On Ministry For Those Who Live or Work on the Street

Archbishop Marchetto Opens 1st European Meeting

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 29, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of an introductory address from Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, for the first European Meeting for the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street. The meeting began today and ends Friday.

 

* * *

I would like to begin my presentation with an image, a story from Holy Scripture. It is an account  taken from the Acts of the Apostles, the description of a journey on a road. It is about two men encountering each other but ultimately it is a story of  transformation and redemption.  It is the story of ‘the Deacon' Philip meeting the Ethiopian eunuch on the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza (cf. Acts 8:26-40).  Scripture does not tell us the name of this officer of the court of Queen Candace, other than he was of some importance and had been on pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  He is clearly a believer, he could have been of the number of the believers "of the door", yet he is reading the passage from Isaiah concerning the Suffering Servant.  Philip, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, sets out on the same road and it is here that they encounter one another, in a meeting, a journey together, one that leads to Philip opening the eyes of the Eunuch, accepting him, transforming him and through a recognition of faith, leading him to baptism. We are told that they never saw one another again, rather that the eunuch continued on the road, "on his way".

At the heart of our encounter here over the next days, those words ‘transformation and redemption', in all their richness and many faceted understandings, should stand before us. We come here to listen and share stories of our experiences and encounters on the roads and in the streets.  For nearly all of you, these stories will come from a deep pastoral experience, from a deep love of the poor and oppressed, the marginalized and the unloved.  These are also stories of encounters that have been led and inspired by the action of the Holy Spirit.  Some indeed will have brought about change and renewal for those concerned - pastoral agents included, whilst others may just be experiences of chance or failed meetings, ones in which you have continued ‘on your way'.  

Guiding us on this journey together, in addition to your own experience, will be two valuable documents published by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant people.  The first is our Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi (2004), and the second, which deals directly with the subject in question are our Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street (2007).  This latter document brings together four distinct areas of concern for those who live and work on and in the roads and streets: road users - especially those who are drivers, both commercial and domestic; the pastoral ministry for the liberation of street women - prostitutes and sex ‘workers'; the pastoral care of street children and lastly the pastoral care of the homeless.  The programme of our meeting over these next days has been tailored to reflect to these different aspects of pastoral engagement. Also of assistance will be  the deliberations from each of the series of First International Meetings that have taken place in Rome over the past few years: street children (2004), women of the street (2005) and the homeless (2007) and the Final Document of Our First Latin American Meeting for the Pastoral care of the Road/Street held in Bogotá, Colombia, in October of last year.

Human mobility is one of the great  "signs of the times", presenting itself to us in many shapes and forms   The ability to travel vast distances in a short space of time, the ability to move freely and often in relative safety, the ability to choose when and how we travel are all characteristics of the vast revolution that has taken place over the past one hundred and fifty years.  Our Guidelines remind us that when used rightly,

"Transportation unites peoples, facilitates dialogue and gives rise to socialisation and personal enrichment via new discoveries and encounters."[1]

and

"road and rail transport are a good thing, as well as being indispensable requirements of contemporary life. If we make good use of means of transport, accepting them as gifts granted to us by God, which are also fruits of the work of his industrious hands and intelligence, we may take advantage of them for our own human and Christian development."[2]

Yet, the Guidelines also offer us a word of caution, that is

"The transportation of goods and people is developing at an ever increasing pace, sometimes taking place under difficult conditions and even putting life at risk. Our lives are conditioned by the car, as mobility has become an idol, which the car symbolises."[3]

This caution echoes very much a wider understanding that is found in Gaudium et Spes:

"Never has the human race enjoyed such an abundance of wealth, resources and economic power, and yet a huge proportion of the world's citizens are still tormented by hunger and poverty, while countless numbers suffer from total illiteracy. Never before has man had so keen an understanding of freedom, yet at the same time, new forms of social and psychological slavery make their appearance."[4]

Ever since society became more mobile, the paths that men and women have trodden have had special meaning. They take us to and from work and school. They take us to visit friends and relatives as the means or place of encounter. They can symbolize rites of passage - birth of a child, an intimate relationship, a marriage, and even death. They are routes taken also by both migrants and refugees. There is almost always a road associated with every place we go and every important event in our lives. And along the way there are those for whom this association is more than just a journey, they are those for whom the street is simply "home".  

The nineteenth century American poet and essayist, Walt Whitman in his ‘Song of the Open Road', said this:

"You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here, I believe that much unseen is also here".[5]

Here the poet acknowledges something that is very true today, that there is much that is obvious and seen upon our roads and in our streets, indeed there is much that is good and beautiful, yet at the same time there is much that is unseen, or that is prevented from being seen.  There are people, homes, lives that are hidden from view because often they are too painful and too ‘ugly' for our society to see and acknowledge. Sometimes they lie hidden because of fear, or because of mental anguish. Also, it could be said, there are many who are ‘seen' yet they are ignored or simply ‘passed by'.   The road thus becomes both a  place of mobility and also immobility, of work and pleasure, of beauty and ugliness, life and death.

The Holy Scriptures speak again and again of roads and of streets, often making them symbolic of the human pilgrimage to God.  Indeed Jesus Christ himself not only takes ‘the road to Jerusalem' and eventually to his passion and resurrection, but also describes himself as ‘The Way' (John 14:6).  More importantly, Jesus meets people on the way, on the side of the road, in crowds and when he is alone. He meets those who are outcasts, marginalized, sick and dying.  He meets the young and the old, rich and poor, the sinner and the pious.  The road is thus the place of encounter and transformation.  It is the place of proclamation and evangelization, of healing and witness.  In many ways it could be said that the road, the street, was both his home and pulpit. 

For those who work in the service of the gospel, those who are priests, brothers, sisters and pastoral agents, the road therefore has special significance, for it too continues to be a place of both proclamation and witness and transformation and healing.  It is the place where Christ may still be encountered, where his words and life may given, through gestures and actions, where the Church may through its various apostolates channel the Grace of God.

I would like now to turn to the four themes that will characterize our deliberations over these next days.

The pastoral care of the road/street

In 2008, 43,000 people died in road traffic accidents in the European Union.  Some 1.7 million people were injured, some of them very severely.  The economic damages were estimated at 200 billion euros, which corresponds to 2% of the European Union's Gross National Product.  Over three quarters of the fatalities continue to be male often depriving families of the major income earner.  The scale of these accidents is further highlighted when they are compared to the equivalent of over 300 fatal air crashes involving medium-range aircraft. According to the statistics, one out of three people in Europe will be injured in a traffic accident at some point in their lives. Up to the age of 55, traffic accidents are the most common causes of hospitalization. 

Clearly these figures are unacceptable and illustrate the need to take constructive action. Already there are positive initiatives of the State underway throughout the Continent, among the most important is the European Road Safety Action Programme and the European Road Safety Charter aided by the Road Safety Observatory, coordinating all Community activities in the fields of road accident and injury data collection and analysis. The Action Programme was launched by the European Commission in 2003 from a Transport White paper of 2001, through its Directorate-General for Energy and Transport, with the ambitious goal of halving the number of deaths on European roads by 2010. Out of this initiative grew the  European Road Safety Charter which has become the largest existing road safety platform, encompassing all 27 EU member States. It sees itself more than simply a policy document but an invitation to make a difference through clear and firm actions, particularly in the field of heightening awareness as to the problems and issues associated with bringing about safer roads.  At its heart is an understanding of "shared responsibility" in tackling the major issues by integrating enterprises, public authorities and civil society along with companies, automobile clubs, associations, schools, the media and local authorities all of whom have been invited to enter into specific  commitments in favour of multiple aspects promoting greater road safety.  Moreover,

"Due to its natural and thousand-year-old vocation to guide travelling humanity, the Church has a great impact on shaping people's awareness and a great capacity for dialogue with the various sectors of society.  Therefore, in the world of the road it finds a suitable space for carrying out its Teaching in favour of life and for the prevention of situations that cause the death of hundreds of thousands of people every year, and for developing a genuine "road ethics".[6]

Our Guidelines, in continuity with this vocation and a long tradition of Magisterial teaching and guiding on the problem of road safety, has approached the crisis from several different standpoints, looking at the moral and ethical issues, raising awareness of the importance of the virtues and in offering its own Drivers "Ten Commandments".  The Guidelines also remind us that the Church needs to work with the State "each in their own area of responsibility"[7]

 to "raise overall public awareness regarding road safety and promote corresponding and appropriate education of drivers, as well as other travellers and pedestrians"[8]

. Above all what is required is an understanding and knowledge of the situation and a will to actually do something about it.  Therefore both education and collaboration are at the heart of any ecclesial response.  For, "All this means calling attention to and encouraging what might be called ‘road ethics', which is not different from ethics in general, but its application."[9]

  Again at Bogotá the Final Document reminds us that:

"Christians should receive guidance, and actions regarding the main factors relating to road deaths and injuries - as well as their prevention - have to be promoted.  This may be done via the social communications media, amongst others, without neglecting catechesis, schools and meetings of Christians."[10] 

Lastly, we must not forget those who daily use modes of transport, often for long hours or even days as a means of employment.  This is an enormous industry represented by the fact that 44% of goods in Europe are transported by road with the number of lorries in operation by 2010 set to increase by 50% compared to the 1988 level.  Together with lorry drivers should be included workers on public transport - both road and rail.  Many of these are cut off not only from their families and homes but also from the ordinary pastoral concern of parish life and need their own  specific pastoral solicitude and sacramental care. "Others can fall prone to both excessive use of alcohol and/or drugs.  There can often be the inability to live a normal human life due to lack of coordination in diverse linguistic and cultural surroundings.  There is also the issue of safety concerning this area, when there is an inability to understand regional or national traffic laws or read the signs on the road.  Unfortunately some drivers, in order to make considerably more money, fall temptation to smuggling both in drugs and/or in human persons.  Some of the recent cases have been much documented in the press."[11]

  The needs that this group raise are manifold and demands an ecclesial response which is imaginative, creative and flexible. Already, in many countries, there are already positive initiatives regarding this specific pastoral care, some of which are creative and practical, such as the chapels (fixed or mobile) along the highways, visits to pastoral service facilities, liturgies celebrated in the motorway stops and parking areas for lorries, above all meeting drivers and operators ‘on their own territory'

Women of the street

"She is a human being, in many cases crying for help because selling her body on the street is not what she would choose to do voluntarily. She is torn apart, she is dead psychologically and spiritually."[12]

This striking description immediately draws us into not only the seriousness but also the tragedy of women who are caught on the streets in the web of prostitution.  The rules and regulations governing prostitution throughout Europe are wide and varied and both reflect and shape the way that the ‘women of the street'  themselves are understood and able to carry out their ‘work'.

In Europe, the exact number in the various types of prostitution is unknown.  Many individual countries are continually accessing the situation and enacting new laws, particular with regard to the protection of those who find themselves forced and/or trafficked as the reality of this shadow market becomes increasingly apparent.  For decades the sending countries were those from Asia but now with the collapse of the Soviet Union a pool of millions of women has opened up from whom traffickers can recruit. European prostitution is therefore heavily characterized, especially those who work on the streets, by women from countries from the east of the continent and the former Soviet bloc. Countries such as Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia and Russia have thus become major sending countries for women trafficked into sex industries all over the world, but especially within Europe itself.  This has now been joined with a well coordinated stream of women coming also from the continent of Africa. The trade in women is a highly profitable enterprise, often with little risk that preys on the dreams of women seeking employment and opportunities for the future.  The activities of these networks threaten the well being, status and dignity of women as well as the social, political and economic interests and stability of the countries in which they operate.  It is clearly a new form of slavery in our midst.

Today whilst many women continue to ‘work' in clubs, brothels, escort services and bars, others choose now to operate in a more ‘hidden' way, making contacts through the internet or performing in live web streaming sex shows.  More pertinent to our reflection are those who are considered the most marginal and vulnerable, those who are ‘street walkers' or curb crawlers'.    Even amongst this group there are who are said to view this life style as an ‘easy job' who prefer the term ‘sex worker' to that of prostitute whereas there are those for whom it is a shameful last choice alternative in order to survive.

Out of the many forms of prostitution there is clearly a considerable pastoral concern directed towards two distinct groups of persons who find themselves on the streets. Those who are trafficked for sexual purposes and those who are children and minors.  Sometimes the two are synonymous. These need a particular pastoral approach and indeed, a particular urgency.

Whilst we are dealing essentially with "women of the street", what should also not be forgotten, especially growing within parts of Europe, is that of sex tourism (mainly in Italy, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, Croatia, Spain).  Whereas this can involve consenting adults (both male and female), more often it is characterized by unwilling and forced persons. A deep concern is the growth of paedophilia affecting both boys and girls in this particular area.  Much work has already been done in the European Union through legislation directed at the demand side. It should also not be forgotten that there is also the development of transgender and male prostitution, which too needs its pastoral care.

There is a big task ahead if the Church, and other concerned pastoral bodies are able to tackle this complex and difficult situation. It should be multi-directional aimed at not just the women themselves but also at the issues of supply and demand.  Our First International Meeting in 2005 for the pastoral care for the liberation of women of the street recognised several factors that could guide a way forward. In particular

"When tackling prostitution, a multi-dimensional approach is needed. It must involve both men and women in mutual transformation, and human rights must be at the core of any strategy."[13]

Already much is being done and religious communities, especially those of women are often in the forefront of this mission.  Moreover, this must continue to be a catalyst for further pastoral initiatives, for 

"There is a need for renewed solidarity in the Church and among religious congregations, lay movements, institutions and associations in giving greater "visibility" and attention to the pastoral care of women exploited by  prostitution, without forgetting the good news of full liberation in Jesus Christ."[14] 

In particular, what is needed are not just resources (these are clearly important) but two particular ecclesial approaches.  The first is that of a wider collaboration which should fall into four distinct areas: (a) among public and private agencies; (b) with the mass media to ensure correct communication about this problem; (c) in the demand or the enforcement of laws protecting women  and  for effective measures against the demeaning portrayal of women in advertising and (d) the Christian community should work with national and local authorities.[15]

 Once again our Meeting in Bogota reminded us that:

"Networks have to be created in order to make dealing with prostitution and people trafficking more efficient. It would be a good idea to join ecclesial forces with the relative civil and governmental institutions, each having its own legitimate authority."[16]

The second important issue is education and research at the local level.  Particularly at the forefront should be schools and parishes providing programmes on sexual education, mutual respect and healthy interpersonal relationships in the light of the Church's Teaching.  Formation and professional training programmes for pastoral agents need also to be developed, as do networks  need to be strengthened among all groups involved in the provision of pastoral care.[17]

There is not time here to do justice to this complex situation, other than to encourage you to continue to build upon and to search out new ways to further this important apostolate, for

"the encounter with Jesus Christ, the Good Samaritan and Saviour, is a decisive factor of liberation and redemption, including for the victims of prostitution."[18]

Street children   

Childhood - a phase of life that is meant to be care-free and safe, a time of just freedom, learning and discovery - is for many in parts of Europe an initiation into hardship, shame and suffering. In a study of thirty-one countries conducted by the Council of Europe Study Group on Street Children only three countries (Cyprus, Liechtenstein and San Marino) reported a  total lack of street children.  Precise knowledge as to  the extent of these children is difficult as there are no overall reliable statistics although estimates are available in some countries.  However according to various NGO's there are anything between 150,000 - 250,000 of them thus illustrating that this is not just a problem that concerns developing continents. Clearly the situation is worse and growing in some countries in Eastern Europe though it is not exclusively so.  For example, it is estimated that there are 20,000 street children in Romania yet a Report in 2008 by the children's relief group Terre des Hommes said there were the same amount on the streets in Germany.

What is clear is that there are different definitions as the term ‘street child' has different meanings and connotations in different contexts. Whilst many have hitherto spoken of children ‘of' and ‘in' the streets it is now considered that they can be divided into three distinct groups: (1) Children on the street who regular connection with their family, many of them attending  school though they are on the streets in order to earn money needed for the financial survival of the family or alternatively they flee to the street from the oppressing atmosphere of the home and lack of space; (2) Children of the street who have only occasional connection with their family, only seldom visiting their home as it is for them is a place of fear and misery.  Usually they do not attend school; (3) Children in the street who have no connection with their family (or there is no family). They regard street as their permanent home and search there for safety and livelihood, often living in gangs with other children.  Many of these are addicted to drugs or alcohol and/or caught up in child prostitution.

Street children have been described as victims of "economic violence".[19]

  Whilst the causes that put so many onto the streets are multiple, clearly there is a correlation between economic, political and social factors.   Much good work is already been done on the European scale to tackle to the problem. In the civic field their protection is of direct concern to the Council of Europe, which is clearly committed to the rights and well-being of all children, especially the most vulnerable. One of the best available instruments for the protection of street children, elaborated by the Council of Europe, is the European Social Charter establishing social, legal and economic rights for all children. In 2006 the European Foundation for Street Children Worldwide (EFSCW) obtained a participatory status with the Council of Europe on child protection and now works to  increase awareness and to give more visibility to street children in the official initiatives of the Council of Europe.  Together with NGO's and charitable organizations many important initiatives are being carried out.

The ecclesial response throughout Europe to working with street children is also committed. In our First International Meeting for the Pastoral Care of Street Children, 2004, it was noted thus:

"The more alarming the seriousness of the problem and the more insufficient the effective presence of the public authorities, the more we recognize the action of private social groups and volunteers in this area as precious and praiseworthy."[20] 

 A commitment to street children can be very costly in time and energy, not least financially, as these children usually need a long periods of rehabilitation. It can take many months or years to firstly build up their trust,  especially if they have endured only pain and abuse from adults. There is also the aspect of working , if possible, with the childrens families and those of you already concerned with this apostolate will know already what this entails. I would however like to point you in the direction of three images that arose from the recommendations made at our First International Meeting which are also part of our Guidelines[21]

.  They are apt for us over these next days.

"a) first of all, the icon of Jesus before the adulteress: the Teacher is respectful and affectionate; He does not judge or condemn the person but by his own attitude encourages her to change her life;

b) the second icon, the Good Shepherd who goes in search for the lost sheep (much more so if it is a little lamb), encourages us not to wait for, and much less demand from, the lamb to find its way back to the fold and take the following obligatory steps in a pastoral care for street children:- observe, listen, understand ...; - take the initiative of meeting, - establish a spontaneous relationship... 

c) the third icon, that of the disciples at Emmaus: finally their eyes were opened before the Risen Christ and at the prospect of resurrection after having walked on a way during which not the eyes but the heart is warmed and opens to the newness of the Gospel."[22]

Another aspect to which I would like to draw to your attention, and I believe that this will be a thread running through all our discussions, is to seek out and  build up greater collaborative units to directly tackle this extensive pastoral need.  One again these are part of the recommendations at our First International Meeting: 

"Concerted work must be done not only within the structures where one operates but also with those who are doing the same work in the territory or are in some way interested in it. It is also necessary to look for and welcome the collaboration of other forces that are not ecclesial in nature but are genuinely sensitive, humanly speaking, to the issue. The same goes for collaboration with public offices, even when, by personal choice, it is not possible, or it is not intended, to make use of public funding."[23]

Again at the heart of any response, is meeting, loving, education and reintegration leading to transformation and redemption, for "It is indispensable to bear witness to the light of Christ who illuminates and opens up new ways for people immersed in darkness".[24]

Homeless people

Statistics with reference to homelessness in Europe are collected mainly at the level of homelessness organizations and social services, however the statistics usually only cover those who are houseless or roofless. The lack of exact data as to the extent of homelessness makes an understanding of its nature, causes and the effective action needed to tackle it all the more difficult. There mere fact that homelessness may be either long term, mid or short term makes its extent also difficult to discern.  However it is believed that in Europe that there are around 3 million street dwellers out of 460 million people (a ratio of 1 to 153).  This could be compared to the United States of America where it is thought that there are as many as 3.5 million people experiencing homelessness in a given year (1% of the entire U.S. population or 10% of its poor), and about 842,000 people in any given week. 

Homelessness and housing deficiency are perhaps the most extreme examples of poverty and social exclusion in society today and is prevalent in all European countries without exception. The causes are manifold and include a combination of factors such as lack of inexpensive housing, low paid jobs, alcohol and drug abuse, mental illness, domestic violence and breakdown, unemployment, poverty, prison release and re-entry into society, change and cuts in State welfare assistance. Moreover the prevention of homelessness and the re-housing of homeless people requires a clear understanding of the reasons and development that lead them on to the streets and  greater understanding of the exact meaning of homelessness itself. 

However our Guidelines have tried to define this type of homelessness as thus:

"Poverty has an aspect that is manifested in the people who live and sleep on the street or under bridges. These people represent one of the many faces of poverty in today's world. They include tramps; people forced to live in the street because they have no accommodation; foreign immigrants from poor countries who sometimes, even though they have a job, cannot find a place to live; the elderly without a home; and, finally, people - usually young - who have "chosen" a wandering life, either alone or in groups."[25]

 But homelessness is not just to be without a roof, "it is the collapse of a world, of security, personal relationships and of dignity.  It is the loss of the ability to leave a life ‘truly human'."[26]

  So the pastoral task extends beyond what is basic and practical, because

"Offering a ‘home' is therefore an intrinsic task of every pastoral action. It is not simply a matter of offering a roof but of a place where people can be fully themselves and with dignity. In a word, it is a place where one can build one's home of relations, and develop every dimension of one's existence, including the spiritual one."[27]

As with many of the other conditions to be found ‘on the road', homelessness is rarely a choice. Our First International Meeting on the pastoral care of the homeless made an important and profound conclusion, which I share with you:

"The homeless represent a challenge for the whole society, which is called to a co-responsibility in the promotion of an impassioned approach to the problem. It is  a matter of understanding the situation rather than finding an explanation, which could degenerate into unsuitable categorization.  It is a matter of taking into consideration the person, not as an object for which we intend to intervene in a way that has been previously defined.  This requires a project of intervention, that rather than stigmatizing, has a logic of  true inclusivity.  However, despite this, welcome remains limited, fragile and incapable, so it must be sustained by a deliberate and constant commitment.  Spontaneity, fragmentation and indecision weigh against an integral, lasting and sustainable approach".[28]

A word of concern must go to the present world financial crisis, in which homelessness related to unemployment has become a major concern for governments, some NGO's and ecclesial institutions. Gaining and sustaining employment must be of the highest issue for governments and when ‘worklessness' leads to homelessness policies of State support need to be firmly in place.  The Church needs constantly, in its response to homelessness to advocate on the part of the unemployed and to maintain the right and dignity of each person to work. Supporting individuals and families during a period of crisis and encouraging retraining when necessary, is of the essence.

Once again at the heart of a pastoral response to such a exceptional need, there is the call to closer links and collaboration 

"In order to be able to offer better service to homeless people, collaboration among ecclesial institutions must be fostered, ending the tendency to work alone sometimes in a spirit of competition.  Appropriate collaboration is also encouraged with civil authorities, other religions, and non-religious based institutions that share the same concerns and goals.  Ecumenical initiatives should be actively pursued."[29]

From the European Political arena is a recent and  important declaration on ending street homelessness adopted by the European Parliament in 2008. The registration of this declaration has now put the subject of homelessness firmly on the agenda in the continent. The declaration called for agreement on an EU-wide commitment to end homelessness by 2015, and called on the European Commission to develop a European framework definition of homelessness and provide annual updates on action taken and progress made in EU Member States towards ending homelessness.  This is an important political initiative and coupled together with the excellent work of FEANTSA, the European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless which was established in 1989, there many positive responses in operation.   The Church needs to pay attention to their work in order to be able to read ‘the signs of the times',  the different patterns of social exclusion and adapt and collaborate in new ways whenever possible and desirable.  Once again let me share with you a pertinent recommendation from our meeting at Bogotá.

"Above all, we should accept Christ's love, know him ever more, and love and serve him through homeless people, by opening up our hearts to the voice of the Holy Spirit who constantly invites the homeless to undertake personal conversion. We have also to revise methods of action in order to achieve a true pastoral conversion in favour of these most needy brothers and sisters."[30]

Conclusion

I am aware that I have only touched some of these vast pastoral issues.  You will know already well the situation here ‘on the ground', in your countries and in the localities in which you minister.  There is already much excellent work being done and many important initiatives being undertaken.  We at the Pontifical Council want to hear about your lives, your work, your successes and if you are able, even your failures.  Modes of collaboration, combined with effective and imaginative responses is for all of us an essential objective. So, what you have to say, and what we will discern here over the next days will be of value, not just to yourselves but to all Christian communities.  All this can weaved into a rich tapestry of pastoral response that enables the Church to be more truly herself, for 

"God thus entrusts the Church, itself a pilgrim on earth, with the task of forging a new creation in Christ Jesus, recapitulating in Him (cf. Eph 1:9-10) all the rich treasures of human diversity that sin has transformed into division and conflict. To the extent that the mysterious presence of this new creation is genuinely witnessed to in its life, the Church is a sign of hope for a world that ardently desires justice, freedom, truth and solidarity, that is peace and harmony."[31]

So recalling once again that encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, one that brought ‘transformation and redemption',  I hope and pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit,  as we are led on the roads and in streets, we will be blessed with the gifts of wisdom and understanding, and that through our efforts - over these days and in the future - our work may yield a rich harvest.

"May the Holy Mother of God, ...the Blessed Virgin of the Way, ‘show us the path of humble daily service'. Guided by her, we set our gaze on Jesus Christ, in renewing our missionary commitment, so that the people of God in the streets may have abundant life in Him."[32]

Thank you! 

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1] Pontifical Council for the Pastoral care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street, § 7: People on the Move, Suppl 104, August 2007, p. 97.

2]Ibid.,  § 9,  p. 97.

3]Ibid.,  § 2,  p. 96.

4] Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, § 4: AAS LVIII (1966), p. 1027: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/ Documents /vat-ii_const_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_sp.html

5] Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1891-92): pp. 120-29. PS 3201, Robarts Library, 1891: http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/2289.html

6] Pontifical Council for the Pastoral care of Migrants and Itinerant People, 1st Latin-American Meeting for the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street, Bogotá, Colombia, 19th-24th October 2008, Final Document - Conclusions, § 9, (yet to be published).

7] Id., Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street, §  64,  p. 112.

8]Ibid.

9]Ibid., § 68, p. 112.

10] Id., 1stLatin-American Meeting for the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street, Bogotá, Colombia, Document - Recommendations, § 2, (yet to be published).

11] Agostino Marchetto, A Pastoral Care in Favour of Lorry Drivers in Europe, A speech given at the meeting of AESCAP, Innsbruck, 2nd March 2009 (yet to be published).

12] Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Proceedings of the First International Meeting on the Pastoral Care for the Liberation of Women of the Street-2005, Final Document - Conclusions, § 4: People on the Move, suppl 102, 2006,  p. 98.

13]Ibid., § 12,  p. 100.

14]Ibid., § 9,  p.  99.

15] Cf. Ibid., § 15,  p. 101.

16] Id., 1°Latin-American Meeting for the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street, Bogotá, Colombia, Document - Recommendations, § 2, (yet to be published).

17] Cf. Id., Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street, § 21-23, pp. 100-101.

18]Ibid., § 113,  p. 124.

19] A.Swift, Victims of Rescue: New Internationalist 1989, 194: pp. 13-15.

20] Pontifical Council For the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, First International Meeting for the Pastoral Care of Street Children, 2004, Final Document - Conclusions, § 6:  People on the Move, suppl. 98, 2005, p. 88.

21] Cf. Id., Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street, § 136, p. 132.

22] Id., First International Meeting for the Pastoral Care of Street Children, 2004, Final Document - Recommendations, § 5, loc.cit., pp. 92-3.

23]Ibid., § 9, p. 94.

24] Id., Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street, § 134,  loc.cit.,  p. 130.

25]Ibid., § 146,  p. 146.

26] Agostino Marchetto, "Lord, when did we see you", First International Meeting for the Pastoral Care of the Homeless, 2007, People on the Move, Suppl. 108, December 2008, p. 41.

27] Pontifical Council for the Pastoral care of Migrants and Itinerant People, First International Meeting for the Pastoral Care of the Homeless, 2007, op. cit., Final Document - Conclusions, § 14, p. 133. 

28]Ibid., § 11.

29]Ibid.,  Recommendations § 9.

30] Id., 1st Latin-American Meeting for the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street, Bogotá, Colombia, Final Document - Recommendations, § 26 (yet to be published).

31] Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People,  Erga migrantes caritas Christi, § 102, Vatican City, 2004, p. 161.

32] Id., 1st Latin-American Meeting for the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street, Bogotá, Colombia, Final Document - Recommendations, § 28 (yet to be published).