Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi

The love of Christ towards Migrants  – excerpts

The love of Christ towards migrants urges us (cf. 2 Co 5:14) to look afresh at their problems, which are to be met with today all over the world. In fact nearly all countries are now faced with the eruption of the migration phenomenon in one aspect or another; it affects their social, economic, political and religious life and is becoming more and more a permanent structural phenomenon.  Thus Christians are called on to:
• give witness to and practice not only the spirit of tolerance – but also respect for the other’s identity.  
• to open a way towards sharing with people of different origins and cultures a “respectful proclamation” of their own faith.
• called to a culture of solidarity so as to achieve together a real communion of persons.
Migration as seen with the eyes of faith :   12. In migrants the Church has always contemplated the image of Christ who said, “I was a stranger and you made me welcome” (Mt 25:35).  Their condition is, therefore, a challenge to the faith and love of believers, who are called on to heal the evils caused by migration and discover the plan God pursues through it …….15.  In the foreigner a Christian sees not simply a neighbour, but the face of Christ Himself, who was born in a manger and fled into Egypt, where he was a foreigner…..“There is no room for distinction between Greek and Jew, between the circumcised and the uncircumcised, or between barbarian and Scythian, slave and free man” (Col 3:11).

36. …….. Tolerance is not enough; needed is a certain feeling for the other, respect as far as possible for the cultural identity of one’s dialogue partners…… Keeping our eyes on the gospel thus means attention to people too, to their dignity and freedom.  Helping them advance integrally requires a commitment to fraternity, solidarity, service and justice.
37. In the vision of the Second Vatican Council …….. the unity of Pentecost does not abolish the various languages and cultures but recognises them in their identities …the universal love at work in them. ……… It will thus be necessary to build up the Church and make it grow in and with the migrants …….

Welcome and solidarity   39. …. it is important that communities do not think that they have completed their duty to migrants simply by performing acts of fraternal assistance ….Christians must in fact promote an authentic culture of welcome capable of accepting the truly human values of the immigrants over and above any difficulties caused by living together with persons who are different. 

41. .. local Churches must rethink pastoral care, programming it to help the faithful live their faith authentically in today’s new multicultural and pluri-religious context.  ..the local population should be made aware of the complex problems of migration and the need to oppose baseless suspicions and offensive prejudices against foreigners.  …In religious instruction and catechesis suitable means must be found to create in the Christian conscience a sense of welcome, especially for the poorest and outcasts as migrants often are..

43. ..assistance or “first welcome” are of the greatest importance (in response to the emergencies that come with migrations … But also important are acts of welcome in its full sense, which aim at the progressive integration and self-sufficiency of the immigrant.  Let us remember in particular the commitment undertaken for family unification, education of children, housing, work, associations, promotion of civil rights and migrants’ various ways of participation in their host society. Religious, social, charitable and cultural associations of Christian inspiration should also make efforts to involve immigrants themselves in their structures.

46. Popular piety, too, deserves particular attention as it is characteristic of many migrant communities.  Besides recognising that “when it is well oriented it is rich in values” – we must also bear in mind that for many migrants it is a fundamental link with their Church of origin and with their ways of understanding and living the faith.  Here it is a question of …….. enabling the local Catholic community to know and appreciate certain forms of devotion of migrants and thus to understand them.  From this union of spirit a more participated liturgy can also develop, one that is better integrated and spiritually richer.

Catholic Migrants: The uprooting that moving abroad inevitably involves should not be made worse by uprooting the migrant from his religious rite or identity too.  50. …… the particular Church where they have arrived should help them overcome the problems caused by uprooting from their community of origin and the serious difficulties of finding their place in their new one.  …….catechism and liturgical formation by religious and lay pastoral workers in close collaboration with chaplains/missionaries will prove to be particularly valuable….

Workers in a Pastoral Care of Communion:  The principal tasks of the pastoral worker among immigrants are
• safeguarding the migrants’ ethnic, cultural, linguistic and ritual identity since effective pastoral activity is unthinkable if it does not respect and value their cultural heritage, which, however, must also be brought into dialogue with the local Church and culture so as to respond to new demands;
• guidance along the way to authentic integration, avoiding a cultural ghetto and at the same time opposing the pure and simple assimilation of migrants into the local culture;
• … sharing the situation and conditions of migrants ….in an atmosphere of a clear witness of life.

The laity   86. In both the Church and society the lay faithful ….. are called to bear Christian witness and to be in the service of migrants too.  In particular we have in mind pastoral assistants and catechists, animators of groups of young people or adults, persons engaged in the world of labour, in social and charitable services.
87.  In the Church itself, one could examine the possibility of instituting a suitable form of non-ordained ministry of welcome with the task of approaching migrants and refugees and introducing them gradually into the civil and the ecclesial community.

 Unity in plurality: the problems  89. In this context each host Church is called upon to integrate the concrete reality of the persons and groups that compose it, bringing the values of each one into communion, as all are called upon to build a Church that is concretely Catholic. “In this way there is brought about a unity in plurality in the local Church, a unity that is not uniformity but harmony, in which every legitimate diversity plays its part in the common and unifying effort.
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