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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move 

N° 94,  April 2004, pp. 5-14



May 30, 2003

The Church also wants, to welcome the many immigrants who come to Japan in search of work, dignity and hope. With all people of good will, she is determined to combat the phenomena of discrimination and exclusion, which alienate the weakest and impair relations between men and women. By her commitment, she wants to encourage all the members of the Japanese nation to question themselves about the meaning of life and human destiny. She invites each one to build responsibly a fraternal and equitable society which expresses its values in the first place through the establishment of a system of penal justice increasingly in conformity with human dignity Â…

With affection, I invite Catholics to be enthusiastic artisans of peace and charity, strongly united around their pastors, working for a more and more fruitful encounter between the faith and Japanese culture.

LÂ’Osservatore Romano(English Edition) N. 25 (1798), 18 June 2003

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June 2, 2003

“Of course, the many issues and difficulties raised by this crisis must be dealt with in a fair and effective manner. Questions concerning Palestinian refugees and Israeli settlements, for example, or the problem of setting territorial boundaries and defining the status of the most sacred places of the City of Jerusalem need to be the subject of open dialogue and sincere negotiation. By no means should a decision be made unilaterally … Nor should real or apparent failures lead partners in dialogue and negotiation to be discouraged”.

Pope John Paul pointed out that the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel was reached ten years ago, which lead to the establishment of full diplomatic relation. “I am pleased” He added “that an accord also appears close at hand regarding related fiscal and economic matters”. He expressed “the fervent hope that this climate of cooperation and friendship will allow us to deal effectively with other difficulties that the Catholic faithful in the Holy Land face on a daily basic. Many of these problems, such as access to Christian shrines and holy sites, the isolation and suffering of Christian communities, the dwindling of the Christian population due to emigration, are in some way connected to the current conflict but should not discourage us from seeking possible remedies now, from working now to meet these challenges.” 

LÂ’Osservatore Romano(English Edition) N. 24 (1797), 11 June 2003, p. 4

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1. To serve the Gospel of hope: this is the Church's mission also in Europe. The Church carries out this mission, accompanying the proclamation of hope with concrete charitable initiatives. Throughout the centuries, this has been the case: the duty of evangelization is sustained by effective human promotion. Putting herself at the service of charity, the Church has nourished and is nourishing the culture of solidarity, cooperating to give life once again to the universal values of human coexistence (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europa, n. 84). 

2. Today too, it is necessary to "give renewed hope to the poor", so that in welcoming and serving them, it is Christ himself who welcomes and serves (cf. Mt 25: 40). Many challenges in this regard confront European believers. Today, there are many categories of persons who are poor:  among them, the unemployed, the sick, isolated or abandoned elderly persons, the homeless, marginalized youth, immigrants and refugees

A service of love also means to re-propose faithfully the truth about matrimony and the family, to educate young people, engaged couples and families themselves to live and spread the "Gospel of life", fighting against the "culture of death". Only with everyone's contribution will it be possible to build a "city worthy of man" in Europe and in the world, and a more just and stable international order. 

May Mary, Mother of hope, and St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, co-patroness of Europe whom we commemorated yesterday, help the Church on the European Continent to be a witness of that active charity that "represents the happy synthesis of an authentic service of the Gospel of hope" (ibid., n. 104). 

LÂ’Osservatore Romano(English Edition) N. 33/34 (1806), 13/20 August 2003

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31 October 2003

3. Europe, born from the encounter of different cultures with the Christian message, today is experiencing a rebirth in its bosom because of immigration and the presence of various cultural and religious traditions. Experiences of fruitful collaboration are plentiful, and the actual efforts for an intercultural and interreligious dialogue provide glimpses of a unity in diversity that bodes well for the future.

LÂ’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition) N.46 (1818), 12 November 2003, p. 5

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18 Décember 2003

Permettez-moi de saluer le travail incomparable quÂ’accomplissent les personnes consacrées, en France et dans les pays les plus pauvres de la planète – particulièrement en Afrique, continent vers lequel votre région est naturellement tournée comme vous venez de le rappeler -, dans le domaine de la solidarité avec les exclus, avec les enfants illettrés, avec les jeunes de la rue, avec les personnes qui connaissent lÂ’expérience dramatique de la précarité ou de la pauvreté, avec les malades du sida ou atteints par dÂ’autres pandémies, ou encore avec les immigres et les personnes déplacées. Je nÂ’oublie pas non plus toutes les personnes consacrées qui travaillent dans le cadre dÂ’un service social, du monde de la santé et de lÂ’éducation, sur le territoire national et ailleurs dans le monde.

LÂ’Osservatore Romano(Hebdomadaire en langue française) N.51 (2808), 23 décembre 2003

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7. Christ is the primordial icon of the Father and the manifestation of his merciful presence among men and women. The Bishop, who acts in the person and in the name of Christ himself, becomes in the Church entrusted to him a living sign of the Lord Jesus, Shepherd and Spouse, Teacher and High Priest of the Church. Here we find the source of pastoral ministry, and the reason why, as the homily outline in the Roman Pontifical suggests, the three functions of teaching, sanctifying and governing the People of God are to be carried out in imitation of the Good Shepherd: with charity, knowledge of the flock, concern for all, mercy towards the poor, the stranger and those in need, and a willingness to seek out the lost sheep and to bring them back to the one sheepfold.

The Bishop's pastoral care of migrants

72. The movement of peoples has assumed unprecedented proportions in our day and takes the form of mass movements involving an enormous number of persons. Many of them have fled their countries or been forced to leave them as a result of armed conflicts, unstable economic conditions, political, ethnic and social conflicts, and natural disasters. Despite their differences, all these migrations pose serious questions to our communities about pastoral issues such as evangelization and interreligious dialogue.

Dioceses should make suitable provision for the establishment of pastoral structures capable of receiving these persons and providing them with appropriate pastoral care adapted to their different situations. There is also a need for greater cooperation between neighboring Dioceses in offering efficient and competent services and in training priests and lay workers who are particularly generous and open to this demanding work, above all when it involves legal problems associated with enabling these persons to fit into a new social structure.

In this context, the Synod Fathers from the Eastern Catholic Churches once again raised the issue, in some ways new and fraught with serious practical consequences, of the emigration of members of their communities. It is now a fact that a significant number of the faithful of the Eastern Catholic Churches reside habitually and stably outside their countries of origin and the Sees of the Eastern Hierarchies. Understandably, this is an issue which presents daily challenges to the pastoral responsibility of the latter.

The Synod of Bishops consequently called for a deeper study of the ways in which the Catholic Churches of both East and West can establish suitable pastoral structures to meet the needs of members of the faithful living in a state of ''diaspora''. In any case, it remains the duty of the local Bishops, their differing rites notwithstanding, to act as true fathers to these faithful of the Eastern Rite, and to ensure that they are given pastoral care which respects the specific religious and cultural values which they received at birth and in their earliest Christian formation.

These are only some of the situations which present an especially urgent challenge to Christian witness and to the ministry of Bishops. Accepting responsibility for the world, its problems, its challenges and its hopes is part of our commitment to proclaiming the Gospel of hope. What is at stake is always the future of man, as a ''being of hope''.

It is understandable that all these new challenges to hope can lead to a temptation to scepticism and loss of confidence. But Christians are capable of facing even the most troubling situations, for the basis of their hope is found in the mystery of the Lord's Cross and Resurrection. This alone is the source from which they draw the strength to take heart and persevere in the service of God, who wills the salvation and integral liberation of all humanity.

LÂ’Osservatore Romano(English Edition), N. 43 (1815), 22 October 2003

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7. Le Christ est l'icône originale du Père et la manifestation de sa présence miséricordieuse au milieu des hommes. L'Évêque, agissant en la personne et au nom du Christ lui-même, devient, dans l'Église qui lui est confiée, signe vivant du Seigneur Jésus, Pasteur et Époux, Maître et Pontife de l'Église. Nous avons ici la source du ministère pastoral: comme le suggère le schéma d'homélie proposé par le Pontifical romain, les trois fonctions d'enseigner, de sanctifier et de gouverner le peuple de Dieu doivent être exercées selon les caractéristiques propres au Bon Pasteur: charité, connaissance du troupeau, sollicitude pour tous, action miséricordieuse envers les pauvres, les gens de passage et les personnes démunies, recherche des brebis perdues en vue de les conduire dans l'unique bergerie.

La sollicitude pastorale de l'Évêque envers les migrants

72. Les mouvements des peuples ont atteint aujourd'hui des proportions inédites et se présentent comme des mouvements de masse, qui concernent un nombre énorme de personnes. Parmi celles-ci, nombreuses sont celles qui se sont éloignées de leur pays ou qui l'ont fui à cause de conflits armés, de conditions économiques précaires, d'affrontements politiques, ethniques et sociaux, de catastrophes naturelles. Toutes ces migrations, malgré leur diversité, posent de sérieuses questions à nos communautés, en ce qui concerne les problèmes pastoraux tels que l'évangélisation et le dialogue interreligieux.

Il est donc opportun que dans les Diocèses on s'attache à instituer des structures pastorales adéquates pour assurer l'accueil et le soin pastoral appropriés de ces personnes, en fonction des différentes conditions dans lesquelles elles se trouvent. Il convient aussi de favoriser la collaboration entre Diocèses limitrophes, afin de garantir un service plus efficace et plus compétent, qui englobe aussi la formation de prêtres et d'agents laïcs particulièrement généreux et disponibles pour ce service important, surtout au regard des problèmes de nature légale qui peuvent surgir pour l'insertion de ces personnes dans le nouvel ordre social.

Dans ce contexte, les Pères synodaux provenant des Églises orientales catholiques ont posé à nouveau la question, nouvelle sous certains de ses aspects et en raison de ses graves conséquences dans la vie concrète, de l'émigration des fidèles de leurs Communautés. En effet, il arrive qu'un nombre assez considérable de fidèles provenant des Églises orientales catholiques résident désormais de manière habituelle et stable hors des territoires d'origine et des sièges des Hiérarchies orientales. Il s'agit, on le comprend, d'une situation qui pèse chaque jour sur la responsabilité des Pasteurs.

C'est pourquoi le Synode des Évêques a lui-même retenu nécessaire de mener un examen plus approfondi sur les moyens grâce auxquels les Églises catholiques, qu'elles soient orientales ou occidentales, peuvent établir des structures pastorales utiles et adaptées qui soient en mesure de répondre aux exigences de ces fidèles qui vivent en « diaspora ». De toute façon, c'est un devoir pour les Évêques du lieu, même s'ils sont de rite différent, d'être pour ces fidèles de rite oriental de vrais pères, leur garantissant, par la pastorale, la sauvegarde de leurs valeurs religieuses et culturelles propres, dans lesquelles ils sont nés et ont reçu leur formation chrétienne initiale. 

Tels sont quelques-uns seulement des domaines dans lesquels le témoignage chrétien et le ministère épiscopal sont concernés d'une manière particulièrement urgente. Assumer ses responsabilités par rapport au monde, à ses problèmes, à ses défis et à ses attentes fait partie de l'engagement d'annoncer l'Évangile de l'espérance. Ce qui est en jeu, en effet, c'est toujours l'avenir de l'homme, en tant qu'« être d'espérance ».

Alors que s'accumulent les défis que l'espérance doit affronter, il est bien compréhensible que surgisse la tentation du scepticisme et du manque de confiance. Mais le chrétien sait qu'il peut affronter les situations les plus difficiles, car le fondement de son espérance réside dans le mystère de la Croix et de la Résurrection du Seigneur. C'est là seulement qu'il est possible de puiser la force de se mettre et de demeurer au service de Dieu, qui veut le salut et la libération intégrale de l'homme.

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7. Cristo es el icono original del Padre y la manifestación de su presencia misericordiosa entre los hombres. El Obispo, actuando en persona y en nombre de Cristo mismo, se convierte, para la Iglesia a él confiada, en signo vivo del Señor Jesús, Pastor y Esposo, Maestro y Pontífice de la Iglesia. En eso está la fuente del ministerio pastoral, por lo cual, como sugiere el esquema de homilía propuesto por el Pontifical Romano, ha de ejercer la tres funciones de enseñar, santificar y gobernar al Pueblo de Dios con los rasgos propios del Buen Pastor: caridad, conocimiento de la grey, solicitud por todos, misericordia para con los pobres, peregrinos e indigentes, ir en busca de las ovejas extraviadas y devolverlas al único redil.

Atención pastoral del Obispo a los emigrantes

72. Los movimientos de población han adquirido hoy proporciones inéditas y se presentan como movimientos de masa que afectan a un gran número de personas. Muchas de ellas han sido desalojadas o huyen del propio país a causa de conflictos armados, precarias condiciones económicas, catástrofes naturales o enfrentamientos políticos, étnicos y sociales. Aunque las situaciones sean diversas, todas estas migraciones plantean serios interrogativos a nuestras comunidades por lo que se refiere a problemas pastorales, como la evangelización y el diálogo interreligioso.

Por tanto, es oportuno que se procure instituir estructuras pastorales adecuadas para la acogida y la atención pastoral apropiada de estas personas en las diócesis, según las diversas condiciones en que se encuentran. Hace falta favorecer también la colaboración entre diócesis limítrofes, para garantizar un servicio más eficaz y competente, preocupándose incluso de formar sacerdotes y agentes laicos particularmente generosos y disponibles para este laborioso servicio, sobre todo en lo que refiere a los problemas de naturaleza legal que pueden surgir en la inserción de estas personas en el nuevo ambiente social.

En este contexto, los Padres sinodales procedentes de las Iglesias católicas orientales replantearon el problema de la emigración de los fieles de sus Comunidades, nuevo en algunos aspectos y con graves consecuencias para la vida concreta. En efecto, un relevante número de fieles procedentes de las Iglesias católicas orientales residen habitual y establemente fuera de las tierras de origen y de las sedes de las Jerarquías orientales. Como es comprensible, se trata de una situación que interpela cotidianamente la responsabilidad de los Pastores.

Por eso, el Sínodo de los Obispos creyó necesario también estudiar más profundamente la manera en que las Iglesias católicas, tanto Orientales como Occidentales, puedan establecer estructuras pastorales adecuadas y oportunas capaces de dar cauce a las exigencias de estos fieles en condición de «  diáspora  ». En todo caso, es siempre un deber para los Obispos del lugar, aunque de rito diverso, ser verdaderos padres para estos fieles de rito oriental, garantizando en su atención pastoral la salvaguardia de los valores religiosos y culturales específicos en que han nacido y recibido su formación cristiana inicial.

Estos son algunos campos en que el testimonio cristiano y el ministerio episcopal están implicados con especial urgencia. Asumir responsabilidades ante el mundo, sus problemas, sus desafíos y sus esperanzas, forma parte del compromiso de anunciar el Evangelio de la esperanza. En efecto, siempre está en juego el futuro del hombre en cuanto «  ser de esperanza  ».

Es comprensible que, ante la acumulación de retos a los que la esperanza está expuesta, surja la tentación del escepticismo y la desconfianza. Pero el cristiano sabe que puede afrontar incluso las situaciones más difíciles, porque el fundamento de su esperanza es el misterio de la cruz y la resurrección del Señor. Solamente en Él puede encontrar fuerzas para ponerse y permanecer al servicio de Dios, que quiere la salvación y la liberación integral del hombre.

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27 February 2003

Many economic, social and political problems and challenges have yet to be faced. I am thinking in the first place of the unsolved problems of refugees and exiles from the Banja Luka region, from Bosanska Posavina and from other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are waiting to be repatriated in full security to lead a dignified life. These brothers and sisters of ours cannot be left on their own, nor can their hopes be disappointed. The more time passes, the more urgent becomes the duty to respond to their legitimate expectations: their suffering calls for our solidarity.

Possible situations of injustice and marginalization should be dealt with and resolved, guaranteeing each People of Bosnia and Herzegovina its respective rights and duties, assuring them equal opportunities in every social circle through democratic structures that can counter the temptation to take advantage of one another. This demands a constant and sincere commitment to democracy and to its harmonious development, in the knowledge that democracy is promoted only through the constant work of education and requires adherence to a common patrimony of ethical and moral values and constant attention to the legitimate needs and aspirations of individuals, families and social groups. Democracy must be built day by day with patient tenacity, using tools and methods that are always worthy and respectful of a civilized society.

I encourage Bosnia and Herzegovina to take the path of peace and justice without hesitation. I would also like to recall that in order to guarantee the rights of individuals an groups, effective equality of all before the law and a concrete respect of neighbour are indispensable. In this regard, it is appropriate to create the conditions for sincere forgiveness and authentic reconciliation, putting aside hatred and resentment and all memory of past injustices and artificially-created prejudices. This great task demands the effective collaboration and serious commitment of all the members of society, including political leaders. The Church, conscious of her mission in the world, has already achieved much in this respect, and will continue to collaborate with total availability.

The existing differences cannot, of course, be disregarded; on the contrary, it is necessary to respect them and keep them duly in mind, ensuring that they do not become the pretext for disputes, or worse, for conflict, but are considered a common enrichment. Those with responsibility at various levels are called seriously to seek to resolve the problems that beset the local populations, by proposing solutions that are advantageous for all, putting the human being, his dignity and his legitimate needs at the center of attention. This is the challenge of a multiethnic, multireligious and multicultural society precisely such as that of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

LÂ’Osservatore Romano(English Edition) N. 11 (1835), 17 March 2004, p. 4

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4.Alla Croce invito a guardare tutti voi, carissimi Fratelli e Sorelle, riuniti questa sera insieme per la Santa Eucaristia. Siate comunità parrocchiali aperte ed accoglienti. Tra di voi risiedono numerosi fedeli latinoamericani e polacchi. Questi nostri fratelli e sorelle si sentano amati come Cristo ha amato e servito ogni uomo e ogni donna fino al sacrificio di sé. EÂ’ questa la concreta testimonianza della fede che tocca il cuore anche dei cosiddetti lontani.

LÂ’Osservatore Romano N. 68 (43.604), 22-23 marzo 2004, p. 10

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SOBRE LOS SANTUARIOS (a la “Plenaria” de la Congregación del Clero)

 Â“El segundo tema que habéis afrontado en esta plenaria concierne a la pastoral de los santuarios. Estos lugares sagrados atraen a numerosos fieles que buscan a Dios y que, por tanto, están disponibles a un anuncio más profundo de la buena nueva y abiertos a acoger la invitación a la conversión.

Por eso, es importante que actúen allí sacerdotes con notable sensibilidad pastoral, animados de celo apostólico, dotados de espíritu paterno de acogida y expertos en el arte de la predicación y de la catequesis. ¿Y qué decir del sacramento de la penitencia? El confesor, especialmente en los santuarios, está llamado a reflejar en cada gesto y en cada palabra el amor misericordioso de Cristo. Por tanto, se requiere una adecuada formación doctrinal y pastoral.

En el centro de toda peregrinación están las celebraciones litúrgicas y, en primer lugar, la santa misa. Es necesario que se preparen siempre con esmero y estén impregnadas de gran devoción, suscitando la participación activa de los fieles”.

LÂ’Osservatore Romano (Edición Española) N. 3 (1.829),16 de enero de 2004, p. 3