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Thursday, February 23, 2017
Vatican calls for 'love of Christ towards migrants'
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¬†On Friday, Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, presented a new council document "Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi ("The Love of Christ towards Migrants"). The Council's secretary, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto and under-secretary, Fr Michael Blume, SVD, also attended the press conference. Cardinal Hamao said the phenomenon of human mobility had been, at the centre of attention of the Holy See since the last century. He said that after World War II, the need for assistance to migrants and refugees called for "an authoritative intervention of the Holy See." Pope Pius XII's Apostolic Constitution 'Exsul Familia,' in 1952, which the cardinal called "the magisterial magna carta on migrations, was, he said, the first official Holy See document which faced in a overall and systematic way, from the pastoral and canonical points of view, the problem of spiritual assistance to migrants. Cardinal Hamao said that offices to assist migrants were formed on national levels, often within episcopal conferences, but it was not until 1970 that there was an office with the Roman Curia when Pope Paul VI created the Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrations and Tourism. In 1989, under John Paul II, that office became the Pontifical Council of Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. The cardinal listed the numerous categories of peoples that fall within the concern of the pontifical council: economic migrants, refugees, tourists and pilgrims, seafarers, gypsies, circus and amusement park workers, aviation people, and students studying outside of their native country. He noted that "the Church has also undertaken a dialogue with Islam, Muslim migrants and with other religious denominations. The Church does not therefore look only at herself but at the entire world." Archbishop Marchetto pointed out that "contemporary migrations constitute the most vast movement of persons of all times. In these last decades this phenomenon, which now involves more than 200 million people, constitutes a complex, social, cultural, political, economic, religious and pastoral reality." The council secretary indicated that "the document, after rapidly glancing at some of the traits peculiar to today's migratory phenomenon (globalization; demographic transitions underway in countries becoming industrialized; the sharp increase of inequality between the North and South of the world; the proliferation of conflicts and civil wars), underscores the great difficulties that migration generally causes in families and individuals, especially women and children." Archbishop Marchetto said: "fifty years ago images of refugees and exiled and deported persons due to wars ≠ such as in the Balkans or Africa ≠ had not yet entered into our homes, nor had images of sea vessels overloaded with clandestine Albanians, Kurds or Africans. Television had not yet shown us the faces of thousands of human beings ≠ bewildered, exhausted and starving ≠ in search of work, security, and a future for themselves and their families. We had not yet seen the scenes of death, the terrorized faces of our brothers and sisters, their devastated bodies, the desolation of their villages destroyed by violence, hatred and vendettas." The Church, he stressed, even then, was there to guarantee first aid, food, and lodging. "The Church is always there, close to the old and the new migrants." Fr Blume said: "the spirit that permeates the instruction is one of dialogue." Speaking about dialogue within the Catholic Church, he recalled that the document is addressed "especially to Catholics, pastors and the faithful, members of the community as well as migrants. Pastoral experience teaches us that when migrants feel understood and at ease, they integrate more easily into the community and they contribute to it." In addition, he added, "it is necessary that in countries that embrace migrants there be pastoral structures that promote their identity. All of this requires dialogue, especially among Churches in the countries of origin and those in the destination countries and with the Congregation for Eastern Churches." Fr Blume went on to speak about dialogue with other Churches and ecclesial communities, saying this "strengthens unity, where it is possible, and charity and promotes greater reciprocal understanding. Like all authentic dialogue, this type of dialogue is based on adhering to the Catholic identity and should be aware of existing problems among Christians who are unfortunately still separate. Therefore, avoid 'easy irenicism', or the other extreme 'proselytism'." Referring to dialogue with other religions, the council undersecretary emphasized that "it must be based on our identity and provoke reciprocal respect and the discovery of the human and religious values of the other." Source: VIS
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