migrants’ countries of origin, who are natives of the host country and have returned to their homelands, could be precious resources in this regard.
15. Special attention is given to young migrants and refugees whose existential questions are often quite serious, as they formulate their identity in terms of matters related to the meaning of life, social justice, the safeguard of creation and relationship with God. It is not uncommon to find young people who are sincerely looking for a religious significance of their lives. This emphasizes the crucial role of the Church in accompanying them as they search for meaning and form their values. Their presence is a privileged opportunity to set up cultural exchanges that could open the prospect of working towards the achievement of tolerance and peaceful cohabitation in tomorrow’s society. They often live a situation that presents a strong risk of dual marginalization because they simultaneously experience a growing distance from their parents’ culture and an insufficiently bridged gap between them and the host society. Catholic Youth Organizations provide young migrants with a sense of belonging and offer formation that helps them remain faithful to their religious patrimony. In various countries specific programs have been initiated to bring Catholic communities closer to young migrants, to modify their perception of the Church as too distant, locked up in its positions and inattentive to cultural diversity. These also offer them, when necessary, a safe environment to enable them to stay away from delinquent activities, trafficking, drugs, armed violence, or sects that very often offer false responses to their existential needs.
16. Children left behind in the country of origin pay a heavy toll for the slightly improved material conditions provided by their parents who work abroad. Their vision of tomorrow’s society may already be forged by the materialistic concept of migrating to earn more. Therefore, separated and transnational families, whose unity is very often more virtual than real, likely jeopardize the education of children and tomorrow’s society. The absence of the parents in the child’s educational process is a form of “care drain” that needs to be carefully and fully addressed.
17. Migrants belonging to Catholic Oriental Churches may find their way to the dioceses of arrival but they need to maintain their links with the Church of their rite. Some dioceses have developed a close collaboration with these Churches. Efforts are made to secure contact with their eparchies of origin to safeguard their spirituality, religious values and liturgy. In some cases pilgrimages to the countries of origin are organized to reconnect the migrants with their traditions, patrimony and heritage.
To foster the pastoral care of migrants and refugees in the Catholic Church
1. That Church structures be strengthened and developed through increased collaboration and networking between bishops of host, transit and countries of origin, e.g. through migrant-focused inter-diocesan meetings, organized encounters. It is important to valorise the significant contribution and expertise offered by institutes of consecrated life, societies of apostolic life, ecclesial movements, Church-related groups, associations and agencies operating in this field, and make the most of their commitment.
2. That specific courses offering a better knowledge and understanding of the migration macro phenomenon and its pastoral implications be included in the formation of priests, religious men and women and members of ecclesial movements and lay associations and groups. These should include the study of the Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi and of the Catholic Social Doctrine. A better articulation of the theology of migration, which highlights the Church’s universality and its characteristic as pilgrim and migrant, needs to be developed. It is also important to give specific formation to priests and pastoral agents who attend to the needs of migrants under particular circumstances.
3. That pastoral agents and cultural mediators be given appropriate formation and chaplaincies revitalized to better support migrant communities and help them preserve their culture and religious values in view of their integration.
4. That special attention be given to migrants and refugees belonging to Catholic Oriental Churches who, while they take into account the rights and duties of the diocese of arrival, wish and have the right to maintain their links with the Church of their rite.
5. That long-term strategies, going beyond the immediate responses of welcome and solidarity, be continuously developed so as to put the valuable potential of catholicity into concrete models.
6. That National Episcopal Commissions for the pastoral care of migrants and refugees be created or, at least, a Bishop Promoter appointed.
B. In relation to young migrants
7. That the Church open its arms to all migrants, whatever may be their age, creed or conviction. In transforming the Church into a meeting point especially for young migrants, the negative effect of secularisation can be defeated thus contributing to transforming migration into an opportunity for evangelization, in full respect of everyone’s choice. This calls for a clear vision, specific pastoral guidelines, dedication and brotherly love to reach out to young migrants.
8. That the Church set up new structures that respond to the specific needs and consider the points of interest of young migrants and refugees, and in particular those of unaccompanied minors who deserve particular care. This can be done e.g., by promoting and developing faith-inspired social movements for the integration of young migrants and by promoting social pastoral actions including educational initiatives.
9. Local Churches are encouraged to incorporate in their pastoral programmes the faith and value formation of children who have at least one foreign parent, while Churches of origin are encouraged to develop programmes to respond to the needs of the migrants’ families or children who have been left behind in their homeland.
C. In relation to community life and various forms of collaboration
10. That Dioceses seek to undertake concrete actions in order to reduce the growing mutual mistrust between the migrants and refugees and their receiving communities. Indeed the Church can encourage all of them to live together peacefully and develop a culture of reciprocity in the world. In this context, Catholic migrant and refugee associations are not to be seen only in terms of their identity and protection levels, but even more as promoters of the active participation of migrants and refugees in the life of the society, together with the members of the local communities.
11. That local Churches promote collaboration between Catholic migrant and refugee associations and all various actors in local society, both religious and civil, to facilitate integration through the creation of meeting spaces, campaigns for the eradication of discrimination, xenophobia and racism, and concrete services of socio-cultural integration. Religious congregations, ecclesial movements and lay associations and groups are excellent resources to be taken into consideration for this purpose.
12. That collaboration be developed between the specific pastoral care for migrants and the pastoral care for those among them who are deprived of their freedom (in prisons or in detention camps). This should be done not neglecting contacts, when appropriate, with the embassies of the countries of origin of the detained. Prison and detention camp chaplains could network with advocacy personnel and missionaries who have returned, in order to have a greater possibility to respond to the spiritual and legal needs of those who are detained, as well as to requests for family contacts. The chaplains could also become contact persons for the families left behind through the services of the Episcopal Commission for Migrants and Refugees in the country of origin.
D. In relation to other Churches and ecclesial communities
13. Catholic and all Christian migrants are a significant missionary force for the Church. They are therefore urged to be steadfast in their faith and maintain their connection with the local Church, wherever they may be, to be able to effectively carry out their missionary role in their host countries. In fact, the Christian faith was “sown” in the world, and in all times, largely through migrants.
14. That ecumenical networking in the field of migration be promoted as it can be an important contribution to peace and reconciliation, when diversity is not considered a reason for exclusion, but an opportunity for enrichment and growth. In the long term, ecumenism could be an appropriate context for cooperation between Catholics and representatives of other Churches and ecclesial communities in advocacy efforts, which need to be continued and encouraged in all countries and communities.
E. In relation to governments, civil society and local authorities
15. That the Church develop and increase its cooperation with governments, civil society and local authorities in catering to migrants’ needs and advocating for their dignity and rights. It is believed that the local Church should work more closely with local and national government policymakers in the service of migrants and refugees, be they from the different Christian traditions or from other religions. However, the Church needs to maintain its autonomy in its pastoral efforts and any agreements with civil institutions should not undermine its obligations affecting the nature of the Church.
16. That, in accompanying migrants, refugees, forced migrants and internally displaced people, the Church assume a mediating and advocating role between them and the local authorities, also by providing them access to legal, medical and other forms of support, combating trafficking and exploitation, protecting the most vulnerable, insisting upon a rights-based approach and actively promoting family reunification. Bishops should also intensify their commitment by speaking out against violations of migrants’ human rights and advocating for a positive attitude towards migrants and refugees in their dioceses, also by encouraging that unused buildings be made available to serve their temporary basic shelter needs. Because of its extremely capillary-like structure, the Church could establish communication networks for information-gathering purposes, protection issues and activities that could be highly beneficial to local and migrant communities.
17. That the efforts of the Church also include international dialogue to discuss and review border enforcement policies, arbitrary detention and citizenship. It should furthermore determine strategies and contribute to an international and comprehensive immigration reform that should be equitably implemented. It should also promote and defend the concept of a specific migrant status, which implies rights and obligations, be it of a temporary character or aiming at a long-term integration. It should therefore make best use of its international structures and commissions that already interact with intergovernmental bodies.
18. That focus be given to safe and voluntary return migration and that returnees be reintegrated into their country of origin, paying attention that their acquired competence is recognized and not wasted, but rendered fruitful in local development processes.
19. It is also called to mind that in 2010, the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families will be celebrated. It could be an ideal moment for Bishops Conferences to encourage its ratification on the part of those countries who have not yet done so. The status of asylum seekers should also be a constant concern of the Church and its agencies.
20. That, at the global level, the Church further promote the concept of a “world political authority” that will deal with migration issues and therefore effectively contribute to ongoing processes in this regard (cf. Caritas in veritate, 67).
F. To promote Church action in the field of migration
That the visibility of Church action related to migration be increased by:
- Making better use of mass media and modern means of communication;
- Counteracting negative media coverage through education programs designed to highlight the positive societal contribution of migrants, including their wealth-generating competence as well-qualified manpower, both in their host country and in their country of origin on their return;
- Promoting the Catholic World Day of Migrants and Refugees, as encouraged by the Holy Father, and make it a single global celebration and event manifesting the Church’s concern for migrants, refugees and internally displaced people;
- Implementing the Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi through:
- Promoting international campaigns to publicly combat discrimination, xenophobia and racism;
- Promoting intercultural encounters and projects that counteract racial and cultural fears, as well as suspicion and mistrust;
- Rendering migrants advocates of their own cultural identity and rights, as they give concrete signs of respect for the laws, culture and tradition of the host country.