Cardinal Looks at Role of Providence in Migration

Says Phenomenon Helps Make Church's Face Visible

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 28, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The phenomenon of migration contributes to making the true face of the universal Church visible, says a Vatican official.



Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, affirmed this in a message sent to the 2008 National Migration Conference, sponsored by the U.S. bishops, and under way in Washington, D.C. The theme of the conference is "Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice."

The cardinal began his message affirming the importance of underscoring the positive aspects of migration, "especially in the perspective of the pastoral care of the Church."

Referring to "Erga Migrantes Caritas Cristi," a 2004 instruction from that pastoral council, the prelate said the document views the migration phenomenon under a new light.

"The passage from monocultural to multicultural societies can be a sign of the living presence of God in history and in the community of mankind, for it offers a providential opportunity for the fulfillment of God's plan for a universal communion," the cardinal cited.

He added: "Moving the focus from the phenomenon itself to the people going through migration, it must be recognized that 'migrants, too, can be the hidden providential builders of such a universal fraternity together with many other brothers and sisters. They offer the Church the opportunity to realize more concretely its identity as communion and its missionary vocation.'

"Therefore, broadening even more the scope of this vision, it continues: 'Today's migrations may be considered a call, albeit a mysterious one, to the Kingdom of God, already present in his Church, which is its beginning, and an instrument of Providence to further the unity of the human family and peace.'"

The pontifical council instruction, Cardinal Martino affirmed, "demonstrates that 'the migration phenomenon, by bringing together persons of different nationalities, ethnic origins, and religions into contact, contributes to making the true face of the Church visible and brings out the value of migrations from the point of view of ecumenism and missionary work and dialogue.'"

Christian reaction

The Vatican official's message went on to consider the Church's call to Christians in the face of the migration phenomenon.

"A simplistic vision of the difficulties must give way to a global vision of all the human experiences that enter into the confrontation, the dialogue, the enrichment, and the interchange between different peoples," he said. "The development of an approach that be intercultural, ecumenical, and interreligious is absolutely necessary, it demands the converging of a great number of responsibilities and offers new opportunities."

The cardinal added that it is "expedient also to develop a political action explicit and comprehensive, that does not turn the immigrant into the scapegoat for other social crucial issues, nor a threat to security and stability."

Again citing "Erga Migrantes Caritas Cristi," he said, "The precarious situation of so many foreigners, which should arouse everyone's solidarity, instead brings about fear in many, who feel that immigrants are a burden, regard them with suspicion and even consider them a danger and a threat. This often provokes manifestations of intolerance, xenophobia and racism."

"The basis for the action of the Church, instead, is the affirmation that all persons are equal, well beyond the differences deriving from origin, language and culture, in the belief of the unity of the human family," the cardinal affirmed. "The approach of the Catholic Church, therefore, affirms the central role and sacred character of the human being independently from his or her regular or irregular legal status, most of all in cases of defenselessness and marginalization, taking also into due account the family. Not only, the Church is more and more convinced that making the most of the ethical-religious dimension of migration is the surest way to reach also other goals of high human and cultural value."

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On the Net:

Erga Migrantes Caritas Cristi: www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/migrants/documents/rc_pc_migrants_doc_20040514_erga-migrantes-caritas-christi_en.html