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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move - N° 84, December 2000


Greetings to the Bishops of the USA 
at their Annual General Meeting in Washington D.C[1].


Archbishop Stephen Fumio HAMAO
President of the Pontifical Council


         Dear brothers in Christ, 

         First of all, I would like to extend my deep gratitude to Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Bishops’ Conference, for his invitation to me to come here and meet you. I am very pleased to be able to greet here Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, Apostolic Nuncio to U.S.A., and to see again Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Camden, Chairman of the Committee on Migration of N.C.C.B, and Father Anthony E. McGuire, Director of the Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees. I am also happy to be here with some long-time friends and collaborators of our Pontifical Council: Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Cardinal Adam Maida, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, and Bishop John Cummins.

         Since 1998 I have been working in Rome as a President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. We are promoting, with local Churches of the world, the pastoral care of migrants, refugees, seafarers, international airport workers, nomads, foreign students, tourists and pilgrims. We are twenty-two persons from thirteen different countries organized in eight sections.

         On the 1st and 2nd of June this year, we celebrated the Jubilee for People on the Move of the world. We were about 30,000 gathered together in Saint Peter’s Square to concelebrate Mass with our Holy Father, who in his homily repeated several times: “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality” (Heb13:1-2). Then he continued:

         I make my own the words of my venerable predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, who, in his homily at the close of the Second Vatican Council, said: “For the Catholic Church, no one is a stranger, no one is excluded, no one is distant.” …. Unfortunately we still encounter in the world a closed-minded attitude and even one of rejection, due to unjustified fears and concern for one’s own interests alone. These forms of discrimination are incompatible with belonging to Christ and to the Church. …. It was in the multiethnic, multicultural and multireligious context of the Mediterranean that the first Christians began to recognize one another and to live as brothers and sisters since they were children of God. Today it is not only the Mediterranean but the whole world which is open to the complex dynamics of a universal brotherhood. Your presence here in Rome, dear brothers and sisters, stresses how important it is that this phenomenon of human growth should be constantly enlightened by Christ and by his Gospel of hope.

         I feel now even more that the coming twenty-first century will be a very complex time in history, and this will be undoubtedly a tremendous challenge for the Catholic Church in the world. 

         On this occasion, I would like to wholeheartedly thank the US Bishops for their close relation with our Pontifical Council. The communications we receive, the visits you make, the welcome that my colleagues and myself receive here in the U.S., and the ways we try to work together are all encouraging signs that the Catholic Church in this country is deeply committed to being a leaven in the complex world of human mobility.

         I wish to also thank you for your support, through the Migration and Refugee Service and the Migration Committee, of an organization that is very close to our Pontifical Council. I refer to the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC). The ICMC will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary on Ellis Island (New York) on September 15th of 2001, a recognition of New York City as the capital of the world of the history of migration. There they hope to mark ICMC’s contribution to the uprooted and at the same time highlight the historical care and concern for the uprooted by the Universal Church and the Church in the United States. President Prodi of the European Commission will even be the guest speaker. I hope that the ICMC will arrive at a degree of financial independence in future through its drive for an endowment fund for its normal operations. It is worthwhile supporting as perhaps the only organization effectively owned and operated by a collective of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences. 

         Thank you once again for your invitation and hospitality. May the Holy Spirit guide us in a continued fruitful collaboration in the coming millennium.

[1]15 November , 2000