To accompany people who were forced to move and are now far from home is highly demanding. It demands that we remain sensitive and alert to their situation. Migration is from every time. The causes are different and can be socio-economic, conflicts or persecution and human rights violations. It results in voluntary and forced migration. The result is that people move from their homes and end up elsewhere. It also leads to individual suffering.
Migrants, refugees and trafficked people are persons like you and me, human beings, ordinary people. Persons whose names are known by their loved ones. Whose faces are familiar to those in their neighbourhood. Persons with dreams and expectations, fears and disappointments. There is one difference … their circumstances are different. They have had to flee their homes because of persecution, mere survival or trying to make a living for themselves and their family.
The starting point for ministering to migrants, refugees, trafficked persons is to understand their situation and all its components, personal, social, economic, political in the light of God’s Word and to recognize its call to commitment, to get involved. Naturally it also has to address those factors that cause their uprootedness. In this commitment the Church is guided by the “permanent principles” of its “social doctrine that constitute the very heart of Catholic social teaching. These are the principles of the dignity of the human person which is the foundation of all the other principles and content of the Church’s social doctrine, for example the principles of the common good, subsidiarity and solidarity.
We are invited to witness His Message, a message of hope for people, body and soul, the Good News in all situations and for the whole range of life. This also means a willingness to restructure our efforts each time anew to answer adequately the new challenges. As Pope John Paul remarked: “One can never say too often that “pastoral policies will have to be revised, so that each particular Church can offer the faithful more personalized religious care, strengthen the structures of communion and mission”.
Pastoral care of migrants means welcome, respect, protection, promotion and genuine love of every person in his or her religious and cultural expressions.
Taken from an address to the US Bishops Conference by Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò, President of the Pontifical Council for Migrants.