Thursday, March 11, 2010

THE SHRINE: Memory, Presence and Prophecy of the Living God


1. The meaning and aim of the document

“All Christians are invited to become part of the great pilgrimage that Christ, the Church and mankind have made and must continue to make in history. The shrine which is the goal of that pilgrimage is to become ‘the Tent of Meeting’, as the Bible calls the tabernacle of the covenant.”(1) These words invite us to consider the relationship between the notion of pilgrimage(2) and that of the shrine, which is usually the visible goal of the pilgrim’s journey: “The term ‘shrine’ designates a church or other sacred place to which the faithful make pilgrimages for a particular religious reason, with the approval of the local Ordinary.”(3) In shrines, a meeting with the living God can take place through the life-giving experience of the Mystery which is proclaimed, celebrated and lived: “At shrines, the means of salvation are to be provided more abundantly to the faithful; the word of God is to be carefully proclaimed; liturgical life is to be appropriately fostered, especially through the celebration of the Eucharist and penance; and approved forms of popular devotion are to be cultivated.”(4) “Shrines are thus like milestones that guide the journey of the children of God on earth;”(5) they foster the experience of gathering and encounter, and the building up of the ecclesial community.

These characteristics apply in a unique way to the shrines that have sprung up in the Holy Land, in the places sanctified by the presence of the Word Incarnate, and they can be seen particularly in the places consecrated by the martyrdom of the Apostles and all those who bore witness to the faith by shedding their blood. One can also find the entire history of the pilgrim Church reflected in countless shrines, “permanent witnesses of the Good News”,(6) linked to the decisive events of the evangelization or the faith-life of different peoples and communities. Every shrine can be seen as the bearer of a specific message, since it vividly makes present today the foundational event of the past which still speaks to the heart of pilgrims. Marian shrines in particular provide an authentic school of faith based on Mary’s example and motherly intercession. Today too, by their witness to the manifold richness of God’s saving activity, all shrines are an inestimable gift of grace to his Church.

A reflection on the nature and purpose of shrines can thus be an effective aid in receiving and living out the great gift of reconciliation and new life that the Church continually offers to all the disciples of the Redeemer and, through them, to the whole human family. This then is the underlying meaning and aim of the present document; it wishes to consider the flowering of the spiritual life that takes place at shrines, the pastoral activity of those who minister in them, and their effects on the life of the local Churches.

The following reflection is only a modest aid towards a greater appreciation of the service that shrines render to the life of the Church.

2. Listening to God’s revelation

If reflection on shrines is to nourish faith and prove fruitful for pastoral activity, it needs to be rooted in an obedient listening to revelation, which richly presents the message and the power of salvation contained in the “mystery of the Temple”.

In the language of the Bible, and especially of Saint Paul, the term “mystery” refers to God’s plan of salvation unfolding in human history. When we contemplate the “mystery of the Temple” in attentive listening to the Word of God, we can glimpse, beyond the visible events of history, the presence of the divine “glory” (cf. Ps 29:9): the manifestation of the God who is thrice-Holy (cf. Is 6:3), his presence in dialogue with mankind (cf. 1 Kg 8:30-53), his entry into time and space, his planting his “tent” in our midst (cf. Jn 1:14). The outline of a theology of the temple thus emerges, in the light of which we can better understand the significance of the shrine.

This theology is characterized by a growing concentration upon certain focal points: in the first place, the figure of the “cosmic temple”, evoked for example by Psalm 19 with its the image of the “two suns”, the sun of the Torah - or of the revelation explicitly addressed to Israel (vv. 7-14) - and the sun in the heavens which “declare the glory of God” (vv. 1-6) in a revelation that is silent yet universal, effective and directed to all. Within this temple the divine presence is everywhere felt (cf. Ps 139) and a liturgy of ecstatic praise is celebrated, as Psalm 148 makes clear, since together with the creatures of heaven, it mentions a universal “alleluia” intoned by 22 earthly creatures - as many as the letters of the Hebrew alphabet - thus signifying the whole of creation.

Then there is the temple of Jerusalem, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, the holy place par excellence of the Jewish faith and the permanent memorial of the God of history, who established a covenant with His people and remains ever faithful to it. The temple is the visible house of the Eternal One (Ps 11:4), filled by the cloud of His presence (cf. 1 Kg 8:10.13) and the dwelling-place of His “glory” (cf. 1 Kg 8:11).

Finally, there is the new and definitive temple which is the eternal Son, who came in the flesh (cf. Jn 1:14), the Lord Jesus, crucified and risen (cf. Jn 2:19-21), who makes of those who believe in Him a temple built of living stones, which is the pilgrim Church in time: “He is the living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen by God and precious to him; come to him so that you, too, may be living stones making a spiritual house as a holy priesthood to offer the spiritual sacrifices made acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet 2:4-5) By drawing close to the One who is the “living stone”, we construct the spiritual building of the new and perfect covenant. We also prepare for the feast of the Kingdom that is “not yet” fully realized, thanks to our spiritual sacrifices (cf. Rom 12:1-2), which are pleasing to God precisely because they are offered in Christ, through Him and with Him, the Covenant in person. The Church thus appears above all as “the holy temple, visibly represented in the shrines of stone.” (7)

3. The supporting arches

In the light of these scriptural testimonies, we can come to a deeper understanding of the “mystery of the Temple” in three ways, which correspond to the three dimensions of time and which serve as the supporting arches of a theology of the shrine, namely, memory, presence and prophecy of the God who is with us.

In relation to the unique and definitive past of the event of our salvation, the shrine appears as a memory of our origin with the Lord of heaven and earth. In relation to the present of the community of the redeemed, gathered in the time between the first and the final coming of the Lord, the shrine appears as a sign of the divine Presence, the place of the covenant, where the community of the covenant constantly expresses and renews itself. In relation to the future fulfillment of the promise of God, that “not yet” which is the object of our greatest hope, the shrine is set as a prophecy of God’s tomorrow in the today of the present world.

Each of these three dimensions can inspire the outlines of a pastoral plan for shrines, one capable of translating into personal and ecclesial life the symbolic meaning of the temple, where the Christian community assembles, called together by the Bishop and the priests who are his co-workers.


4. Memory of God’s work

A shrine is first of all a place of memory, the memory of God’s powerful activity in history, which is the origin of the People of the Covenant and the faith of each believer.

The Patriarchs had already commemorated their encounters with God by building an altar or a memorial (cf. Gn 12:6-8; 13:18; 33:18-20), to which they would return as a sign of fidelity (cf. Gn 13:4; 46:1), and Jacob considered the place where his vision took place as a “dwelling-place of God” (cf. Gn 28:11-22). In the Biblical tradition, the shrine is not merely the work of human hands, filled with cosmological or anthropological symbolism, but a witness to God’s initiative in revealing himself to human persons and making his covenant of salvation with them. The deepest meaning of every shrine is to serve as a reminder in faith of the salvific work of the Lord.(8)

In a spiritual climate of adoration, invocation and praise, Israel knew that it was her God who freely desired the Temple, not human presumption. An exemplary witness to this is the splendid prayer of Solomon, born precisely of his powerful awareness of the reality of the temptation of idolatry: “Yet will God really live with human beings on earth? Why, the heavens, the highest of the heavens cannot contain you. How much less this temple built by me! Even so, listen favourably to the prayer and entreaty of your servant, Lord, my God; listen to the cry and to the prayer which your servant makes to you today: day and night may your eyes watch over this temple, over this place of which you have said, ‘My name will be there.’ Listen to the prayer which your servant offers in this place.” (1 Kg 8:27-29)

The shrine, then, was not built because Israel wanted to capture the presence of the Eternal, but just the opposite, because the living God, who entered history, who journeyed with his people in the cloud by day and in the fire by night (cf. Ex 13:21), wanted to give a sign of his fidelity and his continual active presence in the midst of His people. Thus the Temple would not be a house built by human hands, but a place that would proclaim the initiative of the One who alone builds the house. This is the simple yet grand truth expressed in the words spoken to the prophet Nathan: “Go and tell my servant David, ‘The Lord says this: Are you to build me a temple for me to live in? ... The Lord furthermore tells you that he will make of you a dynasty. And when your days are over and you fall asleep with your ancestors, I shall appoint your heir, your own son to succeed you and I shall make his sovereignty secure. He will build a temple for my name and I shall make his royal throne secure forever. I shall be a father to him and he a son to me.’” (2 Sam 7:5.11-14)

The shrine thus becomes a sort of living memorial of the origin from on high of the chosen and beloved People of the Covenant. It is a permanent reminder of the fact that God’s people is born not of flesh or blood (cf. Jn 1:13), but that the life of faith is born of the wondrous initiative of God, who entered history to unite us to himself and to change our hearts and our lives. The shrine is the efficacious memorial of God’s work, the visible sign proclaiming to all generations how great is his love and testifying that he first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:19) and wishes to be the Lord and Saviour of His people. As Gregory of Nyssa said in reference to the shrines of the Holy Land, in every shrine one can recognize “traces of the great goodness of the Lord for us”, “the salvific signs of God who gave us life”,(9) “the memories of the mercy of the Lord in our regard”.(10)

5. An initiative “from above”

What the Temple of Jerusalem signified in the Old Testament finds its highest fulfilment in the New Testament, in the mission of the Son of God. He himself becomes the new Temple, the dwelling of the Eternal One among us, the Covenant in person. The episode of the expulsion of the vendors from the temple (cf. Mt 21:12-13) declares that the sacred space, on the one hand, has been extended to all peoples, as we see from a detail of great symbolical value, namely, that the veil of the temple was “torn in two from top to bottom.” (Mk 15:38) On the other hand, the sacred space is concentrated in the person of the One who – victorious over death (cf. 2 Tim 1:10) - comes to be the sacrament of the encounter with God for everyone.

To the religious leaders, Jesus said: “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Citing their reply – “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple: are you going to raise it up again in three days?” – John the Evangelist comments: “But he was speaking of the Temple that was his body, and when Jesus rose from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and what he had said.” (Jn 2:19-22)

In the economy of the new Covenant too, the Temple is the sign of the initiative of God’s love in history: Christ, the one sent by the Father, God made man for us, the eternal high priest (cf. Heb 7), is the new Temple, the awaited and promised Temple, the sanctuary of the new and eternal Covenant (cf. Heb 8). Both in the Old and in the New Testament, therefore, the shrine is a living memorial of the origin, of the initiative by which God loved us first (1 Jn 4:19).Whenever Israel looked at the Temple with the eyes of faith, whenever Christians look in the same way at Christ, the new Temple, and at the shrines that, from the edict of Constantine on, they have built as a sign of the living Christ among us, they recognize in this sign the initiative of the love of the living God for mankind.(11)

The shrine thus testifies that God is greater than our heart, that He has always loved us and has given us His Son and the Holy Spirit because He wants to dwell in us, making us his temple and making our bodies the shrine of the Holy Spirit. As St. Paul says: “Do you not realize that you are a temple of God with the Spirit of God living in you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy that person, because God’s temple is holy; and you are that temple.” (1 Cor 3:16-17; cf. 6:19) “The temple of God is what we are the temple of the living God, as he himself has said: I shall fix my home among them and live among them; I will be their God and they will be my people. (2 Cor 6:16)

The shrine is the place where the love of God, who has planted His tent among us (cf. Jn 1:14), is constantly made present. Therefore, as St. Augustine says, in the holy place “there is no succession of days as if each day were to come and then go. The beginning of one does not mark the end of the other, because there all of them will be present at one and the same time. The life to which those days belong will know no setting.”(12) Thus, in ever new ways, the shrine resounds with the joyful proclamation that “God loved us first and gave us the capacity to love him... He did not love us in order to leave us as ugly as we were, but to transform us and make us beautiful... How shall we be beautiful? By loving Him, who is ever beautiful. In the measure that love grows in you, in the same measure will your beauty grow; for charity is truly the beauty of the soul.”(13) A shrine thus constantly reminds us that new life is not born “from below” by purely human initiative, and that the Church is not simply a product of flesh and blood (cf. Jn 1:13), but rather that the life of the redeemed and the ecclesial communion in which that life finds expression are born “from above” (cf. Jn 3:3), from the gratuitous and amazing initiative of trinitarian love that is prior to all human love (cf. 1 Jn 4:9-10).

6. Awe and adoration

What are the consequences for our Christian life of this first and fundamental message that the shrine transmits, insofar as it is a memory of our origin in the Lord?

We can speak of three fundamental approaches.

In the first place, the shrine reminds us that the Church is born of God’s initiative, an initiative that the piety of the faithful and the public approval of the Church acknowledge in the foundational event at the origin of every shrine. Thus, in everything associated with the shrine and in everything that finds expression in it, we need to discern the presence of the mystery, the activity of God in time, the manifestation of his efficacious presence, hidden under the signs of history. This conviction is further expressed in the shrine through the specific message connected with it, whether in regard to the mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ, in regard to one of the titles of Mary, “who shines forth to the whole community of the elect as a model of the virtues,”(14) or in regard to the individual Saints whose memory proclaims the “wonderful works of Christ in his servants.”(15)

One approaches the mystery with an attitude of awe and adoration, with a sense of wonder before the gift of God; for this reason, one enters a shrine with a spirit of adoration. Anyone who is incapable of experiencing wonder at the work of God, who does not perceive the newness of what God brings about through his loving initiative, will not be capable of perceiving the profound significance and beauty of the mystery of the Temple, which is disclosed in the shrine. The proper respect shown to a holy place expresses the awareness that, in seeing what God has done, we need to respond not with a human logic, which presumes to define everything on the basis of what is seen and produced, but with an attitude of veneration, filled with awe and a sense of mystery.

Surely, an adequate preparation is needed for an encounter with a shrine, so that we can perceive beyond its visible, artistic and folkloric aspects the gracious work of God evoked by various signs, such as apparitions, miracles, the foundational events that represent the real first beginnings of every shrine as a place of faith.

This preparation will take place, first of all, during the stops in the journey that leads the pilgrim to the shrine; such was the case for the pilgrims to Zion who prepared themselves for the great meeting with the Shrine of God by singing the Psalms of Ascent (Pss 120-134), which are a true liturgical catechesis on the conditions, nature and effects of an encounter with the mystery of the Temple.

The topographical arrangement of the shrine and its individual areas, the respectful behaviour that is required of every ordinary visitor, the attentive hearing of the word of God, prayer and the celebration of the sacraments will prove of immense help in enabling people to understand the spiritual significance of their experience there. All these actions together can express the spirit of welcome radiated by the shrine, which is open to everyone and, in particular, to the many people who in the loneliness of a secularized and desacralized world perceive deep in their hearts a yearning for and an attraction to holiness.(16)

7. Thanksgiving

In the second place, a shrine recalls God’s initiative and makes us understand that that initiative, the fruit of a pure gift, must be received in the spirit of thanksgiving.

One enters a shrine above all to give thanks, conscious that God loved us even before we were capable of loving him; to express our praise of the Lord for his marvellous works (cf. Ps 136); to ask his forgiveness for the sins we have committed; and to implore the gift of fidelity in our life as believers and the help needed as we make our earthly pilgrimage.

In this sense, shrines represent an extraordinary school of prayer, where the persevering and trusting attitude of the humble testifies in a special way to their faith in the Lord’s promise: “Ask and it shall be given to you.” (Mt 7:7)(17)

To recognize the shrine as a memory of God’s initiative is thus to learn the art of thanksgiving, to foster in our hearts a spirit of reconciliation, contemplation and peace. A shrine reminds us that joy in life is first of all the effect of the presence of the Holy Spirit who also awakens in us the praise of God. The more we are enabled to praise the Lord and make our life a continuous act of thanksgiving to the Father (cf. Rom 12:1) in union with the one and perfect thanksgiving of Christ the Priest, in particular through the celebration of the Eucharist, the more will we welcome God’s gift within us and allow it to bear fruit.

From this standpoint, the Virgin Mary is “a most excellent model”.(18) In the spirit of thanksgiving, she let herself be overshadowed by the Spirit (cf. Lk 1,35), so that in her the Word of God might be conceived and given to mankind. In gazing upon her, we understand that a shrine is a place where the gift from on high is welcomed, the dwelling in which, even as we give thanks, we allow ourselves to be loved by the Lord, following his example and with his help.

Shrines thus remind us that where there is no gratitude, the gift is lost; where man does not give thanks to the God who each day, even in the hour of trial, loves him ever anew, the gift remains ineffective.

Shrines testify that the vocation of life is not dissipation, frivolity or escape, but praise, peace and joy. A profound understanding of the meaning of a shrine can help us to experience the contemplative dimensions of life, not only inside the shrine itself but everywhere. And since the Sunday Eucharistic celebration is the culmination and source of the whole Christian life, lived as a response of gratitude and self-oblation to the gift from on high, a shrine invites us in a most particular way to rediscover Sunday, “the day of the Lord” and “lord of the days”,(19) the “primordial feast”, “which is meant not only to mark the passage of time, but to reveal its profound meaning”, namely, the glory of God who is all in all.(20)

8. Sharing and commitment

In the third place, as a memory of our origin, the shrine shows that this sense of awe and thanksgiving should never be separated from sharing with others and a commitment to others. The shrine calls to mind the gift of a God who has loved us so much that he pitched his tent among us to bring us salvation, to be our companion in life, one with us in our suffering and in our joy. The founding events of the various shrines also bear witness to this divine solidarity. If God so loved us, so too must we love others (cf. Jn 4,12), so that we may be the temple of God by our lives. A shrine is an impetus to solidarity, impelling us to be “living stones” that support one another in the edifice built on the cornerstone which is Christ (1 Pet 2:4-5).

It would be fruitless to experience the “time of the shrine” if this does not then draw us to the “time of the road”, the “time of the mission”, and the “time of service”, wherever God manifests himself as love for the weakest and poorest creatures.

The words of Jeremiah, echoed in the teaching of Jesus, remind us that a temple, without faith and without a commitment to justice, is reduced to a “den of thieves” (cf. Jer 7:11; Mt 21:13). The shrines mentioned by Amos are meaningless unless the Lord is truly sought in them. Liturgy without a life rooted in justice becomes a farce (cf. Is 1:10-20; Am 5:21-25; Hos 6:6). The words of the prophets call the shrine back to its original inspiration, stripping it of empty “sacralism” and idolatry, and making it a seed which bears the fruit of faith and justice in time and space. Then indeed the shrine, as the memory of our origin in the Lord, becomes a continuous call to the love of God and to the sharing of gifts received. A visit to the shrine will show its effects above all in a commitment to charitable activities, in work for the advancement of human dignity, justice and peace, values to which the faithful will feel themselves called anew.


9. A place of the Covenant

The mystery of the shrine does not only call to mind our origin in the Lord; it also reminds us that once God has loved us, he never ceases to love us. In the specific moment of history in which we find ourselves today, faced with all the contradictions and the sufferings of the present, he is with us. The Old and the New Testaments bear unanimous witness that the Temple is not only a place where the saving past is remembered, but also one where grace is even now experienced. A shrine is a sign of God’s Presence, a place where men’s covenant with the Eternal One and with one another is constantly renewed. In journeying to the shrine, the pious Israelite discovered anew God’s covenant fidelity to each “today” of history(21).

As they gaze upon the Lord, the new temple whose living presence in the Spirit is evoked by every church building, Christ’s followers know that God is always living and present among them and for them. The temple is the holy dwelling of the Ark of the Covenant, the place where the covenant with the living God is constantly renewed and the people of God become aware that they are a community of believers, “a chosen race, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.” (1 Pet 2:9) As Saint Paul reminds us: “you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; you are fellow citizens with the holy people of God and part of God’s household. You are built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets, and Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone. Every structure knit together in him grows into a holy temple in the Lord; and you, too, in him, are being built up into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Eph 2:19-22) By dwelling among his people and in their hearts, God himself makes them a living shrine. A shrine built of “dead stones” evokes the One who makes us a shrine of “living stones”.(22)

A shrine is a place of the Spirit because it is a place where God’s fidelity reaches out and transforms us. People go to a shrine first of all to call upon and to receive the Holy Spirit, in order then to bring this Spirit to all the activities of their lives. In this sense, a shrine appears as a constant reminder of the living presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church, bestowed upon us by the Risen Christ (cf. Jn 20:22) to the glory of the Father. A shrine is a visible invitation to drink from the invisible spring of living water (cf. Jn 4:14); an invitation which can always be experienced anew, in order to live in fidelity to the covenant with the Eternal One in the Church.

10. A place of the Word

The expression “communion of saints”, found in the section of the Creed which describes the work of the Holy Spirit, can be seen as a rich evocation of one aspect of the mystery of the Church on her pilgrimage through history. By filling the members of Christ’s Body, the Holy Spirit makes the Church the living temple of the Lord, as the Second Vatican Council recalled: “The Church has often been called the building of God (cf. 1 Cor 3:9)... This building has many names: the house of God (cf. Tim 3:15) in which his family dwells; the household of God in the Spirit (cf. Eph 2:19-22); the dwelling place of God among men (Rev 21:3); and, especially the holy temple. This temple, symbolized by places of worship built of stone, is praised by the holy Fathers and, not without reason, is compared in the Liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. As living stones we here on earth are being built up along with this City (cf. 1 Pt 2:5).”(23)

In this holy temple of the Church, the Spirit acts especially through the signs of the new covenant that shrines possess and make available. One of these is the Word of God. The shrine is the place of the Word par excellence, in which the Spirit calls us to faith and brings about the “communion of the faithful”. It is extremely important that a shrine be associated with the persistent and receptive hearing of the Word of God, which is no mere human word, but the living God himself present in his Word. The shrine, in which the Word of God resounds, is a place of covenant, where God reminds his people of his faithfulness, in order to shed light on their journey and to offer them consolation and strength.

A shrine can become an excellent place for deepening one’s faith, in a special setting and at a favourable time, apart from the ordinary. It can offer possibilities for a new evangelization, help to foster a popular piety that is “rich in values”,(24) bringing it to a more exact and mature consciousness of faith(25), and it can facilitate the process of inculturation.(26)

Each shrine needs to develop “a suitable catechesis”(27) which, “while it is to take into account the events that are celebrated in the places to be visited and their peculiar nature, should not overlook either the necessary hierarchy in expounding the truths of the faith or its proper place within the liturgical itinerary in which the whole Church participates.”(28)

In this pastoral service of evangelization and catechesis, emphasis should be placed on the specific aspects linked to the memory of each particular shrine, to its own particular message, to the “charism” entrusted to it by the Lord and recognized by the Church, and to the heritage of traditions and customs, frequently very rich, that have taken root there.

In the same context of service to evangelization, cultural and artistic initiatives can be sponsored, such as congresses, seminars, exhibitions, reviews, competitions and gatherings on religious themes. “In the past, our shrines were filled with religious mosaics, paintings, and sculptures, to teach the faith. Shall we have enough spiritual strength and genius to create ‘moving images’, of great quality, and adapted to the culture of today? It is a question not only of the first proclamation of the faith in a world that is often very secularized, or of catechesis to deepen this faith, but it is a question of the inculturation of the Gospel Message at the level of each people, of each cultural tradition.” (29)

To this end, a shrine needs the presence of pastoral workers capable of helping people to enter into dialogue with God and to contemplate the immense mystery that enfolds and attracts us. The significance of the ministry of the priests, religious and communities in charge of shrines must be stressed,(30) and consequently the urgent need for them to receive proper training for the service they are called to provide. At the same time, encouragement should be given to lay people trained to carry out the work of catechesis and evangelization associated with the life of the shrine. In this way shrines too will express the wealth of charisms and ministries that the Holy Spirit awakens in the Lord’s Church and pilgrims will benefit from the varied witness given by the different pastoral workers.

11. A place of sacramental encounter

Shrines, as places in which the Spirit speaks also through the specific message which the Church recognizes as associated with each shrine, are also privileged places for the celebration of the sacraments. This is especially true for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, in which the Word is most powerfully present and at work. The sacraments bring about an encounter of the living with the One who constantly preserves them in life and grants them ever new life in the consoling power of the Holy Spirit. They are not rote rituals, but events of salvation, personal encounters with the living God who in the Spirit goes forth to meet all those who come to him hungering and thirsting for his truth and peace. When a sacrament is celebrated in the shrine, therefore, it is not that something “is done”, but rather that someone is encountered. Indeed, that someone is Christ, who becomes present in the grace of the Spirit in order to give himself to us and to change our life, incorporating us ever more fruitfully into the community of the covenant, the Church.

As a place of encounter with the Lord of life, the shrine as such is a clear sign of the presence of God at work in the midst of his people, for there, through his Word and the sacraments, he gives himself to us. Pilgrims thus approach a shrine as the Temple of the living God, the place of the living covenant with Him, so that the grace of the sacraments may liberate them from sin and grant them the strength to begin again with a new freshness and new joy in their hearts, and thus to become, in the midst of the world, transparent witnesses of the Eternal.

Pilgrims often come to shrines particularly well-disposed to seek the grace of forgiveness; they should be helped to open themselves to the Father “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4),(31) in truth and in freedom, consciously and responsibly, so that their encounter with his grace will give rise to a truly new life. A fitting community penance service could lead to a richer experience of the individual celebration of the sacrament of Reconciliation, which “is the means to satisfy man with the righteousness that comes from the Redeemer himself.”(32) The places where this celebration takes place should be appropriately arranged to foster a spirit of recollection.(33)

Since “pardon, freely granted by God, implies in consequence a real change of life, a gradual elimination of evil within, and a renewal in our way of living,” the pastoral staff of shrines should support the pilgrims’ perseverance in the fruits of the Spirit in every possible way. They should also be especially attentive to make available that expression of the “total gift of the mercy of God” which is the indulgence. Through indulgences, “the repentant sinner receives a remission of the temporal punishment due for the sins already forgiven as regards the fault.”(34) In the profound experience of the “communion of saints” that the pilgrim has in the shrine, it will be easier for him to understand “how much each of us can help others – living or dead – to become ever more intimately united with the Father in heaven.”(35)

As for the celebration of the Eucharist, it should be kept in mind that it is the center and the heart of the whole life of the shrine, an event of grace which “contains the Church’s entire spiritual wealth.”(36) For this reason, it is appropriate that the unity that flows from the sacrament of the Eucharist should be manifested in a special way, by gathering together in one celebration the different groups of visitors. In the same way, the Eucharistic presence of the Lord Jesus should be adored not only by individuals, but also by all pilgrim groups, making use of special pious exercises prepared with great care, as in fact happens in many shrines, based on the conviction that the “Eucharist contains and expresses all the forms of prayer.”(37)

Above all, the celebration of the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist gives shrines a particular dignity: “Shrines should not be considered marginal or less important, but rather essential places, places where people go to obtain Grace, even before they obtain graces.”(38)

12. A place of ecclesial communion

Given new birth by the Word and the sacraments, those who have come to the shrine of “dead stones” become a shrine of “living stones” and are thus capable of having a renewed experience of that communion in faith and holiness that is the Church. In this sense, we can say that a shrine is the place where the Church of people alive in the living God can be reborn. There, each individual can rediscover the gift that the creativity of the Spirit has given to him or her for the benefit of all. In the shrine too, everyone can discern and develop his or her own vocation and become open to living it out in service to others, especially in the parish community, where human differences come together and are articulated in ecclesial communion.(39) For this reason, careful attention should to be paid to the pastoral care of vocations and of the family, itself the “privileged place and shrine where the great and intimate events in the history of each unique human being are lived out.”(40)

Communion with the Holy Spirit, brought about through communion with the sacred realities of the Word and the sacraments, gives birth to the communion of saints, God’s People, made such by the Holy Spirit. In a particular way, the Virgin Mary, “model of the Church in the order of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ”,(41) venerated in so many shrines,(42) helps the faithful to understand and accept the working of the Holy Spirit that brings about the communion of saints in Christ.

The intense experience of the Church’s unity which shrines provide can also help pilgrims to discern and welcome the promptings of the Spirit that lead them in a special way to pray and work for the unity of all Christians.(43) Shrines can be places where ecumenical commitment is strongly promoted, since there the change of heart and holiness of life that are “the soul of the whole ecumenical movement”(44) is fostered and the grace of unity given by the Lord is experienced. In the shrine too, a practical “sharing in spiritual activities and resources” can occur, especially through common prayer and in use of sacred places,(45) which greatly promotes the path of unity when the criteria laid down by Church authorities are fully respected.

This experience of Church must be particularly fostered through the fitting welcome given to pilgrims to the shrine. This should take into consideration the specific characteristics of each group and each individual, the yearnings of their hearts and their authentic spiritual needs.

In the shrine, we learn to open our heart to everyone, in particular to those who are different from us: the guest, the stranger, the immigrant, the refugee, those of other religions, non-believers. In this way the shrine does not only exist as the setting for an experience of Church, but also becomes a gathering-place open to all humanity.

Indeed, it should be realized that on numerous occasions, due to historical and cultural traditions and to greater ease of travel, the Christian faithful are joined in their pilgrimages to shrines both by members of other Churches and ecclesial Communities and by the followers of other religions. A certainty that the plan of salvation embraces them too,(46) a recognition of their oftentimes exemplary fidelity to their own religious convictions,(47) and a common experience of the same historical events open new horizons and show the urgency of ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue. Shrines can enable this to be carried on in the presence of the holy Mystery of God, who welcomes everyone.(48) At the same time, it must be kept in mind that shrines are meeting-places for an encounter with Christ through the Word and the sacraments. Consequently there is need for constant vigilance against all possible forms of syncretism. Shrines are likewise meant to be a sign of contradiction with regard to pseudo-spiritualistic movements, such as the New Age movement. Rather than a generic religious sentiment based exclusively on the heightened use of natural human faculties, shrines strongly insist on the primacy of God and the need to be open to his saving work in Christ for true human fulfilment.


13. A sign of hope

The shrine, as a memory of our origin in the Lord and a sign of the divine presence, is also a prophecy of our ultimate and definitive homeland: the Kingdom of God, which will come about when, according to his promise: “I shall set my shrine in their midst forever.” (Ez 37:26)

As a sign, the shrine does not only remind us whence we come and who we are, but also opens our eyes to discern where we are going, the goal of our pilgrimage in life and history. The shrine, a work of human hands, points beyond itself to the heavenly Jerusalem, our Mother, the city coming down from God, all adorned as a bride (cf. Rev 21:2), the perfect eschatological shrine where the glorious divine presence is directly and personally experienced: “I could not see any temple in the city, for the Lord Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple.” (Rev 21:22) In that city and temple there will be no more tears, no more sadness, or suffering, or death (cf. Rev 21:4).

The shrine thus appears as a prophetic sign of hope, an appeal to a broader horizon which discloses the promise that does not disappoint. Amid life’s difficulties, the shrine, an edifice of stone, points to the homeland glimpsed from afar but not yet attained, anticipation of which, in faith and hope, sustains Christ’s disciples on their pilgrim way. It is significant that after the great trials of the Exile, the Chosen People felt the need to express a sign of their hope by rebuilding the Temple, the shrine of adoration and praise. Israel made every possible sacrifice to restore this sign to her eyes and heart, not only because it would remind her of the love of God who chose her and lived in her midst, but also because it would evoke a yearning for the ultimate goal of the promise towards which God’s pilgrims travel in every age. The eschatological event on which the faith of Christians is founded is the rebuilding of the temple which is the body of the Crucified One, brought about by his glorious resurrection, the pledge of our hope (cf. 1 Cor 15:12-28).

A living icon of this hope is first and foremost the presence in shrines of the sick and the suffering.(49) Meditation on God’s saving work helps them understand that through their sufferings they are sharing in a privileged way in the healing power of the redemption accomplished by Christ(50) and proclaiming before the world the victory of the Risen One. Together with them, all those who accompany and assist them with active charity are witnesses of the hope of the Kingdom inaugurated by the Lord Jesus, starting precisely with the poor and the suffering: “Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” (Lk 7:22)

14. An invitation to joy

The hope that does not disappoint (cf. Rm 5:5) fills our hearts with joy (cf. ibid., 15:13). In shrines, the People of God learns to be the “Church of joy”. All who have entered the mystery of the shrine know that God is already at work in our human world which even now, despite the darkness of the present time, is the dawn of the time to come, that the Kingdom of God is even now present among us and so our hearts can already be full of joy, trust and hope, in spite of the pain, death, tears and blood that cover the face of the earth.

Psalm 122, one of the Psalms sung by the pilgrims journeying towards the Temple, says: “I rejoiced that they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ ” This witness echoes the sentiments of all those who go to shrines, and above all the joy of meeting their brothers and sisters (cf. Ps 133:1).

In shrines, we celebrate the “joy of forgiveness” that impels us to “celebrate and rejoice” (Lk 15:32), since “there is rejoicing among the angels of God over even a single repentant sinner” (Lk 15:10). There, gathered around the one table of the Word and the Eucharist, we experience the “joy of communion” with Christ that Zaccheus experienced when he welcomed the Lord into his home “with joy” (Lk 19:6). This indeed is the “perfect joy” (Jn 15:11) that no one can ever take away (cf. Jn 16:23), treasured in a faithful heart which has itself become a living temple of the Eternal One, a shrine of flesh for the worship of God in spirit and truth. Together with the Psalmist, each pilgrim is invited to say: “I shall go to the altar of God, to the God of my joy. I will rejoice and praise you on the harp, O God, my God.” (Ps 43:4)

15. A call to conversion and renewal

As a sign, the shrine gives witness that we are not made to live and die, but to live and triumph over death through the victory of Christ. As a consequence, the community celebrating its God in the shrine remembers that it is a pilgrim Church journeying towards the Promised Land in a state of constant conversion and renewal. The shrine at hand is not the last step of the journey. Tasting the love of God there, the faithful realize that they have not reached their final destination. Instead they sense a more powerful yearning for the heavenly Jerusalem, the desire for heaven. Thus, shrines make us acknowledge both the holiness of those to whom they are dedicated and our condition as sinners who need to begin anew each day the pilgrimage towards God’s grace. They make us realize that the Church “is at once holy and ever in need of being purified,”(51) since its members are sinners.

The Word of God helps us to keep this tension alive, especially in the prophetic criticism of shrines which have become places of empty ritual: “Who has asked you to trample through my courts? Bring no more futile cereal offerings, the smoke from them fills me with disgust. New moons, Sabbaths, assemblies – I cannot endure solemnity combined with guilt... Cease doing evil. Learn to do good, search for justice, discipline the violent, be just to the orphan, plead for the widow. (Is 1:12-17) Sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken, contrite heart (cf. Ps 51:17). As Jesus affirmed: It is not anyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Mt 7:21)

The need for continuous conversion is inseparable from the proclamation of the goal to which theological hope is directed. Every time the community of the faithful gathers together in the shrine, it does so to remind itself of that other shrine, the future city, the dwelling of God, which we wish to begin building already in this world and which we cannot help but desire, filled with hope, conscious of our limitations, striving to prepare as best we can the coming of the Kingdom. The mystery of the shrine thus reminds the pilgrim Church on earth of her contingency, of the fact that she is directed to a greater goal, the future homeland, that fills the heart with hope and peace. This stimulus to constant conversion in hope, this witness of the primacy of God’s Kingdom, of which the Church is the beginning and the first-fruits, must be particularly encouraged in the pastoral care which is provided in the shrine, for the growth of the community and of individual believers.

16. Symbol of the new heavens and the new earth

The shrine takes on a prophetic significance, because it is a sign of that greater hope that points to the final and definitive destination, where each individual will be fully human, respected and fulfilled according to the righteousness of God. For this reason, the shrine becomes a constant call to critique the myopia of all human projects that would impose themselves as absolutes. It can therefore be considered a protest against every worldly presumption, against every political dictatorship, against every ideology that claims to say everything there is to be said about man, since it reminds us that there is another dimension, the Kingdom of God, that is yet to come in its fullness. In the shrine, the Magnificat is constantly echoed. There the Church “sees uprooted that sin which is found at the early history of man and woman, the sin of disbelief and of ‘little faith’ in God;” there, “Mary boldly proclaims the undimmed truth about God: the holy and almighty God, who from the beginning is the source of all gifts, he who ‘has done great things in her’.”(52)

Shrines bear witness to the eschatological dimension of the Christian faith, the tension experienced as it moves towards the fullness of the Kingdom. This is the foundation and source of the moral and political vocation of the faithful to offer, in history, a critical reading of human projects in the light of the Gospel, one that reminds men and women of their higher destiny, prevents them from being impoverished by the myopia of materialism and obliges them to serve unceasingly as the leaven (cf. Mt 13:33) of a more just and more humane society.

Precisely because they are reminders of another dimension, that of the “new heavens and the new earth” (Rev 21:1), shrines stimulate us to live as a critical and prophetic ferment in these present heavens and in this present earth and they renew the vocation of Christians to live in the world, while not being of the world (cf. Jn 17:16). This vocation is a rejection of the ideological exploitation of any sign whatsoever, in order to be a stimulating presence at the service of the edification of the whole person in each person, according to the will of the Lord.

In this light, we can understand how a thoughtful plan of pastoral action can make shrines places of education in ethical values, particularly justice, solidarity, peace and the protection of creation, and thus contribute to the growth of quality of life for everyone.


17. A convergence of efforts

Shrines are not only human achievements, but also visible signs of the presence of the invisible God. For this reason, they call for an appropriate convergence of human efforts and a proper awareness of the roles and responsibilities of those concerned with the pastoral care which they provide, precisely to bring about a full recognition and a fruitful reception of the gift that the Lord gives to his people through each shrine.

Shrines offer a valuable service to the individual particular Churches, above all by making available the proclamation of the Word of God and the celebration of the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.(53) This service expresses and strengthens the historical and spiritual bonds linking shrines with the Churches in whose heart they were born. It demands that the pastoral action carried out by the shrine should be fully incorporated into that of the Bishops, with particular concern for what pertains particularly to the “charism” of the place and the spiritual benefit of the faithful who go there on pilgrimage.

Under the guidance of the individual Bishops or of the whole Episcopal Conference, depending on each case, the specific pastoral identity and organizational structure of shrines should be defined in their proper statutes.(54) The sharing of shrines in the diocesan plan of pastoral care requires that arrangements be made for the specific preparation of the persons and the communities to which each shrine is entrusted.

It is equally important for cooperation and forms of association between shrines to be encouraged, especially among those in the same geographical and cultural area, as well as the coordination of their pastoral activity with the pastoral care of tourists and human mobility in general. The remarkable growth of such initiatives – from international congresses to continental and national meetings(55) - calls attention to the increasing numbers of people visiting shrines. It is also a reminder of pressing new needs and has given rise to new pastoral responses to the changing challenges of places and time.

The “mystery of the temple” thus offers a wealth of possibilities for meditation and fruitful activity. As a memory of our origin, the shrine calls to mind God’s initiative and helps pilgrims to recognize it with a sense of awe, gratitude and commitment. As a place of the divine presence, it bear witness to God’s faithfulness and his constant activity in the midst of His people, through his Word and the sacraments. As a prophecy, or a reminder of our heavenly homeland, it makes us remember that everything is not finished, but must yet be accomplished fully in accordance with God’s promise which is our goal. Precisely by showing the relativity of everything penultimate in regard to our ultimate homeland, shrines point to Christ as the new Temple of mankind reconciled with God.

Keeping in mind these three theological dimensions of the shrine, the pastoral care provided in shrines should be concerned to foster a constant renewal of the spiritual life and of commitment to the Church, in an intense and critical vigilance towards all cultures and human achievements, yet also in a spirit of cooperation, open to the demands of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.

18. Mary, the living shrine

The Virgin Mary is the living shrine of the Word of God, the Ark of the New and Eternal Covenant. In fact, Saint Luke’s account of the Annunciation of the angel to Mary nicely incorporates the images of the tent of meeting with God in Sinai and of the Temple of Zion. Just as the cloud covered the people of God marching in the desert (cf. Nm 10:34; Dt 33:12; Ps 91:4) and just as the same cloud, as a sign of the divine mystery present in the midst of Israel, hovered over the Ark of the Covenant (cf. Ex 40:35), so now the shadow of the Most High envelops and penetrates the tabernacle of the new covenant that is the womb of Mary (cf. Lk 1:35).

Indeed, Luke the evangelist subtly links the words of the angel to the song that the prophet Zephaniah raises to the presence of God in Zion. To Mary, the angel says: Rejoice, you who are filled with Gods grace! The Lord is with you¼ Mary, do not be afraid... You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son... (Lk 1:28-31). To Zion, the prophet says: Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! ... The Lord is king among you, Israel, you have nothing more to fear... Zion, have no fear... the Lord your God is there with you, the warrior-Saviour.” (Zeph 3:14-17) In the “womb” (be qereb) of the daughter of Zion, symbol of Jerusalem, site of the temple, the presence of God with his people is made manifest. In the womb of the new daughter of Zion, the Lord establishes his perfect temple in order to have full communion with mankind through his Son, Jesus Christ.

This theme is reasserted in the scene of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. The question that the latter addresses to the future mother of Jesus is significant: “Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?” (Lk 1:43). Her words evoke those of David before the Ark of the Lord: “How can the ark of Yahweh come to be with me?” (2 Sam 6:9). Mary is thus the new Ark of the Lord’s presence. In passing we may note that here the title Kyrios, “Lord”, applied to Christ, appears for the first time in the Gospel of Luke. This is the title that translated the sacred name YHWH in the Greek Bible. Just as the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom for three months, filling it with blessings (cf. 2 Sam 6:11), so too Mary, the living Ark of God, remained three months in the house of Elizabeth with her sanctifying presence (cf. Lk 1:56).

Here the statement of St. Ambrose is instructive: “Mary was the temple of God, not the God of the temple; hence only he who was at work in the temple is to be adored.”(56) For this reason, “the Church, throughout her life, maintains with the Mother of God a link which embraces, in the saving mystery, the past, the present and the future, and venerates her as the spiritual mother of humanity and the advocate of grace,”(57) as is shown by the presence of numerous Marian shrines all over the world,(58) which constitute an authentic “missionary Magnificat”.(59)

In the many Marian shrines, the Holy Father states, “not only individuals or local groups, but sometimes whole nations and societies, even whole continents, seek to meet the Mother of the Lord, the one who is blessed because she believed, is the first among believers and therefore became the Mother of Emmanuel. This is the message of the Land of Palestine, the spiritual homeland of all Christians because it was the homeland of the Saviour of the world and of his Mother. This is the message of the many churches in Rome and throughout the world which have been raised up in the course of the centuries by the faith of Christians. This is the message of centers like Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima and the others situated in the various countries. Among them how could I fail to mention the one in my own native land, Jasna Gora? One could perhaps speak of a specific ‘geography’ of faith and Marian devotion, which includes all these special places of pilgrimage where the People of God seek to meet the Mother of God in order to find, within the radius of the maternal presence of her ‘who believed’, a strengthening of their own faith.”(60)

To this end, those who are responsible for the pastoral care of shrines should be ever attentive that the various expressions of Marian piety are integrated into the liturgical life which is the center and the very meaning of the shrine.

In approaching Mary, pilgrims should feel themselves called to experience that “paschal dimension”(61) which gradually transforms their life through the hearing of the Word, the celebration of the sacraments and a commitment on behalf of their brothers and sisters.

From the encounter of communities and individuals with Mary, “Star of evangelization”,(62) pilgrims, like the Apostles before them, will be impelled to proclaim by word and by witness of life “the mighty works of God.” (Acts 2:11)

Vatican City, 8 May 1999.

† Archbishop Stephen Fumio Hamao

† Archbishop Francesco Gioia

(1) Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Pilgrimage in the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 (11 April 1998), 32; the text refers to Ex 27:21; 29:4.10-

(2) Cf. ibid.; Document of the Italian Episcopal Conference «Venite, saliamo sul monte del Signore» (Is 2,3). Il pellegrinaggio alle soglie del terzo millennio (29 June 1998).

(3) Code of Canon Law, can. 1230.

(4) Ibid.. can. 1234, §1.

(5) Pope John Paul II, Homily in Corrientes, Argentina (9 April 1987).

(6) Pope John Paul II, Angelus (12 July 1992).

(7) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 6.

(8) The various shrines of ancient Israel (Shechem, Bethel, Beersheba, Shiloh) are all linked to the stories of the Patriarchs and are memorials of the encounter with the living God.

(9) Epist. 3,1: Sources Chrétiennes 363,124.

(10) Ibid., 3,2: SCh 363, 126.

(11) In shrines, it is possible «to enkindle the fire of divine love in every home», as Theodoret of Cyr observes with regard to the Church built in honor of St. Thecla (Historia Religiosa 29,7: SCh 257, 239).

(12) St. Augustine, Letter to Proba, 130,8,15.

(13) St. Augustine, Commentary on the Letter of John, IX,9.

(14) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 65.

(15) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Constitution. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 111.

(16) Cf. Pope John Paul II, Homily at the Shrine of Belém, Brazil (8 July 1980).

(17) The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that «for pilgrims who are in search of their own living springs, shrines are exceptional places where the various forms of Christian prayer may be lived ‘as Church’ » (2691) .

(18) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 54 and 65.

(19) Pseudo-Eusebius of Alexandra, Sermons 16: PG 86, 416.

(20) Pope John Paul II writes in his Apostolic Letter Dies Domini (31 May 1998), «There is also a rediscovery of ancient religious practices, such as pilgrimages; and often the faithful take advantage of Sunday rest to visit a shrine where, with the whole family perhaps, they can spend time in a more intense experience of faith. These are moments of grace which must be fostered through evangelization and guided by genuine pastoral wisdom» (52).

(21) One thinks again of the Songs of Ascent to the temple of Jerusalem and of the image of God, the guardian of Israel, that they present (cf. esp. Pss 121 and 127).

(22) Gregory of Nyssa writes: «Wherever you are, God will come to you, if the dwelling in your soul is found to be such that the Lord can dwell in you» (Epistula 2,16: SCh 363, 121).

(23) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 6.

(24) POPE PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (8 December 1975), 48.

(25) Cf. POPE JOHN PAUL II Homily at the Shrine of Zapopán, Mexico (30 January 1979).

(26) Cf. INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGICAL COMMISSION, Doc. Fides et Inculturatio (1987), III, 2-7.

(27) PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE PASTORAL CARE FOR MIGRANTS AND ITINERANT PEOPLE, Walk towards the Splendour of God. Your God Walks with You. Proceedings of the First World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Shrines and Pilgrimages (Rome 26-29 February 1992), Final Document, 8, p. 216.

(28) Pilgrimage in the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, 34.

(29) POPE JOHN PAUL II, Message for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the International Catholic Organization for Cinema (31 October 1978).

(30) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis, 4.

(31) Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Dives in Misericordia (30 November 1980), 1.

(32) Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis (4 March 1979), 20.

(33) For a basic orientation with regard to the catechesis and the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, cf. Pope John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia (2 December 1984).

(34) Pope John Paul II, Bull of Indiction of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 Incarnationis Mysterium (20 November 1998), 9.

(35) Ibid., 10. Cf. POPE PAUL VI, Apostolic Constitution Indulgentiarum Doctrina (1 January 1967).

(36) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis, 5.

(37) Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2653; cf. POPE PAUL VI, Encyclical Letter Mysterium Fidei (3 September 1965); CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Instruction Inaestimabile Donum (3 April 1980).

(38) POPE JOHN PAUL II, Letter to Archbishop Pasquale Macchi on the Seventh Centenary of the Shrine of the Holy House of Loreto (15 August 1993), 7.

(39) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree Apostolicam Actuositatem, 10.

(40) POPE JOHN PAUL II, Address at the General Audience (3 January 1979); cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENCAL COUNCIL, Decree Apostolicam Actuositatem, 11.

(41) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 63.

(42) As Pope John Paul II has stated: «Marian shrines are like the house of the Mother, refreshment and rest points on the long road that leads to Christ. They are forges, where, through the simple and humble faith of the ‘poor in spirit’ (cf. Mt 5:3), one comes in contact again with the great wealth that Christ has entrusted and granted to the Church, particularly the Sacraments, grace, mercy, charity towards our brothers who are suffering and sick» (Angelus, 21 June 1987).

(43) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree Unitatis Redintegratio, 4.

(44) Ibid. 8.

(45) PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN UNITY, Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (25 March 1993), 29 and 103.

(46) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 16.

(47) Cf. POPE JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis (4 March 1979), 6.

(48) Cf. POPE JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente (10 November 1994), 52-53.

(49) Cf. POPE JOHN PAUL II, Homily at the Mass for the Sick in St. Peter’s Basilica (11 February 1990).

(50) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 41; cf. POPE JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris (11 February 1984).

(51) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 8; cf. Decree Unitatis Redintegratio, 6-7.

(52) POPE JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Mater (25 March 1987), 37.

(53) On the other hand, it is particularly appropriate that the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Matrimony be celebrated in the parish of residence; in this way the faithful will be helped to grasp the community significance of these sacraments; cf. POPE JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici (30 December 1988), 26.

(54) Code of Canon Law, can. 1232. The French Episcopal Conference, for example, has issued a Charter of Shrines.

(55)The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People is active in this area, as is demonstrated by its organization of two World Congresses (Rome, 26-29 February 1992 and Ephesus, Turkey, 4-7 May 1998) and two at a regional level (Máriapocs, Hungary, 2-4 September 1996 and Pompeii, Italy, 17-21 October 1998), cf. the relative Proceedings.

(56) De Spiritu Sancto III, 11:80.

(57) POPE JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Mater (25 March 1987), 47.

(58) POPE JOHN PAUL II reminds us: “I know very well that every people, every country, indeed every diocese, has its holy places in which the heart of the whole people of God beats, one could say, in more lively fashion: places of special encounter between God and human beings; places in which Christ dwells in a special way in our midst. If these places are so often dedicated to his Mother, it reveals all the more fully to us the nature of his Church,” Homily at the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, Ireland (30 September 1979).

(59) POPE JOHN PAUL II, Message to the Third Latin-American Missionary Congress (Bogotá, 6 July 1987).

(60) POPE JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Mater (25 March 1987), 28.

(61) CONG. FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular Letter to the Presidents of the National Liturgical Commissions Orientamenti e proposte per la celebrazione dell’Anno mariano (3 April 1987), 78. Notitiae 23 (1987), p. 386.

(62) POPE PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (8 December l975), 82.

The Love of Christ Towards Migrants (Erga migrantes caritas Christi)

Erga migrantes caritas Christi
(The love of Christ towards migrants)

Vatican City



The challenge of human mobility
International migration
Domestic migration

Part I


Migration as seen with the eyes of faith
Migration and the History of Salvation
Christ the “foreigner” and Mary, a living symbol of the emigrant
The Church of Pentecost
The Church’s care for migrants and refugees
Exsul Familia
The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council
Canonical norms
Pastoral lines of the Magisterium
Entities of the Holy See

Part II


Inculturation, cultural and religious pluralism
The Church of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council
Welcome and solidarity
Liturgy and popular piety
Catholic migrants
Eastern Rite Catholic migrants
Migrants of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities
Migrants of other religions in general
Four matters calling for particular attention
Muslim migrants
Interreligious dialogue

Part III


In the home and the host Churches
The national co-ordinator for chaplains/missionaries
The migrants’ chaplain/missionary
Diocesan/eparchial presbyters as chaplains/missionaries
Religious presbyters, brothers and sisters working among migrants
The laity, lay associations and ecclesial movements: for an engagement among migrants

Part IV


Unity in plurality: the problems
Pastoral structures
Integrated pastoral care and its various sectors
Pastoral units



Semina Verbi (Seeds of the Word)
Builders of communion
A dialoguing and missionary spirit in pastoral care
The Church and Christians, sign of hope


Chap. I: The lay faithful
Chap. II: Chaplains/missionaries
Chap. III: Men and women religious
Chap. IV: Church Authorities
Chap. V: Episcopal Conferences and corresponding hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches
Chap. VI: The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People


Today’s migration makes up the vastest movement of people of all times. In these last decades, the phenomenon, now involving about two hundred million individuals, has turned into a structural reality of contemporary society. It is becoming an increasingly complex problem from the social, cultural, political, religious, economic and pastoral points of view.

Taking into consideration the new migration flows and their characteristics, the Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi aims to update the pastoral care of migration, thirty-five years after the publication of Pope Paul VI’s Motu Proprio Pastoralis migratorum cura and the Congregation for Bishops’ related Instruction De pastorali migratorum cura (Nemo est).

Thus it intends to be an ecclesial response to the new pastoral needs of migrants and lead them towards the transformation of their migration experience not only into an opportunity to grow in Christian life, but also an occasion of new evangelization and mission. Furthermore, the document aims to apply accurately the norms contained both in the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church and in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches in order to respond more adequately to the pastoral needs of the emigrant faithful of the Eastern Churches. They are now more and more numerous.

The composition of today’s migration also requires an ecumenical vision of the phenomenon because of the presence of many migrants not in full communion with the Catholic Church. It also imposes the need of inter-religious dialogue because of the increasing number of migrants belonging to other religions, particularly Muslims, in traditionally Catholic countries, and vice-versa. Finally, another purely pastoral need, which is indispensable, is the promotion of pastoral action that is both faithful to tradition and open to new developments. These include pastoral structures which must also be apt to guarantee communion between pastoral agents in the field of migration and the local hierarchy in the receiving country. The latter continues to be the decisive organ of the solicitude of the Church for migrants.

The document then rapidly reviews some causes of today’s migration phenomenon (globalization, demographic changes especially in the countries that were industrialized first, increase in inequality between North and South, the proliferation of conflicts and civil wars). After that, it highlights the grave difficulties that emigration generally entails for individuals, particularly women and children, as well as for families. Such a phenomenon raises the ethical problem of establishing a new international economic order with a more equitable distribution of the goods of the earth, in which the international community is considered a family of peoples whose relations are governed by International Law. Next, the Document presents a specific biblico-theological frame of reference, incorporating the migration phenomenon into the history of salvation, as a sign of the times and of the presence of God in history and in the community of peoples, directed to universal communion.

A brief historical excursus attests to the solicitude of the Church for migrants and refugees in its documents, from Exsul Familia to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, the Instruction De pastorali migratorum cura and the subsequent canonical norms. All this reveals important theological and pastoral insights. These include the centrality of the person of the migrant and the defense of his rights, the ecclesial and missionary dimension of migration itself, the consideration of the pastoral contribution of the lay faithful, the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, the value of culture in the work of evangelization, the protection and the valorization of minorities also in the local Church, the importance of ecclesial dialogue, both intra and extra, and finally, the specific contribution that migration can offer for universal peace.

There then follows a presentation of other topics: the need for “inculturation”, the vision of Church as communion, mission and People of God, the ever new importance of a specific pastoral care for migrants, the dialogical-missionary commitment of all the members of the Mystical Body of Christ, and the consequent duty of forming a culture of welcome and solidarity. These introduce the analysis of pastoral questions that require responses, specifically the pastoral approaches among Catholic migrants, both of the Latin and the Eastern rites, of migrants who belong to other Churches or Ecclesial Communities, and those who are followers of other religions, Islam in particular.

After this comes a more detailed description, or pastoral and juridical definition, of pastoral agents (namely, Chaplains/Missionaries and their National Coordinators, diocesan/eparchial priests, religious priests and brothers, women religious, lay people, lay associations and ecclesial movements), whose apostolic commitment is seen and considered in view of a “pastoral care of communion”, an integrated one.

Another important pastoral characteristic, that the Document points out and proposes to the particular Churches, is the integration of pastoral structures (those already established and those proposed) and the ecclesial inclusion of migrants in ordinary pastoral care, with full respect for their legitimate diversity and of their spiritual and cultural patrimony, also in view of the formation of a concretely Catholic Church. Such an integration is an essential condition for pastoral care, for and with migrants, to become a significant expression of the universal Church and missio ad Gentes, fraternal and peaceful meeting, house of everyone, school of communion that is received and shared, of reconciliation that is implored and granted, of mutual and fraternal welcome and solidarity, as well as authentic human and Christian promotion.

The Instruction concludes with updated and accurate “juridico-pastoral regulations”, which uses appropriate language in recalling duties, tasks and roles of pastoral agents and of the various Church entities in charge of the pastoral care of migration.

Stephen Fumio Cardinal Hamao

+ Agostino Marchetto
Titular Archbishop of Astigi


The Migration Phenomenon Today

The challenge of human mobility
1. 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. Migration is often determined by a free decision of the migrants themselves, taken fairly frequently not only for economic reasons but also for cultural, technical or scientific motives. As such it is for the most part a clear indication of social, economic and demographic imbalance on a regional or world-wide level, which drives people to emigrate.

The roots of the phenomenon can also be traced back to exaggerated nationalism and, in many countries, even to hatred and systematic or violent exclusion of ethnic or religious minorities from society. This can be seen in civil, political, ethnic and even religious conflicts raging in all continents. Such tensions swell the growing flood of refugees, who often mingle with other migrants. The impact can be felt in host societies, in which ethnic groups and people with different languages and cultures are brought together with the risk of reciprocal opposition and conflict.

2. Migration, however, also helps people get to know one another and provides opportunity for dialogue and communion or indeed integration at various levels. Pope John Paul II drew attention to this in his Message for the World Day for Peace 2001: “In the case of many civilisations, immigration has brought new growth and enrichment. In other cases, the local people and immigrants have remained culturally separate but have shown that they are able to live together, respecting each other and accepting or tolerating the diversity of customs.”[1]

3. The challenge confronting us in today’s migrations is not an easy one because many different spheres are involved: economics, sociology, politics, health, culture and security. All Christians must respond to this challenge; it is not just a matter of good will or the personal charisma of a few.

We must not, however, forget the generous response of many men and women, associations and organisations which, seeing the sufferings of countless persons caused by emigration, are struggling for the rights of migrants, forced or voluntary, and for their defence. The commitment of these people can be attributed above all to that compassion of Jesus, the Good Samaritan, that the Spirit stirs up everywhere in the hearts of men and women of good will and in the Church too, which “relives once more the mystery of her Divine Founder, the mystery of life and death”[2]. Moreover the task entrusted by our Lord to His Church to proclaim the Word of God has been interwoven from the very beginning with the history of the emigration of Christians.

We therefore thought of writing this Instruction. Its prime purpose is to respond to the new spiritual and pastoral needs of migrants and to make migration more and more an instrument of dialogue and proclamation of the Christian message. In addition this Document sets out to provide an answer to certain important present-day needs. This includes the necessity to take into due account the new norms of the two Codes of Canon Law now in force for the Latin Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches, thus answering the particular needs of the growing numbers of emigrants of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Then there is also the need to bear in mind the ecumenical aspect of the phenomenon, owing to the presence among migrants of Christians not in full communion with the Catholic Church, and also the inter-religious aspect, owing to the increasing number of migrants of other religions, in particular Muslims. Finally our pastoral care must be open to new developments in pastoral structures themselves, while at the same time guaranteeing communion between pastoral workers in this specific field and the local hierarchy.

International Migration
4. The ever-increasing migration phenomenon today is an important component of that growing interdependence among nation states that goes to make up globalisation,[3] which has flung markets wide open but not frontiers, has demolished boundaries for the free circulation of information and capital, but not to the same extent those for the free circulation of people. No state is any longer exempt from the consequences of some form of migration, which is often strongly linked to negative factors. These include the demographic changes that are taking place in countries that were industrialised first, the increase in inequality between north and south, the existence of protectionist barriers in international trade, which do not allow emerging countries to sell their products on competitive terms in the markets of western countries and, finally, the proliferation of civil wars and conflicts. All these factors will increase migration flows in the years to come (cf. EEu 87, 115 and PaG 67), even though the appearance of terrorism on the international scene will provoke reactions for security reasons. These reactions will inevitably obstruct the movement of migrants who dream of finding a job and security in the so-called wealthy countries which, for their part, require more manpower.

5. It is not surprising, therefore, that migration meant and still means enormous hardships and suffering for the migrants. Yet, especially in more recent times and in certain circumstances, it has often been encouraged and promoted to foster the economic development of both the migrants’ host country and their country of origin (especially through their financial remittances). Many nations, in fact, would not be what they are today without the contribution made by millions of immigrants.

The emigration of family nuclei and women is particularly marked by suffering. Women migrants are becoming more and more numerous. They are often contracted as unskilled labourers (or domestics) and employed illegally. Often migrants are deprived of their most elementary human rights, including that of forming labour unions, when they do not become outright victims of the sad phenomenon of human trafficking, which no longer spares even children. This is a new chapter in the history of slavery.

However, even without such extremes, it is necessary to reiterate that foreign workers are not to be considered merchandise or merely manpower. Therefore they should not be treated just like any other factor of production. Every migrant enjoys inalienable fundamental rights which must be respected in all cases. Furthermore the migrants’ contribution to the economy of the host country comes together with the possibility for them to use their intelligence and abilities in their work.

6. In this regard, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and the Members of their Families – which entered into force on 1 July 2003 and whose ratification was strongly recommended by Pope John Paul II[4]– offers a compendium of rights[5] that give migrants the possibility to make such a contribution. What the Convention foresees therefore deserves the adherence particularly of those states that benefit most from migration. To this end, the Church encourages the ratification of the international legal instruments that ensure the rights of migrants, refugees and their families. The Church also offers its advocacy, which is more and more necessary today, through its various competent institutions and associations (as centres for migrant needs, houses open to them, offices for necessary services, documentation and counselling, etc.). Migrants are often victims of illegal recruitment and of short-term contracts providing poor working and living conditions. This is because they often have to suffer physical, verbal and even sexual abuse, work long hours, often without the benefits of medical care and the usual forms of social security.

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.[6]

7. The growing presence of Muslims, as well as followers of other religions, in traditionally Christian countries falls under the broader and more complex heading of the meeting between cultures and interreligious dialogue. In any case, Christians are also present in significant numbers in some nations whose populations are in the vast majority Muslim.

In the face of the widespread migratory phenomenon, with aspects profoundly different today from what they were in the past, policies on a purely national level would be of little value. No country today may think that it can solve migration problems on its own. Even more ineffective would be purely restrictive policies, which, in turn, would generate still more negative effects, with the risk of increasing illegal entries and even favouring the activities of criminal organisations.

8. International migration must therefore be considered an important structural component of the social, economic and political reality of the world today. The large numbers involved call for closer and closer collaboration between countries of origin and destination, in addition to adequate norms capable of harmonising the various legislative provisions. The aim of this would be to safeguard the needs and rights of the emigrants and their families and, likewise, those of the societies receiving them.

At the same time, however, migration raises a truly ethical question: the search for a new international economic order for a more equitable distribution of the goods of the earth. This would make a real contribution to reducing and checking the flow of a large number of migrants from populations in difficulty. From this there follows the need for a more effective commitment to educational and pastoral systems that form people in a “global dimension”, that is, a new vision of the world community, considered as a family of peoples, for whom the goods of the earth are ultimately destined when things are seen from the perspective of the universal common good.

9. Migration today furthermore imposes new commitments of evangelisation and solidarity on Christians and calls them to examine more profoundly those values shared by other religious or lay groups and indispensable to ensure a harmonious life together. 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 fulfilment of God’s plan for a universal communion. This new historical context is characterised by the thousand different faces of humanity and, unlike the past, diversity is becoming commonplace in very many countries. Therefore Christians are called to give witness to and practise not only the spirit of tolerance – itself a great achievement, politically and culturally speaking, not to mention religiously – but also respect for the other’s identity. Thus, where it is possible and opportune, they can open a way towards sharing with people of different origins and cultures, also in view of a “respectful proclamation” of their own faith. We are all therefore called to a culture of solidarity[7], often solicited by the Magisterium, so as to achieve together a real communion of persons. This is the laborious path that the Church invites everyone to follow.

Domestic migration
10. Recent times have also seen a considerable increase of domestic migration in various countries, sometimes voluntary, as that from country districts to cities, sometimes forced, as in the case of evacuees and of persons fleeing from terrorism, violence and drug-trafficking, especially in Africa and Latin America. It is estimated that world-wide the majority of migrants today remain within their own nations, in some cases moving about on a seasonal basis.

This type of mobility, left for the most part to evolve unattended, has encouraged the rapid and disordered expansion of urban centres unprepared to take in such masses of people and has fomented the growth of slums where conditions of life are socially and morally precarious. It compels migrants to settle in an environment that is very different from their place of origin, thus creating considerable hardship and grave danger of social uprooting with serious consequences for the religious and cultural traditions of these populations.

Nevertheless domestic migration keeps arousing great hopes, unfortunately often unfounded and illusory, in millions of persons, although it separates them from their family bonds and puts them in places with different climate and customs, even if the language may still be the same. If these migrants later return to where they came from, they take with them a changed mentality, a different way of life, and not rarely another outlook on the world or religion, and divergent behaviour. This also challenges the pastoral action of the Church as Mother and Teacher.

11. In this field too, today’s situation thus requires of pastoral workers and host communities, in other words, of the Church, loving attention to “people on the move” and to their need for solidarity and fellowship. Through domestic migration too, the Spirit launches a clear and urgent appeal to renew and intensify our commitment to evangelisation and charity. This calls for well-designed forms of welcome and pastoral activity, that is, continuous, thorough and adapted as closely as possible to the actual situation and specific needs of the migrants.

Part I

Migration, Sign of the Times and Concern for the Church

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 even when caused by obvious injustices. Migration brings together the manifold components of the human family and thus leads to the construction of an ever vaster and more varied society, almost a prolongation of that meeting of peoples and ethnic groups that, through the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, became ecclesial fraternity.

If, on the one hand, the suffering that goes with migration is neither more nor less than the birth-pangs of a new humanity, on the other the inequalities and disparities behind this suffering reveal the deep wounds that sin causes in the human family. They are thus an urgent appeal for true fraternity.

13. This vision leads us to approach migration in the light of those biblical events that mark the phases of humanity’s arduous journey towards the birth of a people without discrimination or frontiers, depository of God’s gift for all nations and open to man’s eternal vocation. Faith perceives in it the journey of the Patriarchs, sustained by the promise as they moved towards the future homeland, and that of the Hebrews, freed from slavery, as they crossed the Red Sea in the Exodus, that formed the People of the Covenant. Again, in a certain sense, faith finds in migration an exile, in which every goal reached in fact is relative. In migration faith discovers once more the universal message of the prophets, who denounce discrimination, oppression, deportation, dispersion and persecution as contrary to God’s plan. At the same time they proclaim salvation for all, witnessing even in the chaotic events and contradictions of human history, that God continues to work out his plan of salvation until all things are brought together in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10).

Migration and the History of Salvation
14. We can therefore consider the present-day phenomenon of migration a significant “sign of the times”, a challenge to be discovered and utilised in our work to renew humanity and proclaim the gospel of peace.

The Holy Scriptures show us clearly what all this means. Israel traced its origins back to Abraham, who in obedience to God’s call left his home and went to a foreign land, taking with him the divine Promise that he would become the father “of a great nation” (Gn 12:1-2). Jacob, a wandering Aramaen, “went down into Egypt with a small household and lived there as an alien. But there he became a nation, great, strong and numerous” (Dt 26:5). After its long servitude in Egypt Israel received its solemn investiture as the “People of God” during its forty-year “Exodus” through the desert. The hard test of migration and deportation is therefore fundamental to the story of the chosen people in view of the salvation of all peoples: Israel knew the return from exile (cf. Is 42:6-7; 49:5). With these memories it could take new heart in its trust in God, even in the darkest moments of its history (Ps 105 [104]: 12-15; Ps 106 [105]: 45-47).With regard to the foreigner living in the country, the Law enjoins the same commandment on Israel as applies to “the children of your people” (Lv 19:18), that is, “you must … love him as yourself” (Lv 19:34).

Christ the “foreigner” and Mary, a living symbol of the emigrant
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, summing up and repeating in His own life the basic experience of His people (cf. Mt 2:13ff). Born away from home and coming from another land (cf. Lk 2:4-7), “he came to dwell among us” (cf. Jn 1:11,14) and spent His public life on the move, going through towns and villages (cf. Lk 13:22; Mt 9:35). After His resurrection, still a foreigner and unknown, He appeared on the way to Emmaus to two of His disciples, who only recognised Him at the breaking of the bread (cf. Lk 24:35). So Christians are followers of a man on the move “who has nowhere to lay his head (Mt 8:20; Lk 9:58)”8.

In the same way Mary, the Mother of Jesus, can be equally well contemplated as a living symbol of the woman emigrant9.She gave birth to her Son away from home (cf. Lk 2:1-7) and was compelled to flee to Egypt (cf. Mt 2:13-14). Popular devotion is right to consider Mary as the Madonna of the Way.

The Church of Pentecost
16. Contemplating now the Church, we see that it was born from Pentecost, fulfilment of the Paschal Mystery. It was a real and symbolic meeting of peoples, which later led Paul to declare, “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). For Christ in fact “has made the two into one and broken down the barrier which used to keep them apart” (Eph 2:14).

To follow Christ means to walk behind Him and be in transit in the world because “there is no eternal city for us in this life” (Heb 13:14). The believer is always a pároikos, a temporary resident, a guest wherever he may be (cf. 1Pt 1:1; 2:11; Jn 17:14-16). This means that for Christians it is not all that important where they live geographically10, while a sense for hospitality is natural to them. The apostles insist on this point (cf. Rm 12:13; Heb 13:2; 1Pt 4:9; 3 Jn 5), and the Pastoral Letters enjoin this particularly on the episkopos (cf. 1Tim 3:2; Tt 1:8). In the early Church, hospitality was the Christians’ response to the needs of itinerant missionaries, of religious leaders in exile or on a journey, and of poor members of various communities11.

17. Foreigners are also a visible sign and an effective reminder of that universality which is a constituent element of the Catholic Church. A vision of Isaiah announced this: “In the days to come the mountain of the temple of Yahweh shall tower above the mountains… All the nations will stream to it” (Is 2:2). In the gospel our Lord Himself prophesied that “people from east and west, from north and south, will come to take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God” (Lk 13:29), and the Apocalypse sees “a huge number… from every nation, race, tribe and language” (Ap 7:9). The Church is now toiling on its way to this final goal12; today’s migrations can remind us of this “huge number” and be seen as a call and prefiguration of the final meeting of all humanity with God and in God.

18. Migrants’ journeying can thus become a living sign of an eternal vocation, a constant stimulus to that hope which points to a future beyond this present world, inspiring the transformation of the world in love and eschatological victory. The peculiarities of migrants is an appeal for us to live again the fraternity of Pentecost, when differences are harmonised by the Spirit and charity becomes authentic in accepting one another. So the experience of migration can be the announcement of the paschal mystery, in which death and resurrection make for the creation of a new humanity in which there is no longer slave or foreigner (cf. Gal 3:28).

The Church’s care for migrants and refugees

19. The migrations of the last century represented a challenge to the pastoral care of the Church, which was organised on the basis of stable territorial parishes. Previously members of the clergy had accompanied groups setting off abroad to colonise new lands, but from the middle of the 19th century on, the pastoral care of migrants was entrusted more and more frequently to missionary Congregations13.

Then in 1914 the Decree Ethnografica studia14 dealt for the first time with the question of clergy involved in the care of migrants. It stressed the responsibility of the local Church to assist immigrants and suggested that the local clergy be given specific preparation for this, linguistically, culturally and pastorally. A little later, following the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law, the Decree Magni semper of 191815 gave the Consistorial Congregation competence for matters concerning the authorisation of clergy for assistance to migrants.

Following the Second World War the migration phenomenon became even more dramatic not only as a result of the devastation caused by the conflict but also by the worsening of the phenomenon of refugees (especially from what was termed the Eastern Countries), many of whom belonged to various Eastern Catholic Churches.

Exsul Familia

20. By then the need was thus being felt for a document to bring together the heritage of previous regulations and provisions and offer an orientation for an organic pastoral care. This was wisely answered on 1st August 1952 in Pope Pius XII’s Apostolic Constitution Exsul Familia16, which is considered the magna charta of the Church’s thought on migration. It is the first official document of the Holy See to delineate the pastoral care of migrants globally and systematically, from both the historical and canonical points of view. In the Constitution, a wide-ranging historical analysis is followed by a detailed exposition of norms. It affirmed that the primary responsibility for the pastoral care of migrants lay with the local diocesan bishop, even though the actual organisation of the matter was still laid down by the Consistorial Congregation.

The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council

21. Later on the Second Vatican Council worked out important directives for this particular pastoral work. It called on Christians in particular to be aware of the phenomenon of migration (cf. GS 65 and 66) and to realise the influence that emigration has on life. The Council reaffirmed the right to emigrate (cf. GS 65)17, the dignity of migrants (cf. GS 66), the need to overcome inequalities in economic and social development (cf. GS 63) and to provide an answer to the authentic needs of the human person (cf. GS 84). On the other hand the Council recognised the right of the public authorities, in a particular context, to regulate the flow of migration (cf. GS 87).

The Council stated that the People of God must assure its generous contribution to the reality of emigration. It called upon the laity in particular to extend their collaboration to all sectors of society (cf. AA 10) and thus be a “neighbour” for the migrant (cf. GS 27). The Council Fathers showed special interest in those faithful who “on account of their way of life, cannot sufficiently make use of the common and ordinary pastoral care of parish priests or are quite cut off from it. Among this group are the majority of migrants, exiles and refugees, seafarers, air-travellers, gypsies, and others of this kind. Suitable pastoral methods – they went on – should also be promoted to sustain the spiritual life of those who go to other lands for a time for the sake of recreation. Episcopal conferences, especially national ones, – they finally urged – should pay special attention to the very pressing problems concerning the above-mentioned groups. Through voluntary agreement and united efforts, they should look to and promote their spiritual care by means of suitable methods and institutions. They should also bear in mind the special rules either already laid down or to be laid down by the Apostolic See which can be wisely adapted to the circumstances of time, place, and persons”18.

22. The Second Vatican Council therefore marked a decisive moment for the pastoral care of migrants and itinerant persons, attributing particular importance to the meaning of mobility and catholicity and that of particular Churches, to the sense of parish, and to the vision of the Church as mystery of communion. Thus the Church stands out as “a people that derives its union from the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (LG 4) and presents itself as such.

Welcoming the stranger, a characteristic of the early Church, thus remains a permanent feature of the Church of God. It is practically marked by the vocation to be in exile, in diaspora, dispersed among cultures and ethnic groups without ever identifying itself completely with any of these. Otherwise it would cease to be the first-fruit and sign, the leaven and prophecy of the universal Kingdom and community that welcomes every human being without preference for persons or peoples. Welcoming the stranger is thus intrinsic to the nature of the Church itself and bears witness to its fidelity to the gospel19.

23. Continuing the Council’s teaching and implementing it, Pope Paul VI issued his Motu proprio Pastoralis Migratorum Cura20 (1969), promulgating the Instruction De Pastorali Migratorum Cura21. Then, in 1978, the Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migration and Tourism, the organism then responsible for the care of migrants, addressed a circular letter to the Episcopal Conferences entitled The Church and Human Mobility22, which gave an up-to-date account of migration at that time, offering a clear interpretation and indicating pastoral applications. The document went into the topic of the welcome of migrants by the local Church and stressed the need for intra-ecclesial collaboration so as to ensure pastoral care without frontiers. Finally the document recognised and drew attention to the specific role of the lay faithful and of men and women religious.

Canonical norms

24. The new Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church, in confirmation and application of the Council’s wishes, requests parish priests to be especially attentive towards persons who are far from their own country (Can. 529, §1) and stresses the desirability and obligation whenever possible of arranging specific pastoral care for them (Can. 568). Like the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches, it envisages the establishment of personal parishes (CIC Can. 518 and CCEO Can. 280, §1) as well as missions for the spiritual care of the faithful (Can. 516) and even the creation of specific pastoral figures such as episcopal vicars (Can. 476) and chaplains for migrants (Can. 568).

Again to implement the Council’s recommendations (cf. PO 10; AG 20, note 4; AG 27, note 28), the new Code also foresees the institution of other specific pastoral structures as provided for in the legislation and practice of the Church23.

25. The faithful of the Eastern Catholic Churches from Asia and the Middle East and from Central and Eastern Europe are now moving into western countries in large numbers. This obviously raises the question of their pastoral care, which always falls under the decisive responsibility of the Ordinary of the place where they are received. It is therefore an urgent matter to examine the pastoral and juridical consequences of the growing number of these faithful living outside their traditional territories and of the contacts being established officially or privately at various levels, both between communities as such and between single members of communities. The norms and regulations for this, which enable the Catholic Church to breathe already with two lungs24 so to speak, is found in the CCEO25.

26. The aforementioned Code provides for the constitution of Churches sui iuris (CCEO Can. 27, 28 and 148), calls for the promotion and observance of the “rites of the Eastern Churches as patrimony of the universal Church of Christ” (Can. 39; cf. also Can. 40 and 41) and establishes precise norms concerning liturgical and disciplinary laws (Can. 150). The Code also lays the obligation on the eparch to attend to the Christian faithful “of whatever age, condition, nation or Church sui iuris they may be, whether they are permanently or only temporarily resident in the eparchy” (Can. 192, §1) and to ensure that the Christian faithful of another Church sui iuris entrusted to his care “preserve the rite of their own Church” (Can. 193, §1) if possible “by the ministry of presbyters and parish priests of the same Church sui iuris (Can. 193, §2). Finally the Code recommends that the parish should be territorial but without excluding personal parishes if required by circumstances (cf. Can. 280, §1).

The Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches also provides for the possible establishment of an exarchate, defined as “a portion of the people of God which, for special circumstances, is not erected as an eparchy and which, limited to a certain territory or determined by other criteria, is entrusted to the pastoral care of the Exarch” (CCEO Can. 311, §1).

Pastoral lines of the Magisterium

27. Not only the canonical norms, but also a careful study of the documents and directives on migration so far issued by the Church clearly brings to light certain important theological and pastoral findings that have been acquired. These are: the central position of the human person and the defence of the rights of migrants, both men and women, and their children; the ecclesial and missionary dimension of migration; the reappraisal of the apostolate of the laity; the value of cultures in the work of evangelisation; the protection and appreciation of minority groups in the Church; the importance of dialogue both inside and outside the Church; and the specific contribution of emigration to world peace. These documents also illustrate the pastoral dimension of work for migrants. In fact all should find “their homeland”26 in the Church, for the Church is the mystery of God among men, the mystery of love shown by the Only-Begotten Son, especially in His death and resurrection, so that all “may have life, and have it to the full” (Jn 10,10), so that all may find strength to overcome every division and act in such a way that differences do not lead to rifts but communion by welcoming others in their legitimate diversity.

28. In the Church the role played by the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has been positively appraised in their specific contribution to the pastoral care of migrants27. The responsibility of diocesan bishops in this regard is unequivocally reaffirmed, both for the Church of origin and the Church of arrival. In such responsibility the Episcopal Conferences of the various countries and the corresponding structures in the Eastern Churches are also involved. Pastoral care of migrants means welcome, respect, protection, promotion and genuine love of every person in his or her religious and cultural expressions.

29. Recent Pontifical declarations too, have emphasised and widened horizons and pastoral perspectives with regard to migration, in the line of man as the way of the Church28. Since the pontificate of Pope Paul VI and later in that of Pope John Paul II, especially in the Messages for the World Days of Migrants and Refugees29, repeated affirmation is made of the fundamental rights of the person, in particular the right to emigrate so that the individual can turn his abilities, aspirations and projects to better account30. (This is stated, however, in the same context with the right of every country to pursue an immigration policy that promotes the common good.) Also the right of the individual not to emigrate is affirmed, that is, the right to be able to achieve his rights and satisfy his legitimate demands in his own country31.

The Magisterium has likewise always denounced social and economic imbalances that are, for the most part, the cause of migration, the dangers of an uncontrolled globalisation in which migrants are more the victims than the protagonists of their migration, and the serious problem of irregular immigration, especially when the migrant is an object of trafficking and exploitation by criminal organisations32.

30. The Magisterium has also insisted on the need of policies that effectively guarantee the rights of all migrants, “carefully avoiding every possible discrimination”33. It emphasizes a vast range of values and behaviour (hospitality, solidarity, sharing) and the need to reject all sentiments and manifestations of xenophobia and racism on the part of host communities34. In the context of both the legislation and administrative practices of various countries, it dedicates much attention to the unity of the family and the protection of minors, which is often put in danger by migration35, as well as to the formation of multicultural societies through migration.

Cultural plurality thus invites contemporary man to practise dialogue and also face basic questions such as the meaning of life and history, suffering and poverty, hunger, sickness and death. Openness to different cultural identities does not, however, mean accepting them all indiscriminately, but rather respecting them – because they are inherent in people – and, if possible, appreciating them in their diversity. The “relativity” of cultures was also stressed by the Second Vatican Council (cf. GS 54, 55, 56, 58). Plurality is a treasure, and dialogue is the as yet imperfect and ever evolving realization of that final unity to which humanity aspires and is called.

Entities of the Holy See

31. The Church’s constant concern for the religious, social and cultural care of migrants manifested by the Magisterium is likewise shown by the special entities established by the Holy See for this purpose.

The original inspiration behind them is to be found in the memorandum Pro emigratis catholicis of Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini who, aware of the difficulties that various European nationalist tendencies stirred up abroad, proposed to the Holy See a Pontifical Congregation (or Commission) for all Catholic emigrants. This Commission should be composed of representatives of different nations for the purpose of “spiritual assistance of emigrants in varied circumstances and in various stages of the phenomemon, especially in the Americas, to thus keep the Catholic faith alive in their hearts”36.

Little by little his intuition took shape. In 1912, following the reform of the Roman Curia by Pope St Pius X, the first Office for Migration Problems was set up within the Consistorial Congregation, while in 1970 Pope Paul VI instituted the Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migration and Tourism, which, in 1988, with the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, became the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. It was entrusted with the care of all who have been forced to abandon their homeland, as well as those who have none (refugees and exiles), migrants, nomads and circus people, seafarers both aboard ship and in port, all who are away from home and those working in airports or on airplanes37.

32. It is therefore the task of the Pontifical Council to stimulate, promote and animate opportune pastoral initiatives in favour of those who by choice or through necessity leave their normal place of residence, as well as to carefully follow the social, economic and cultural questions that are usually at the origin of such movements.

The Pontifical Council directly addresses Episcopal Conferences and their respective Councils, the corresponding episcopal structures in the Eastern Catholic Churches concerned, and also individual bishops and hierarchs. While respecting the responsibility of each one, it urges them to implement a specific pastoral care for persons involved in the ever growing phenomenon of human mobility and to adopt suitable provisions as called for by the changing situations.

In recent times the aspect of migration has become part of ecumenical relations too. As a result contacts with other Churches and Ecclesial Communities increase. From this perspective, attention is also given to inter-religious dialogue. Finally the Pontifical Council, through its superiors and officials, is at times present in the international arena, representing the Holy See at meetings of multilateral organisations.

33. Among the principal Catholic organisations for assistance of migrants and refugees, we cannot fail to mention the International Catholic Migration Commission established in 1951. It has great merit for the help it provided in its first fifty years to governments and international organisations, in a Christian spirit, and for its own original contribution in the search for lasting solutions for migrants and refugees all over the world. The service rendered by the Commission in the past and still done today “is bound by a two-fold fidelity: to Christ … and to the Church”, as stated by Pope John Paul II38, and its work “has been a fruitful point of ecumenical and interreligious cooperation”39.

Nor, finally, must we forget the important commitment of the various Caritas organisations and other similar organisms of charity and solidarity in the service of migrants and refugees.

Part II

Migrants and the Pastoral Care of Welcome

Inculturation, cultural and religious pluralism

34. The Church, sacrament of unity, overcomes ideological or racial barriers and divisions and proclaims to all people and all cultures the need to strive for the truth in the perspective of correctly facing differences by dialogue and mutual acceptance. Different cultural identities are thus to open up to a universal way of understanding, not abandoning their own positive elements but putting them at the service of the whole of humanity. While this logic engages every particular Church, it highlights and reveals that unity in diversity that is contemplated in the Trinity, which, for its part, refers the communion of all to the fullness of the personal life of each one.

The cultural situation today, global and dynamic as it is, calls for the incarnation of the one faith in many cultures and thus represents an unprecedented challenge, a true kairòs for the whole People of God (cf. EEu 58).

35. We are therefore face to face with a cultural and religious pluralism never perhaps experienced so consciously before. On the one hand, rapid progress is being made towards a world-wide openness, facilitated by technological means and the media, with the result that cultural and religious backgrounds, traditionally different and foreign to one another, are being brought into contact and even mingled with one another. On the other, fresh demands for a local identity emerge, which consider the cultural traits of each individual the means for self-realisation.

36. This fluidity of cultures makes “inculturation” even more indispensable, as it is not possible to evangelise without entering into serious dialogue with cultures. Together with peoples of different roots, other values and models of life are knocking at our doors. While each culture tends to interpret the gospel in terms of its own way of life, it is the task of the Magisterium of the Church to guide these attempts and judge their validity.

“Inculturation” begins by listening, which means getting to know those to whom we proclaim the gospel. Listening and knowing lead to a more adequate discernment of the values and “countervalues” of their cultures in the light of the Paschal Mystery of death and life. 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. To recognise and appreciate their positive aspects, which prepare them to accept the gospel, is a necessary prelude to its successful proclamation. This is the only way to create dialogue, understanding and trust. 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. The love of God, while it gives humankind the truth and shows everyone his highest vocation, also promotes his dignity and gives birth to community, based on the gospel proclamation being welcomed, interiorised, celebrated and lived40.

The Church of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council

37. In the vision of the Second Vatican Council there are three fundamental ways in which the Church carries out its pastoral ministry:

§ Being communion, the Church values the legitimate specific characteristics of Catholic communities, joining them together with a universal vision. In fact the unity of Pentecost does not abolish the various languages and cultures but recognises them in their identities, at the same time opening them to other realities through the universal love at work in them. The one Catholic Church is thus constituted by and in the particular Churches, just as the particular Churches are constituted in and by the universal Church (cf. LG 13)41.

§ Being missionary, the Church’s ministry is outward looking, passing on its own treasures to others and being enriched with new gifts and values. This missionary quality is at work inside each particular Church because mission is, in the first place, radiating the glory of God, and the Church needs “to hear the proclamation of the ‘mighty works of God’ … to be called together afresh by Him and reunited” (EN 15).

§ Being the People and family of God, mystery, sacrament, Mystical Body and Temple of the Spirit, the Church becomes the history of a people on the move. Its starting point is the mystery of Christ and the vicissitudes of the individual and groups of which it is composed, and from this it is called to fashion a new history, gift of God and fruit of human freedom. In the Church, therefore, migrants too are called to be protagonists of this, together with all the People of God as pilgrim on earth (cf. RMi 32, 49 and 71).

38. From a concrete point of view the specific pastoral choices to be taken for the welcome of migrants can be delineated as follows:

§ pastoral care of a particular ethnic or ritual group, aimed at promoting a genuinely Catholic spirit (cf. LG 13);

§ need to safeguard universality and unity, which cannot, however, clash at the same time with the specific pastoral care that, if possible, entrusts migrants to presbyters of the same language, of their own Church sui iuris, or to presbyters who are close to them from a linguistic and cultural point of view (cf. DPMC 11);

§ great importance of the migrants’ mother tongue, in which they express their mentality, thought and culture, and the characteristics of their spiritual life and the traditions of their Church of origin (cf. DPMC 11).

This specific pastoral work operates in the context of a phenomenon which, by bringing together persons of different nationalities, ethnic origins and religions into contact, contributes to making the true face of the Church visible (cf. GS 92) and brings out the value of migrations from the point of view of ecumenism and missionary work and dialogue42. In fact it is also through migration that God’s saving plan will be effected (cf. Acts 11, 19-21)43. To this end it is necessary to deepen the Christian life of migrants, which should be brought to maturity by means of an evangelizing and catechising type of apostolate (cf. CD 13-14 and DPMC 4).

This missionary-dialogical task pertains to all members of the mystical Body, which migrants themselves must carry out in the threefold function of Christ as Prophet, Priest and King. It will thus be necessary to build up the Church and make it grow in and with the migrants, to rediscover together and reveal Christian values and form an authentic sacramental community of faith, worship, love44 and hope.

The particular situation of chaplains, missionaries and lay pastoral workers with regard to the hierarchy and the local clergy means that they must be well aware of the necessity to carry out their ministry in close union with the diocesan bishop, or with the hierarch, and his clergy (cf. CD 28-29; AA 10 and PO 7). Moreover the difficulty and importance of achieving certain aims both on the individual and the community level will act as a stimulus for migrants’ chaplains and missionaries to seek the broadestpossible and correct collaboration of both men and women religious (cf. DPMC 52-55) and of the lay faithful (cf. DPMC 56-61)45.

Welcome and solidarity

39. Migration therefore touches the religious dimension of man too and offers Catholic migrants a privileged though often painful opportunity to reach a sense of belonging to the universal Church which goes beyond any local particularity. To this end it is important that communities do not think that they have completed their duty to migrants simply by performing acts of fraternal assistance or even by supporting legislation aimed at giving them their due place in society while respecting their identity as foreigners. Christians must in fact promote an authentic culture of welcome (cf. EEu 101 and 103) capable of accepting the truly human values of the immigrants over and above any difficulties caused by living together with persons who are different (cf. EEu 85, 112 and PaG 65).

40. Christians will accomplish all this by means of a truly fraternal welcome in the sense of St Paul’s admonition, “Welcome one another then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Rm 15:7)46.

Certainly the appeal alone, however nobly inspired and heartfelt, does not provide an automatic and practical reply to the pressing issues of every day. It does not, for example, eliminate a widespread fear or feeling of insecurity in people, neither does it guarantee due respect for legality nor safeguard the integrity of the host community. But a genuinely Christian spirit will give the right approach and courage to face these problems and suggest the practical means by which we are called to resolve them in the day-to-day life of our Christian communities (cf. EEu 85 and 111).

41. For this reason the entire Church in the host country must feel concerned and engaged regarding immigrants. This means that local Churches must rethink pastoral care, programming it to help the faithful live their faith authentically in today’s new multicultural and pluri-religious context47. With the help of social and pastoral workers, 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. This welcome is fully based on love for Christ, in the certainty that good done out of love of God to one’s neighbour, especially the most needy, is done to Him. This catechesis cannot avoid referring to the serious problems that precede and accompany migration, such as the demographic question, work and working conditions (illegal work), the care of the numerous elderly persons, criminality, the exploitation of migrants and trafficking and smuggling of human beings.

42. In welcoming migrants it is of course useful and correct to distinguish between assistance in a general sense (a first, short-term welcome), true welcome in the full sense (longer-term projects) and integration (an aim to be pursued constantly over a long period and in the true sense of the word).

Pastoral workers with competence in cultural mediation – and our Catholic communities too should ensure that they have such people – are called upon to help bridge the legitimate requirements of order, legality and social security with the Christian vocation to welcome others with practical expressions of love. It will also be important to ensure that all realise the benefits – not only economic – that industrialised countries derive from a regulated inflow of immigrants and at the same time become more and more aware that their need for manpower is being answered by human beings: men, women and whole families with children and elderly persons.

43. Nevertheless assistance or “first welcome” are of the greatest importance (let us think, for example, of migrants’ hospitality centres, especially in transit countries) in response to the emergencies that come with migrations: canteens, dormitories, clinics, economic aid, reception centres. 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.

Liturgy and popular piety

44. The ecclesiological foundation of the pastoral care of migrants will also help give shape to a liturgy that is more sensitive to the historical and anthropological aspects of migration, so that liturgical celebrations become a living expression of communities of believers who walk hic et nunc on the ways of salvation.

This raises the question of the relation of liturgy with the character, tradition and genius of different cultural groups and how to respond to the particular social and cultural situation of such groups by pastoral care that should consider their specific liturgical formation and ways of making liturgy more lively (cf. SC 23) and also promote the wider participation of the faithful in the particular Church (cf. EEu 69-72 and 78-80).

45. Owing also to the shortage of their numbers, presbyters should make the most of the lay faithful in non-ordained ministries. Where no presbyters are available, the possibility should be considered of organising so-called Sunday assemblies without a presbyter in immigrant communities too (cf. CIC Can. 1248, §2), where prayers are said, the Word proclaimed and the Eucharist distributed (cf. PaG 37) under the direction of a deacon or of a layperson duly authorised for this48. The shortage of priests for migrants can be partly remedied by entrusting certain activities in the parish to suitably prepared laymen in conformity with the CIC (cf. Can. 228, §1; 230, §3 and 517, §2).

In all this the general norms will be observed as laid down by the Holy See and recalled in the Apostolic Letter Dies Domini, which states: “When it is impossible to celebrate the Eucharist, the Church recommends the holding of Sunday assemblies in the absence of a priest in accordance with the indications and directives of the Holy See whose application is entrusted to the Episcopal Conferences”49.

In this connection, presbyters will do all they can to make the People of God aware of the need in every particular Church of authentic vocations to the priesthood and to promote intense vocation ministry in this regard among immigrants too (EEu 31-32 and PaG 53-54).

46. Popular piety, too, deserves particular attention50 as it is characteristic of many migrant communities. Besides recognising that “when it is well oriented, above all by a pedagogy of evangelisation, it is rich in values” (EN 48), 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 putting into action an in-depth work of evangelisation and 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.

The same may be said concerning links with the various Eastern Catholic Churches. The sacred liturgy celebrated in the rite of their own Church sui iuris is important as a safeguard of the spiritual identity of Catholic migrants of the East as is also the use of their languages in religious worship51.

47. Pastoral care has furthermore to give ample space, always in a liturgical perspective, for the particular condition of life of migrants, to the family, the “household Church”, to common prayer, to family Bible groups, and to the family’s response to the liturgical year (cf. EEu 78). The family blessings proposed in the Book of Blessings also deserve due attention52.

Today we are also witnessing a renewed commitment to involve families in preparing for the reception of the sacraments, which can bring fresh vitality to Christian communities. Through this, in fact, many young persons (cf. PaG 53) and adults are rediscovering the meaning and the value of ways that help give new strength to their faith and Christian life.

48. A particular danger to the faith comes from today’s religious pluralism, in the sense of relativism and syncretism in religious matters. To combat this danger it is necessary to prepare new pastoral initiatives that are capable of confronting this phenomenon which, together with the proliferation of sects53, is one of the most serious pastoral problems of today.

Catholic migrants

49. With regard to Catholic migrants the Church makes provision for a specific kind of pastoral care because of diversity of language, origin, culture, ethnicity and tradition, or of belonging to a particular Church sui iuris with its own rite. In fact, these factors often hinder a full and speedy insertion of immigrants into local territorial parishes, or it may be necessary to bear them in mind with the prospect of erecting parishes or a hierarchy for the faithful belonging to particular Churches sui iuris. The uprooting that moving abroad inevitably involves (from country of origin, family, language etc.) should not be made worse by uprooting the migrant from his religious rite or identity too.

50. When groups of immigrants are particularly numerous and homogeneous therefore, they are encouraged to keep up their specific Catholic traditions. In particular, efforts must be made to provide organised religious assistance by priests of the language, culture and rite of the migrants selecting the most suitable juridical option from among those foreseen by the CIC and the CCEO.

In any case it is not possible to over-emphasise the need for the closest communion between language-based missions and territorial parishes. It is also important to work for mutual knowledge, making use of all opportunities offered by ordinary pastoral work also to involve immigrants in the life of the parishes (cf. EEu 28).

In case immigrants are too few in number for a specific organised religious assistance, 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. Where immigrants are not significant in number, catechism and liturgical formation by religious and lay pastoral workers in close collaboration with chaplains/missionaries will prove to be particularly valuable (cf. EEu 51, 73 and also PaG 51).

51. Mention should also be made of the need to provide specific pastoral assistance for technicians, professional workers and foreign students temporarily resident in countries where the majority of the population is Muslim or of another faith. If left to themselves without any spiritual guide, these temporary migrants, instead of bearing Christian witness, may be the cause of erroneous judgments about Christianity. In saying this, we fully acknowledge the beneficial influence of thousands and thousands of Christians who do bear faithful witness in these countries, or of the return to their original homes, where Christians are in the minority, by former migrants of other religions who have been living in dominantly Catholic regions.

Eastern Rite Catholic migrants

52. Eastern Rite Catholic migrants, whose numbers are steadily increasing, deserve particular pastoral attention. In their regard we should first of all remember the juridical obligation of the faithful to observe their own rite everywhere insofar as possible, rite being understood as their liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary heritage (cf. CCEO Can. 28, §1 and PaG 72).

This means that “even though entrusted to the care of a hierarch or pastor of another Church sui iuris, they still remain inscribed as members of their own Church sui iuris” (CCEO Can. 38). Indeed even a prolonged practice of receiving the sacraments according to the rite of another Church sui iuris does not mean that they become members of that Church (cf. CIC Can. 112, §2). It is in fact forbidden “to change rites without the consent of the Apostolic See” (cf. CCEO Can. 32 and CIC Can. 112, §1).

Notwithstanding their right and duty to observe their own rite Eastern Catholic migrants also have the right to participate actively in the liturgical celebrations of any other Church sui iuris, including the Latin Church, in accordance with the prescriptions of its liturgical books (cf. CCEO Can. 403, §1).

Moreover the hierarchy must take care that those who have frequent contacts with the faithful of another rite should know that rite and respect it (cf. CCEO Can. 41). It will also be vigilant that no one should feel restricted in his freedom because of language or rite (cf. CCEO Can. 588).

53. In this line the Second Vatican Council (CD 23) decreed: “Where there are faithful of a different rite, the diocesan bishop should provide for their spiritual needs either through priests or parishes of that rite or through an episcopal vicar endowed with the necessary faculties. Wherever it is fitting, the last named should also have episcopal rank. Otherwise the Ordinary himself may perform the office of an Ordinary of different rites”. Moreover “one or more episcopal vicars can be named by the bishop. These automatically enjoy the same authority which the common law grants the vicar general … for the faithful of a determined rite” (CD 27).

54. In conformity with the Council’s decree, the CIC (Can. 383, §2) lays down that if the diocesan bishop “has faithful of a different rite in his diocese, he is to provide for their spiritual needs either through priests or parishes of the same rite or through an episcopal vicar”. The latter, in accordance with Can. 476 of the CIC, “posses[es] the same ordinary power which a vicar general has by universal law” regarding his relation with the faithful of a particular rite. After enunciating the principle of the territorial nature of a parish, the CIC (Can. 518) lays down in fact that “when it is expedient personal parishes are to be established, determined by reason of the rite”.

55. Whenever this is done, these parishes will juridically form an integral part of the Latin diocese, and the parish priests of the aforementioned rite will be members of the diocesan presbyterate of the Latin bishop. It should, however, be noted that although in the hypothesis foreseen in the above mentioned canons these faithful are living within the jurisdiction of the Latin bishop, it is opportune that before instituting personal parishes for them or designating a presbyter as assistant or parish priest or indeed episcopal vicar, the Latin bishop should take up contact both with the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and with the respective hierarchy, in particular with the Patriarch.

It should be recalled here that the CCEO (Can. 193, §3) lays down that when eparchs “constitute this kind of presbyter or parish priest or syncelli for the pastoral care of the Christians faithful of the patriarchal Churches”, they should “take up contact with the relevant Patriarchs and, if they agree, should then act on their own authority, informing the Apostolic See about this as soon as possible; if, however, for any reason the Patriarchs do not agree, then the matter must be referred to the Apostolic See”54. Although there is no explicit regulation corresponding to this in the CIC, it should nevertheless by analogy apply to Latin diocesan bishops too.

Migrants of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities

56. The growing number of Christian immigrants not in full communion with the Catholic Church offers particular Churches new possibilities of living ecumenical fraternity in practical day-to-day life and of achieving greater reciprocal understanding between Churches and ecclesial communities, something far from facile irenicism or proselytism. What is called for is a spirit of apostolic charity that, on the one hand respects other people’s consciences and recognises the good it discovers in them, but which can also wait for the moment to become an instrument for a deeper encounter between Christ and a brother. The Catholic faithful must not in fact forget that it is also a service and a sign of great love to welcome our brothers into full communion with the Church. In any case, however, “If priests, ministers or communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church do not have a place or the liturgical objects needed for celebrating worthily their religious ceremonies, the diocesan Bishop may allow them to use a church or a Catholic building and also lend them whatever may be necessary for their services. In similar circumstances permission may be given them for interment or for celebration of services at Catholic cemeteries”55.

57. Another matter to be remembered is that in certain circumstances it is legitimate for non-Catholics to receive the Eucharist together with Catholics, as confirmed also by the recent encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia. Thus “While it is never legitimate to concelebrate in the absence of full communion, the same is not true with respect to the administration of the Eucharist under special circumstances, to individual persons belonging to Churches or Ecclesial Communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church. In this case, in fact, the intention is to meet a grave spiritual need for the eternal salvation of an individual believer, not to bring about an intercommunion which remains impossible until the visible bonds of ecclesial communion are fully re-established. This was the approach taken by the Second Vatican Council when it gave guidelines for responding to Eastern Christians separated in good faith from the Catholic Church, who spontaneously ask to receive the Eucharist from a Catholic minister and are properly disposed [see OE 27]. This approach was then ratified by both Codes, which also consider – with necessary modifications – the case of other non-Eastern Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church (cf. CIC Can. 844, §§3-4 and CCEO Can. 671, §§3-4)”56.

58. At all events, there is to be particular reciprocal respect for the regulations of both sides as is made clear by the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism: “Catholics ought to show a sincere respect for the liturgical and sacramental discipline of other Churches and ecclesial Communities, and these … are asked to show the same respect for Catholic discipline”57.

In the case of migrants, these provisions and the “ecumenism of daily life” (PaG 64) cannot fail to have beneficial effects. Particular moments for ecumenical commitment could be the major liturgical feasts of the different denominations, the traditional World Days of Prayer for Peace, of Migrants and Refugees and the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Migrants of other religions, in general

59. Recent times have witnessed a growing increase in the presence of immigrants of other religions in traditionally Christian countries. Various pronouncements by the Magisterium, and in particular the encyclical Redemptoris Missio58 as also the Instruction Dialogue and Proclamation59, provide clear guidance on this question.

In the case of non-Christian immigrants, the Church is also concerned with their human development and with the witness of Christian charity, which itself has an evangelising value that may open hearts for the explicit proclamation of the gospel when this is done with due Christian prudence and full respect for the freedom of the other. In any case the migrant of another religion should be helped insofar as possible to preserve a transcendent view of life.

The Church is thus called upon to open a dialogue with these immigrants, and this “dialogue should be conducted and implemented in the conviction that the Church is the ordinary means of salvation and that she alone possesses the fullness of the means of salvation” (RMi 55; cf. also PaG 68).

60. This requires Catholic communities receiving immigrants to appreciate their own identity even more, prove their loyalty to Christ, know the contents of the faith well, rediscover their missionary calling and thus commit themselves to bear witness for Jesus the Lord and His gospel. This is the necessary prerequisite for the correct attitude of sincere dialogue, open and respectful of all but at the same time neither naivenor ill-equipped (cf. PaG 64 and 68).

It is the Christians’ task in particular to help immigrants find their place in the social and cultural context of their host country by accepting its civil laws (PaG 72). Above all, however, Christians are called upon with the witness of their lives to denounce certain negative aspects present in the rich industrialised countries (materialism and consumerism, moral relativism and religious indifferentism), which might shake the religious convictions of immigrants.

We hope that this commitment with regard to immigrants will not just be practised by individual Christians alone or by traditional aid organisations but may also be included in the overall programmes of ecclesial movements and lay associations of the faithful (cf. CfL 29).

Four matters calling for particular attention

61. To avoid misunderstandingsand confusion, and considering the religious diversity that we mutually recognise, and out of respect for sacred places and the religion of the other too, we do not consider it opportune for Christian churches, chapels, places of worship or other places reserved for evangelisation and pastoral work to be made available for members of non-Christian religions. Still less should they be used to obtain recognition of demands made on the public authorities. On the other hand spaces for social use, forfree-time activities, games and relaxation and the like, could and should be opened to persons of other religions, respecting the rules followed in these places. The social contacts made there would be an opportunity to favour the integration of the new arrivals and prepare cultural mediators capable of helping overcome cultural and religious barriers by promoting adequate reciprocal knowledge.

62. Catholic schools (cf. EEu 59 and PaG 52) must not renounce their own characteristics and Christian-oriented educational programmes when immigrants’ children of another religion are accepted60. Parents wishing to enrol their children should be clearly informed of this. At the same time no pupil must be compelled to take part in a Catholic liturgy or to perform actions contrary to his or her religious convictions.

Moreover religious instruction provided for in the school curriculum, if given with a scholastic character, may be useful to help pupils learn about a faith different from their own. In religious instruction, however, all must be educated to respect persons of different religious convictions but relativism must be avoided.

63. With regard to marriage between Catholics and non-Christian migrants, this should be discouraged, though to a varying degree, depending on the religion of each partner, with exceptions in special cases in accordance with the norms of the CIC and CCEO. It should in fact be remembered that, in the words of Pope John Paul II, “In families where both parents are Catholic, it is easier for them to share their common faith with their children. While acknowledging with gratitude interfaith marriages which succeeded in nourishing the faith of both spouses and children, the Synod encourages pastoral efforts to promote marriages between people of the same faith”61.

64. Finally, in relations between Christians and persons of other religions, the principle of reciprocity is important. It is to be understood not merely as an attitude for making claims but as a relationship based on mutual respect and on justice in juridical and religious matters. Reciprocity is also an attitude of heart and spirit that enables us to live together everywhere with equal rights and duties. Healthy reciprocity will urge each one to become an “advocate” for the rights of minorities when his or her own religious community is in the majority. In this respect we should also recall the numerous Christian migrants in lands where the majority of the population is not Christian and where the right to religious freedom is severely restricted or repressed.

Muslim migrants

65. Today, especially in certain countries, there is a high or growing percentage of Muslim immigrants, for whom this Pontifical Council also expresses its solicitude.

In this regard the Second Vatican Council indicates the attitude to be adopted in the spirit of the gospel, calling for a purification of memory regarding past misunderstandings, to cultivate common values and to clarify and respect diversity, but without renouncing Christian principles62. Catholic communities are therefore called upon to practise discernment. It is a question of distinguishing between what can be and cannot be shared in the religious doctrines and practices and in the moral laws of Islam.

66. Belief in God the Creator and the Merciful, daily prayer, fasting, alms-giving, pilgrimage, asceticism to dominate the passions, and the fight against injustice and oppression are common values to be found in Christianity too, though they may be expressed or manifested in a different manner. Beside these points of agreement there are, however, also divergences, some of which have to do with legitimate acquisitions of modern life and thought. Thinking in particular of human rights, we hope that there will be, on the part of our Muslim brothers and sisters, a growing awareness that fundamental liberties, the inviolable rights of the person, the equal dignity of man and woman, the democratic principle of government and the healthy lay character of the State are principles that cannot be surrendered. It will likewise be necessary to reach harmony between the vision of faith and the just autonomy of creation63.

67. When, for example, a Catholic woman and a Muslim wish to marry, bearing in mind what is stated in No. 63 and local pastoral judgements, bitter experience teaches us that a particularly careful and in-depth preparation is called for. During it the two fiancés will be helped to know and consciously “assume” the profound cultural and religious differences they will have to face, both between themselves and in relation to their respective families and the Muslim’s original environment, to which they may possibly return after a period spent abroad.

If the marriage is registered with a consulate of the Islamic country of origin, the Catholic party must beware of reciting or signing documents containing the shahada (profession of the Muslim belief).

In any case, the marriage between a Catholic and a Muslim, if celebrated in spite of all this, requires not only canonical dispensation but also the support of the Catholic community both before and after the marriage. One of the most important tasks of Catholic associations, volunteer workers and counselling serviceswill be to help these families educate their children and, if need be, to support the least protected member of the Muslim family, that is, the woman, to know and insist on her rights.

68. Finally as regards the baptism of the children, it is well known that the norms of the two religions are in stark contrast. The problem must therefore be raised with absolute clarity during the preparation for marriage, and the Catholic party must take a firm stand on what the Church requires. Conversion and the request for baptism by adult Muslims also require very careful attention, both because of the particular nature of the Muslim religion and the consequences that follow from this.

Interreligious dialogue

69. Societies today are more and more mixed as regards religion owing in part to migration. They thus require of Catholics a convinced willingness for true interreligious dialogue (cf. PaG 68). To this end both the ordinary Catholic faithful and pastoral workers in local Churches should receive solid formation and information on other religions so as to overcome prejudices, prevail over religious relativism and avoid unjustified suspicions and fears that hamper dialogue and erect barriers, even provoking violence or misunderstanding. Local Churches will take care to include such formation in the educational programmes of their seminaries, schools and parishes.

Dialogue among different religions must not, however, be understood as just looking for points in common so as to build peace together but above all as an occasion to rediscover convictions shared in each community. These include prayer, fasting, man’s fundamental vocation, openness to the Transcendent, the adoration of God and solidarity between nations64.

Nevertheless we ourselves must never renounce the proclamation – either explicit or implicit, according to circumstances – of salvation in Christ, the only Mediator between God and man. The whole work of the Church moves in this direction in such a way that neither fraternal dialogue nor the exchange and sharing of “human” values can diminish the Church’s commitment to evangelisation (cf. RMi 10-11 and PaG 30).

Part III

Workers in a Pastoral Care of Communion

In the home and the host Churches

70. To ensure that the pastoral care of migrants may be one of communion (that is, born from an ecclesiology of communion and serving a spirituality of communion), it is essential that the Churches of departure and arrival establish an intense collaboration with one another. This begins first in the reciprocal exchange of information on matters of common pastoral interest. It is unthinkable that these Churches should fail to dialogue with one another and systematically discuss, evenin periodic meetings, problems concerning thousands of migrants. Then for the better co-ordination of all pastoral activity in favour of immigrants, Episcopal Conferences should entrust it to a special Commission, with the appointment of a National Director to animate the corresponding diocesan commissions. When it is not possible to set up such a Commission, a Bishop Promoter should at least be entrusted with the co-ordination of the pastoral care of migrants. In this way spiritual assistance for persons far from their home country will appear as a clear ecclesial commitment, a pastoral task that cannot simply be left to the generosity of individuals, presbyters, religious men or women, or lay faithful, but sustained, even materially, by the local Churches (cf. also PaG 45).

71. Episcopal Conferences will likewise entrust to Catholic university faculties in their territories the task of studying the various aspects of migration more thoroughly for the benefit of concrete pastoral service for migrants. Compulsory courses of theological specialisation could also be programmed for this purpose.

In seminaries too, formation cannot now fail to take into account the world-wide phenomenon of migration. “Seminaries and Institutes of Higher Studies, in adapting their own curricula and methods, will enable their students to become acquainted with the various types of emigration (permanent or seasonal, international or internal), the reasons for which people move, the consequences of such mobility, the general outlines for adequate pastoral care in this field, the Pontifical Documents on the subject and also those of the local Churches”65.

In any event “the Quaderni universitari of the Pontifical Council [then Commission] for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and its magazine ‘[People] on the move’, together with other documents of the Magisterium published recently, will prove useful when initiating the teaching on emigration”66.

Finally the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Pastores dabo vobis, explicitly requires that the pastoral experience of seminarians should also be orientated towards nomads and migrants67.

72. The celebration of the World Day (or Week) of Migrants and Refugees will also be the occasion for a growing sense of urgency in commitment and for paying zealous attention to the specific topic proposed each year by the Supreme Pontiff in his Message. This Pontifical Council proposes that this day should be celebrated everywhere on one fixed date so as to help all to live together – at one and the same time – in the sight of God a day of prayer, action and sacrifice for the cause of migrants and refugees.

In addition to the World Day, an annual meeting of the bishop/eparch, possibly in his Cathedral, with all the ethnic groups present in the diocese/eparchy could prove to be of great significance. In some places where this event is already held, it is known as the “festival of peoples”.

The national co-ordinator for chaplains/missionaries

73. Among the pastoral workers in the service of the migrant, the National Co-ordinator is particularly important. He is meant to be a help more for the chaplains/missionaries of a certain language or country than for the migrants themselves. Likewise he is an expression of the Church ad quam in favour of the chaplains/missionaries themselves though he is not considered to be their representative. He is at the service of the chaplains/missionaries who receive the “declaration of suitability” – that is the rescript given by the Episcopal Conference a qua (cf. DPMC 36, 2) – in countries with a large number of immigrants coming from the same nation.

74. The activity of the National Co-ordinator towards the chaplains/missionaries is to exercise fraternal vigilance, to moderate and to act as a link between the various communities. He has no direct competence, however, over the migrants who, by reason of their domicile or semi-domicile, are subject to the jurisdiction of the ordinaries or hierarchs of the particular Churches or eparchies. He does not have jurisdiction over the chaplains/missionaries who, regarding the faculties and exercise of their ministry, are subject to the local ordinary, from whom they receive the relative faculties. The National Co-ordinator must therefore work in close contact with the national and diocesan directors of pastoral work for migrants.

The migrants’ chaplain/missionary

75. On the basis of previous Church documents dealing with this subject68, we would here stress above all the necessity of special preparation for specific pastoral work among migrants (cf. PaG 72), which entails an authentically missionary dimension and is eminently spiritual in purpose. Such a preparation is carried out in communion with and under the responsibility also of the local ordinary/hierarch of the country of origin.

76. In this connection it is to be noted that “the complexity and continuing evolution which are to be observed in the phenomenon of people on the move make necessary, in order to give direction and purpose to the pastoral activity, the work of complementary institutions, designed to keep track of this phenomenon and aim atan objective evaluation of it. This means pastoral centres for ethnic groups but above all interdisciplinary study centres, that is, ones which would collate the material necessary for the working out and putting into practise a pastoral strategy” (CMU 40). This research should also be useful as a guide for studies in seminaries, institutes of formation and pastoral centres and should be directly utilisable for the preparation of pastoral workers dealing with migration.

77. To be a chaplain/missionary for migrants eiusdem sermonis (of the same language) does not, however, mean to remain prisoner to one exclusive, national way of living and expressing the faith. If on the one hand we must emphasise the need for specific pastoral care based on the necessity to transmit the Christian message by cultural means that correspond to the formation and legitimate needs of the persons it is aimed at, on the other it is equally important to reaffirm that such specific pastoral care also requires openness to a new world and a sincere effort to find one’s place in it, the final goal being the full participation of the migrants in the life of the diocese. In this process the chaplain/missionary must be a bridge, linking the community of migrants to the host community. He is with them to build the Church, in communion first of all with the diocesan bishop/eparch and with his brothers in the priesthood, in particular with the parish priests who have the same pastoral work to perform (cf. DPMC 30, 3). To do this he needs to know and appreciate the culture of the place where he is called to perform his ministry, speak its language, be able to dialogue with the society he lives in and teach esteem and respect for the host country, even to the point of loving and defending it. So even though the migrants’ chaplain/missionary makes use of ethnic or linguistic considerations as the basis in exercisinghis ministry, he knows well that the pastoral care of migrants must also result in building up a Church that aims at being ecumenical and missionary (cf. RMi 10-11; DPMC 30, 2).

78. Those responsible for pastoral work among migrants should thus have a certain expertise in intercultural communication. The same also applies to those responsible for pastoral care on the local level since those coming from abroad cannot effect such cultural mediation on their own.

The principal tasks of the pastoral worker among immigrants are, above all, thus:

· 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;

· incarnating a missionary and evangelising spirit, by sharing the situation and conditions of migrants, with the ability to adapt and make personal contacts in an atmosphere of a clear witness of life.

Diocesan/eparchial presbyters as chaplains/missionaries

79. Chaplains/missionaries may be diocesan/eparchial presbyters (who normally remain incardinated in their own diocese/eparchy and go abroad temporarily to care for migrants) or religious presbyters. Both however, whether diocesan/eparchial or religious, take on the same mission, though their initial vocations may be different and complementary.

Diocesan/eparchial presbyters, exercising pastoral care in a diocese/eparchy where they are not incardinated are nevertheless integrated into it so that they form part of the diocesan/eparchial presbytery to all effects69. The same applies to religious presbyters. It cannot therefore be too strongly stressed that chaplains/missionaries remain united in fraternal harmony not only with the local ordinary/eparch,but also with the diocesan/eparchial clergy, especially with the parish priests. For that purpose, participation in priests’ meetings and those of the diocese/eparchy can be helpful, together with efforts to be present in gatherings for study of social, moral, liturgical and pastoral issues. These are a condition sine qua non for putting an authentic pastoral care into practice with mutual co-operation, solidarity and co-responsibility (cf. DPMC 42). It must also be an operative unity so as to be effective between migrants and the local population too. This kind of solidarity, in intention and in practice, will be an excellent example of adaptation and collaboration, and in this way mutual knowledge and respect of the cultural heritages of each one will be achieved.

Religious presbyters, brothers and sisters working among migrants

80. Religious presbyters, brothers and sisters have always played a primary role in pastoral work for migrants, and the Church has shown and continues to show great confidence in what they do. The Christian community recognises the vocation to the religious life as a special gift of the Spirit, which the Church welcomes, safeguards and interprets so as to make it grow and develop in accordance with its own dynamism70. The same Spirit in the course of history has also brought into being institutes whose specific goal is the apostolate to migrants71, each having its own organisation.

In this connection we feel duty-bound to remember the apostolate of religious women, so often dedicated to the pastoral care of migrants, with specific charisms and performing works of great pastoral importance. We would recall in particular the words of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata: “Likewise the future of re-evangelisation, as of all other forms of missionary activity, is unthinkable without a renewed contribution from women, especially consecrated women” (no. 57). Also: “It is therefore urgently necessary to take certain concrete steps, beginning by providing room for women to participate in different fields and at all levels, including decision-making processes, above all in matters which concern women themselves”72.

81. In addition to these religious institutes for the pastoral care of migrants, there are also others which, although it is not their specific charism, are cordially invited to take part in this responsibility. In fact “it will always be opportune and praiseworthy for them to devote themselves to the spiritual care of this category of the faithful, choosing especially those activities that best correspond to their nature and aims” (DPMC 53, 2). This is the practical application of one of the Council’s directives, because “in view of the urgent need of souls and the scarcity of diocesan clergy, religious communities which are not dedicated exclusively to the contemplative life can be called upon by the bishops to assist in various pastoral ministries. They should, however, keep in mind the particular character of each community. Superiors should encourage this work to the utmost, by accepting parishes even on a temporary basis” (CD 35).

82. But if all religious institutes are called upon to keep in mind human mobility in their pastoral work, then they should give generous consideration to the possibility of sending some of their own members, men or women, to work in the field of migration. Many of them in fact could make an appreciable contribution to the spiritual care of migrants because they have members with different types of training, coming from various countries, whom it would be relatively simple to transfer abroad.

It is particularly in the field of migration that the role attributed to religious institutes in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi stands out clearly. In fact “by their lives they are sign of total availability to God, the Church and the brethren. As such they have a special importance in the context of the witness which … is of prime importance in evangelisation. At the same time as being a challenge to the world and to the Church herself, this silent witness of poverty and abnegation, of purity and sincerity, of self-sacrifice in obedience, can become an eloquent witness capable of touching also non-Christians who have good will and are sensitive to certain values” (EN 69).

83. This need for pastoral attention is emphasised in the Instruction of 25th March 1987, dealing with pastoral commitment for migrants and refugees, published jointly by the Congregation for the Religious and Secular Institutes and the Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migration and Tourism and addressed to all men and women superiors general. This appeal to religious institutes for a particular commitment in favour of migrants and refugees is deeply motivated by what could be described as an affinity between the intimate expectations of these people, uprooted from their homelands, and the religious life. Theirs are the expectations, often unexpressed, of the poor with no prospect of security, of outcasts often mortified in their longing for fraternity and communion. When offered by those who have voluntarily chosen to live in poverty, chastity and obedience, this solidarity is not only a support in their difficult situation but also a witness to values that can enkindle hope in sad situations (cf. no. 8). Here, then, is an urgent invitation to all institutes of consecrated life and to all societies of apostolic life to be generous in widening the horizons of their work with a truly missionary dimension, an appeal that should be considered especially by religious congregations whose specific goal is missionary73.

84. There is no doubt that today many religious institutes are more and more aware that the migration problem represents more or less a challenge to their charisms. But so that this spiritual awareness and the appeals of the Church’s magisterium may take on concrete form, we would suggest here to superiors general that they collaborate generously with pastoral workers for migrants and refugees by assigning some of their own members to work in this sector, backed up by the solidarity and collaboration of the entire religious community. Perhaps they might also make available for this work, either permanently or for a certain period, some part of their buildings that would otherwise remain unused.

We would further suggest that, in their circular letters to their members and in their meetings, superiors should from time to time focus on the urgency of the problem of migrants and refugees, drawing attention to Church documents and the words of the Holy Father. They might also care to bring up this matter on the occasion of general or provincial chapters and during courses of updating and permanent formation. Future presbyters too should at least consider the possibility of preparing themselves to exercise their ministry, or part of it, among migrants74.

85. As regards the practical life of men and women religious working for migrants, it should be stressed as a fundamental criterion that the religious life as such must be safeguarded and appreciated in its inspiration and in its particular forms. It is in itself the image of perfect charity, a charism whose treasures are of benefit to the whole community. Pastoral care for migrants undoubtedly needs religious communities, but these in turn must be able to live and work in observance of and adhesion to their own constitutional norms. This is stated quite clearly in Mutuae Relationes: “In this hour of cultural evolution and ecclesial renewal, therefore, it is necessary to preserve the identity of each institute so securely, that the danger of an ill-defined situation be avoided, lest religious, failing to give due consideration to the particular mode of action proper to their character, become part of the life of the Church in a vague and ambiguous way” (MR 11).

The laity, lay associations and ecclesial movements: for an engagement among migrants

86. In both the Church and society the lay faithful, lay associations and ecclesial movements, with all the diversity of their charisms and ministries, are called to bear Christian witness and to be in the service of migrants too75. 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 (cf. PaG 51).

In a Church that strives to be entirely missionary-ministerial, urged by the Spirit, respect for the gifts of all must be given prominence. In this matter the lay faithful enjoy areas of rightful autonomy, but they also take on typical tasks of diakonia, such as visiting the sick, helping the elderly, leading youth groups, animating family associations, teaching catechism and holding courses of professional qualification, working in schools and in administration and, furthermore, helping in the liturgy and in “consultation centres”, in prayer meetings and in meditation on the Word of God.

87. Other and more specific tasks for the lay faithful are in trade unions and in the world of labour, advising about and writing out laws aimed at facilitating reunification of migrants with their families and assuring them equal rights and opportunities. This means giving them access to essential goods, work and wages, home and school and enabling them to participate in the life of civil society (elections, associations, recreational activities, etc.).

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 or helping them in view of a possible return to their home country. In this context particular attention would need to be paid to foreign students.

88. In this connection the lay faithful, too, need systematic formation (cf. PaG 51), meant not just as transmitting of ideas and concepts but, above all, as a help – surely in an intellectual sense too – for them to bear the witness of an authentic Christian life. Ethnic and linguistic communities too are called to be places of education even before being centres of organisation, and in this widening view of things space will be given for ongoing and systematic formation.

The Christian witness of the laity in building the Kingdom of God certainly heads the list of a host of important questions, including the relation of the Church and the world, faith and life, and charity and justice.

Part IV

The Structures of Missionary Pastoral Care

Unity in plurality: the problems

89. There are many reasons why the specific care of migrants should be more deeply integrated into the pastoral care of particular Churches (cf. DPMC 42). The person primarily responsible for this is the diocesan/eparchial bishop who, in full respect for the migrants’ diversity and spiritual and cultural patrimony, goes beyond the limits of uniformity (cf. PaG 65 and 72), distinguishing the territorial character of the spiritual care of the faithful from that of care based on belonging to ethnic, linguistic, cultural and ritual groups.

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” (CMU 19).

In that way, in the Spirit of Pentecost, the particular Church will contribute to the foundation of a new society, in which the different languages and cultures no longer constitute inviolable confines, as after Babel, but in which this very diversity can realize a new manner of communication and communion (cf. PaG 65).

Pastoral work among migrants thus becomes a service of the Church for the faithful whose language or culture is different from those of the host country, while at the same time it ensures that the foreign communities make their own contribution to the construction of a Church that must be a sign and instrument of unity in the prospect of a renewed humanity. It is this vision that has to be deepened and assimilated also to avoid possible tensions between indigenous parishes and chaplaincies for immigrants, between indigenous presbyters and chaplains/missionaries. In all this, consideration should also be given to the classic distinction between first, second and third generations of migrants, each one having its own characteristics and specific problems.

90. Today the problem of helping migrants find their place in the Church is mainly on two planes: one is canonical and structural, and the other theological and pastoral.

Human mobility today is on a world-wide scale. In the long run this certainly means going beyond pastoral care that is generally mono-ethnic, as both chaplaincies/missions for foreigners and the territorial parishes of host countries have been up to now, this in view of a pastoral approach based on dialogue and constant mutual collaboration.

Regarding chaplaincies/missions for persons of a different culture or language, we should note that the classic pastoral expression Missio cum cura animarum was basically linked, in the past, to immigration that was temporary or at any rate going through a settling-in period. Today this solution should no longer be the almost exclusive pastoral option for immigrant communities that live at various levels of integration in their host country. In other words, new structures need to be thought out that, on the one hand, will be more “stable”, with a more consequent juridical form in the particular Churches, and, on the other, will still be flexible and open to mobile or temporary immigration. It is no easy matter, but this already seems to be the challenge for the future.

Pastoral structures

91. Always bearing in mind that the migrants themselves must be the first protagonists of pastoral care, we can envisage suitable solutions both in the sphere of ethnic-linguistic pastoral care and of integrated pastoral care (cf. PaG 72).

In the first sphere, we would first of all draw attention, here, to some dynamics and pastoral structures, beginning with the Missio cum cura animarum, the classic formula for communities still being built up, applied to ethnic/national groups or those of a given rite that have not yet settled down. Even in such chaplaincies/missions more and more emphasis will have to be laid on interethnic and intercultural relations.

On the other hand, a personal ethnic-linguistic parish or one based on a particular rite is foreseen for places where there is an immigrant community that will continually have newcomers even in the future, and where that community is numerically strong. It maintains the typical characteristic service of a parish (proclamation of the Word, catechesis, liturgy, diakonia) and will be concerned above all with recent immigrants, seasonal workers or those coming by turns, and with others who for various reasons have difficulty in finding their place in the existent territorial structures.

We can also envisage the case of a local parish with an ethnic-linguistic mission or with one based on a particular rite. This is identified with a territorial parish which, with the help of one or more pastoral workers, would take care of one or more groups of immigrant faithful. The chaplain here would be part of the parish team.

There can likewise be an ethnic-linguistic pastoral service on a zonal level, understood as pastoral care for immigrants who are relatively well integrated in the local society. It seems important indeed to keep certain elements of pastoral care based on language or linked to nationality or a particular rite. That would guarantee essential services, including those related to a particular type of culture and piety, and at the same time promote openness and interaction among the territorial community and the various ethnic groups.

92. At all events when the canonical erection of such stable structures for pastoral care appears difficult or inopportune, this does not diminish the duty to help Catholic immigrants pastorally in whatever manner seems best in view of circumstances, even without specific canonical institutions. Informal, perhaps spontaneous, pastoral arrangements deserve to be recognised and encouraged within ecclesial circumscriptions, independently of how many people benefit from them, if only to avoid the danger of improvisation and isolated and unsuited pastoral workers or even of sects.

Integrated pastoral care and its various sectors

93. Integrated pastoral care is here to be understood above all as communion that knows how to appreciate belonging to different cultures and peoples. This is in response to the Father’s plan of love, who in building His Kingdom of peace – through Christ, with Christ and in Christ – by the power of the Spirit, interweaves the historical, complex and often contradictory vicissitudes of humanity (cf. NMI 43).

On this basis we can envisage:

· the intercultural and interethnic or inter-ritual parish, providing pastoral assistance for both the local population and foreigners resident in the same territory. In this way the traditional territorial parish would become the privileged and stable place of interethnic and intercultural experience, while the individual groups would retain a certain autonomy. Or

· the local parish with a service for migrants of one or more ethnic groups, of one or more rites. This would be a territorial parish made up of the local population but whose church or parish centre would be a point of reference, meeting and community life for one or more foreign communities too.

94. Finally we could envisage certain environments, structures or specific pastoral sectors that are dedicated to animation and formation at various levels in the world of migrants. We have in mind:

· Centres for pastoral work among young persons and for vocational orientation, with the task of furthering initiatives to this end;

· Centres for the formation of the laity and pastoral workers, in a multicultural perspective;

· Centres for study and pastoral reflection, with the task of observing the evolution of the migration phenomenon and presenting suitable pastoral proposals to those in charge.

Pastoral units

95. Pastoral units76, which came into being some time ago in some dioceses, might in future constitute a pastoral platform for the apostolate among immigrants too. They manifest that the parish-territory relationship is slowly changing. It can be observed that services for the spiritual assistance of the faithful are increasing in number and going beyond parish boundaries, new legitimate forms of ministry are emerging, and, last but not least, the migrants’ “diaspora” is steadily growing in importance and spreading geographically.

Pastoral units will have the desired effect if they operate above all in the context of overall, integrated and organic pastoral work. In this framework the ethnic-linguistic chaplaincies/missions and those for specific rites can likewise be fully accepted. The requirements of communion and co-responsibility have to be manifest concretely, not only in relations between persons and different groups but also in the relations between local parish communities and ethnic-linguistic or ritual ones.


Universal Mission

Semina Verbi (Seeds of the Word)

96. Today’s migrations constitute the greatest movement of persons, if not of peoples, of all time. They bring us into contact with men and women, our brothers and sisters, who for economic, cultural, political or religious reasons have left or have been compelled to leave their homes and end up, for the most part, in refugee camps, in a soulless megalopolis and in slums on the outskirts of cities, where they often share the marginalisation of the unemployed, the ill-adjusted youth, and abandoned women. The migrant thirsts for some gesture that will make him feel welcome, recognised and acknowledged as a person. Even just a simple greeting is one of these.

In answer to this yearning men and women of the consecrated life, communities, lay associations and ecclesial movements as well as pastoral workers should feel above all the duty to educate Christians to welcome, solidarity and openness to foreigners, so that migration may become more and more a “significant” factor for the Church, and the faithful may discover the semina Verbi (seeds of the Word) found in different cultures and religions77.

97. In the Christian community born of Pentecost, migration is an integral part of the Church’s life, clearly expresses its universality, promotes communion within it, and influences its growth. Migration thus offers the Church an historic opportunity to prove its four characteristic marks: the Church is one because in a certain sense it also expresses the unity of the whole human family; it is holy also to make all people holy and that God’s name may be sanctified in them; it is catholic furthermore in its openness to diversity that is to be harmonised; and it is likewise apostolic because it is also committed to evangelise the whole human person and all people.

It is thus clear that the Church’s missionary calling is not determined only by geographic distances but by differences of culture and religion. “Mission” is thus going out to every person to proclaim Jesus Christ and, in Christ and the Church, to bring him into communion with all humanity.

Builders of communion

98. Once the emergency phase has passed and migrants are settled in their host country, the chaplain/missionary will try to widen his own horizon and become a “deacon of communion”. Being a foreigner he will be a living reminder for the local Church, in all its components, of its characteristic catholicity, and the pastoral structures he serves will be a sign, poor though it may be, of a particular Church committed in practice to a path of universal communion, with respect for legitimate diversities.

99. In this regard all lay faithful too, though they may not have any special functions or tasks, are to embark on the journey of communion, which implies accepting legitimate diversity. Undoubtedly the defence of Christian values also means no discrimination against immigrants, above all through a vigorous spiritual renewal of the faithful themselves. Fraternal dialogue and mutual respect, the living testimony of love and welcome, thus constitute in themselves the first and indispensable form of evangelisation.

A dialoguing and missionary spirit in pastoral care

100. Particular Churches are thus called for the gospel’s sake to a better welcome for migrants through pastoral initiatives that include meeting them and dialoguing with them as well as helping the faithful to overcome prejudices and biases. In contemporary society, to which migration contributes by making it more and more multiethnic, intercultural and multireligious, Christians are called to face a substantially new and fundamental chapter in the missionary task: that of being missionary in countries of long Christian tradition (cf. PaG 65 and 68). With great respect and attention for the migrants’ traditions and culture, we Christians are called to bear witness to the gospel of love and peace in our dealings with them and also to proclaim the Word of God explicitly to them so that the blessing of the Lord, promised to Abraham and his descendants for ever, may reach them.

Because it is dialogue, communion and mission, specific pastoral care for, among and with migrants will then become a significant expression of the Church, called to be a fraternal and peaceful meeting place, a home for all, a building sustained by the four pillars referred to by Blessed Pope John XXIII in Pacem in Terris, namely, truth and justice, love and freedom78, the fruit of that paschal event that in Christ has reconciled everything and everybody. Thus the Church will manifest clearly that it is a home and school of communion (cf. NMI 43) accepted and shared, of reconciliation requested and given, of mutual, fraternal welcome and of authentic human and Christian development. In this way, “ever more affirmed [is the knowledge of] the innate universality of the Church’s organisation, in which no one can be considered a stranger or just a guest, or in any way on the fringe of things” (CMU 29).

The Church and Christians, sign of hope

101. Faced with the vast movement of people, with the phenomenon of human mobility, considered by some as the new “credo” of contemporary man, faith reminds us how we are all pilgrims on our way towards our true homeland. “Christian life is essentially a living through the Passover with Christ, or a journey, a sublime migration towards total Communion of the Kingdom of God” (CMU 10). All the history of the Church illustrates its passion and its holy zeal for this humanity on the move.

The “foreigner” is God’s messenger who surprises us and interrupts the regularity and logic of daily life, bringing near those who are far away. In “foreigners” the Church sees Christ who “pitches His tent among us” (cf. Jn 1:14) and who “knocks at our door” (cf. Ap 3:20). This meeting – characterised by attention, welcome, sharing and solidarity, by the protection of the rights of migrants and of commitment to evangelise – reveals the constant solicitude of the Church, which discovers authentic values in migrants and considers them a great human resource.

102. 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 harmony79. And notwithstanding the repeated failures of human projects, noble as they may have been, Christians, roused by the phenomenon of mobility, become aware of their call to be always and repeatedly a sign of fraternity and communion in the world, by respecting differences and practising solidarity, in their ethics of meeting others.

103. 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, as asserted by the Vicar of Christ: “Migrations offer individual local Churches the opportunity to verify their catholicity, which consists not only in welcoming different ethnic groups, but above all in creating communion with them and among them. Ethnic and cultural pluralism in the Church is not just something to be tolerated because it is transitory, it is a structural dimension. The unity of the Church is not given by a common origin and language but by the Spirit of Pentecost which, bringing together men and women of different languages and nations in one people, confers on them all faith in the same Lord and the calling to the same hope”80.

104. May the Virgin Mother, who together with her Blessed Son knew the pain of emigration and exile, help us to understand the experience, and very often the drama, of those who are compelled to live far from their homeland, and teach us to serve them in their necessities, truly accepting them as brothers and sisters, so that today’s migrations may be considered a call, albeit a mysterious one, to the Kingdom of God, which is already present in His Church, its beginning (cf. LG 9), and an instrument of Providence to further the unity of the human family and peace81.

Juridical Pastoral Regulations


Art. 1

§1. To the right of the faithful to receive the help that derives from the spiritual wealth of the Church, especially the Word of God and the sacraments (CIC Can. 213, CCEO Can. 16), there is a corresponding duty on the part of pastors to provide such help, in particular to migrants, in view of their particular condition of life.

§2. Since with their domicile or quasi-domicile migrants are canonically part of a parish and diocese/eparchy (CIC Can. 100-107; CCEO Can. 911-917), it is the duty of the parish priest and the diocesan or eparchial bishop to extend to them the same pastoral care as is due to their own autochthonous subjects.

§3. Moreover, especially when groups of immigrants are numerous, the Churches of their origin have the responsibility of co-operating with the Churches of arrival to facilitate efficacious and suitable pastoral assistance.

Chapter I


Art. 2

§1. In fulfilling their specific tasks, the lay faithful should be engaged in concretely carrying out what truth, justice and love require. They should thus welcome migrants as brothers and sisters and do all they can to ensure that their rights, especially those concerning the family and its unity, are recognised and protected by the civil authorities.

§2. The lay faithful are also called to promote the evangelisation of the migrants through the witness of their own lives as Christians, living in faith, hope and love, and by the proclamation of the Word of God in ways that are possible and suitable for them. This commitment is even more necessary where migrants are without religious assistance because their places of residence are distant or dispersed or because of the shortage of clergy. In such cases the lay faithful should be concerned about seeking migrants out and directing them to the church of the area and in offering their own help to the chaplains/missionaries and parish priests so as to facilitate their contacts with the migrants.

Art. 3

§1. The faithful who decide to live with another people should strive to esteem the cultural patrimony of the nation that welcomes them, to contribute to its common good and to spread the faith especially by the example of Christian life.

§2. Where migrants are more numerous they, in particular, should be offered the possibility of taking part in the diocesan/eparchial and parochial pastoral councils, so as to really take their place in the particular Church’s structures of participation.

§3. While maintaining the right of migrants to have their own associations, at the same time everything should be done to facilitate their participation in local associations.

§4. The lay faithful who are culturally better prepared and spiritually more available should furthermore be urged and trained to take on a specific service as pastoral workers in close collaboration with the chaplains/missionaries.

Chapter II


Art. 4

§1. Presbyters, who have been given the mandate by the competent ecclesiastical authority to provide spiritual assistance in a stable way to migrants of the same language or nation, or belonging to the same Church sui iuris, are called chaplains/missionaries for migrants; in virtue of their office they are endowed with the faculties described in Can. 566, §1 of the CIC.

§2. This office should be conferred on a presbyter who has been well prepared by a suitable period of formation and who for reasons of virtue, culture and knowledge of the language and other moral and spiritual gifts, demonstrates that he is a suitable person for this particular and difficult task.

Art. 5

§1. To those presbyters who wish to devote themselves to the spiritual assistance of migrants, the diocesan or eparchial bishop should give authorisation to do so if he considers them suited to this mission, in accordance with what is laid down in CIC Can. 271 and CCEO Can. 361-362 and in these present juridical pastoral regulations.

§2. Presbyters, who have obtained due permission as explained in the preceding paragraph, should make themselves available to the Episcopal Conference ad quam, furnished with the relevant document granted to them by their own diocesan or eparchial bishop and their own Episcopal Conference, or by the competent hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The Episcopal Conference ad quam will then ensure that these presbyters are entrusted to the diocesan or eparchial bishop or to the bishops of the dioceses or eparchies concerned, who will appoint them chaplains/missionaries to the migrants.

§3. As far as religious presbyters who dedicate themselves to assisting migrants are concerned, the specific norms contained in Chapter III have to be applied.

Art. 6

§1. When it is deemed necessary to erect a personal parish, in view of the number of migrants or the opportuneness of providing them with special pastoral care corresponding to their needs, in doing so the diocesan or eparchial bishop shall clearly establish the confines of this parish and the rules regarding the parish books. Whenever the possibility exists, it should be kept in mind that the migrants are free to choose whether they wish to belong to the territorial parish where they are living or to the personal parish.

§2. The presbyter entrusted with a personal parish for migrants enjoys the faculties and obligations of a parish priest; what is stated here about chaplains/missionaries for migrants applies to him unless the nature of things requires otherwise.

Art. 7

§1 The diocesan or eparchial bishop may also erect a missio cum cura animarum in the territory of one or more parishes, clearly defining its terms of reference. It may or may not be annexed to a territorial parish.

§2. The chaplain entrusted with a missio cum cura animarum, always observing due distinctions, is juridically equivalent to a parish priest and performs his functions together with the local parish priest. He likewise has the faculty to assist at the celebration of a marriage when one of the spouses is a migrant belonging to his mission.

§3. In the case mentioned in the preceding paragraph, the chaplain is obliged to fill in the parish register as required by law and to send an authentic copy at the end of every year both to the local parish priest and to the pastor of the parish in which the marriage was celebrated.

§4. Presbyters assigned as coadjutors to a chaplain who has been entrusted with a missio cum cura animarum have, always observing due distinctions, the same tasks and faculties as parochial vicars.

§5. If circumstances render it opportune, a missio cum cura animarum, erected in the territory of one or more parishes, may be annexed to a territorial parish, especially when the latter is entrusted to members of the same institute of consecrated life or society of apostolic life as those who are caring for the spiritual assistance of the migrants.

Art. 8

§1. To every chaplain of migrants, even if not entrusted with a missio cum cura animarum, in so far as possible, a church or oratory should be assigned for the exercise of his sacred ministry. In the contrary case, the competent diocesan or eparchial bishop shall issue opportune instructions authorising the chaplain/missionary to exercise his spiritual duties freely, and together with the local parish priest, in a church, not excluding the one of the parish.

§2. Diocesan or eparchial bishops shall ensure that the tasks of migrants’ chaplains/missionaries are coordinated with the office of the parish priests and that the latter should accept and help them (cf. CIC Can. 571). It is also fitting that some chaplains/missionaries for migrants be called to be members of the diocesan presbyteral council.

Art. 9

Unless there are explicit agreements to the contrary between the diocesan or eparchial bishops, the one who has erected the mission, for which the chaplain exercises his ministry, is to guarantee him the same economic conditions and insurance coverage as enjoyed by the other presbyters of the diocese or eparchy.

Art. 10

For the duration of his appointment the chaplain/missionary for migrants is subject to the jurisdiction of the diocesan or eparchial bishop who erected the mission for which he performs his office, both as regards the exercise of his sacred ministry and also the observance of Church discipline.

Art. 11

§1. In countries in which there are numerous chaplains/missionaries for migrants of the same language, it is opportune that one of them should be appointed national co-ordinator.

§2. In consideration that the co-ordinator’s responsibility is to co-ordinate the ministry and service of the chaplains/missionaries operating within a particular nation, he acts on behalf of the Episcopal Conference ad quam, by whose president he is appointed after consultation with the Episcopal Conference a qua.

§3. The co-ordinator shall generally be chosen from among the chaplains/missionaries of the same nationality or language.

§4. The co-ordinator does not enjoy any power of jurisdiction in virtue of his office.

§5. In view of his office the co-ordinator has the duty of maintaining relations both with the diocesan and eparchial bishops of the country a quo and with those of the country ad quem.

§6. It is opportune to discuss matters with the co-ordinators when appointing, transferring or replacing chaplains/missionaries, and also when envisaging the erection of a new mission.

Chapter III


Art. 12

§1. All institutes, in which religious of various nations are often present, can make their contribution to assistance for migrants. Ecclesiastical authorities should therefore encourage in particular the work done by those who, under the seal of religious vows, have the apostolate to migrants as their own specific goal or who have acquired appreciable experience in that field.

§2. The help offered by women’s religious institutes to the apostolate among migrants should also be appreciated and valued. The diocesan or eparchial bishop shall therefore ensure that these institutes, with full respect for their own rules and bearing in mind their obligations and their charism, lack neither the spiritual assistance nor the material means necessary for them to carry out their mission.

Art. 13

§1. In general whenever a diocesan or eparchial bishop intends to entrust the care of migrants to a religious institute, with due respect for the customary canonical norms, he will draw up a written agreement with the superior of that institute. If more than one diocese or eparchy is involved, the agreement must be signed by every diocesan or eparchial bishop. The role of co-ordinating these initiatives belongs to the competent commission of the Episcopal Conference or the corresponding hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

§2. If the pastoral care of migrants is entrusted to an individual religious, it is always necessary first to obtain the consent of his superior and in this case too to draw up the relative agreement in writing; in other words, taking into consideration due distinctions, the procedure is the same as that laid down in Art. 5 for diocesan presbyters.

Art. 14

As regards carrying out their apostolate among migrants and itinerant people, all religious are bound to obey the dispositions of the diocesan or eparchial bishop. Even in the case of institutes with the specific goal of assisting migrants, everything done and all initiatives taken in the migrants’ favour are subject to the authority and direction of the diocesan or eparchial bishop, allowing however for the right of superiors to watch over the religious life and the zeal with which their members carry out their ministry.

Art. 15

Everything laid down in this chapter about religious is applicable, respecting due distinctions, to societies of apostolic life and to secular institutes.

Chapter IV


Art. 16

§1. The diocesan or eparchial bishop shall devote special care to migrant faithful, above all by supporting the pastoral action in their favour performed by parish priests and the chaplains/missionaries for immigrants. In this he shall ask any necessary help from the migrants’ Churches of origin, or from other institutions devoted to spiritual assistance for migrants, and also provide for the creation of pastoral structures best adapted to the circumstances and pastoral needs. If necessary, the diocesan or eparchial bishop shall appoint an episcopal vicar with the charge of directing the pastoral care of migrants, or else he shall set up a special office for the migrants themselves at the episcopal or eparchial chancery.

§2. Since the spiritual care of the faithful is the duty in primis of the diocesan or eparchial bishop, it is his responsibility to erect personal parishes and missiones cum cura animarum and to appoint chaplains/missionaries. The diocesan or eparchial bishop shall ensure that the territorial parish priest and the presbyters entrusted with migrants move forward together in a spirit of collaboration and understanding.

§3. The diocesan or eparchial bishop, in accordance with CIC Can. 383 and CCEO Can. 193, shall also provide for spiritual assistance to migrants of another Church sui iuris, supporting the pastoral work of presbyters of the same rite or of other presbyters, and observing the relevant canonical norms.

Art. 17

§1. With regard to Christian migrants not in full communion with the Catholic Church, the diocesan or eparchial bishop shall have an attitude of charity, promoting ecumenism as understood by the Church and offering these immigrants the spiritual help that is possible and necessary, respecting the norms concerning communicatio in sacris and the legitimate desiderata of their pastors.

§2. The diocesan or eparchial bishop shall also consider unbaptised migrants as entrusted to him in the Lord and, with respect for their freedom of conscience, shall offer them too the possibility of coming to the truth that is Christ.

Art. 18

§1. The diocesan or eparchial bishops of the countries a quibus shall remind parish priests of their serious duty to provide for all the faithful a religious formation such that, if the case may be, they will be able to face the difficulties connected with their departure for emigration.

§2. The diocesan or eparchial bishops of the places a quibus shall moreover take it upon themselves to seek out diocesan/eparchial presbyters who are suited for pastoral care with emigrants, and they shall not neglect to enter into close relations with the Episcopal Conference or the corresponding hierarchical structure of the Eastern Catholic Church of the nation ad quam in order to help in pastoral work.

§3. Even in dioceses/eparchies or regions where it is not immediately necessary for seminarians to specialise in the field of migration, the problems of human mobility should be taken more and more into account in the teaching of theology, especially pastoral theology.

Chapter V


Art. 19

§1. In countries to which migrants go, or which they leave, in larger numbers, the Episcopal Conferences and the competent hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches shall set up a special national commission for migration. It will have its secretary, who in general will take on the office of national director for migration. It is very opportune that religious should be present on this commission as experts, especially those working for the spiritual assistance of migrants, as well as lay faithful qualified in this matter.

§2. In other countries where there are fewer migrants, the Episcopal Conferences or the corresponding hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches shall appoint a bishop promoter to ensure that migrants are properly assisted.

§3. Episcopal Conferences and the corresponding hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches will inform the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People of the composition of the commission described in the first paragraph or the name of the bishop promoter.

Art. 20

§1. It is the duty of the Migration Commission or the bishop promoter:

1. to gather information on the migration situation in the country and to pass on useful data to the diocesan/eparchial bishops, also in contact with the centres for migration studies;

2. to animate and stimulate the relevant diocesan commissions, which in turn will do the same with respect to those parochial commissions concerned with the vast and more general phenomenon of human mobility;

3. to receive requests for chaplains/missionaries from the bishops of dioceses/eparchies in which there is immigration, and introduce to them the presbyters proposed for this ministry;

4. to propose to the Episcopal Conference and the corresponding hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches, when necessary, the appointment of a national coordinator for the chaplains/missionaries;

5. to establish opportune contacts with Episcopal Conferences and the corresponding hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches concerned;

6. to establish opportune contacts with the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and to pass on indications received from the Council to the diocesan or eparchial bishops;

7. to send an annual report on the situation of the pastoral care of migrants to the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, to the Episcopal Conference, to the corresponding hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches, and also to the diocesan/eparchial bishops.

§2. It is the task of the national director:

1. to facilitate in general – also in reference to Art. 11 – the relations of the bishops of his own country with the national commission or with the bishop promoter;

2. to compile the report mentioned in point 7, §1 of this Article.

Art. 21

In order to arouse the awareness of all the faithful to their duty of fraternity and charity towards migrants and to collect the necessary economic aid to fulfil pastoral obligations towards them, the Episcopal Conferences and the corresponding hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches shall fix a date for a “Day (or Week) of Migrants and Refugees” at a time and in the manner called for by local circumstances, even if for the future it is to be hoped that a fixed date can be agreed upon for its celebration everywhere.

Chapter VI


Art. 22

§1. It is the task of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People to guide “the pastoral solicitude of the Church to the particular needs of those who have been forced to abandon their homeland as well as those who have none. Consequently the Council closely follows all questions pertaining to this matter” (PB 149). Moreover “the Council is committed to assuring that particular Churches offer efficacious and relevant spiritual assistance to refugees and exiles, by setting up adequatepastoral structures when necessary, as well as to migrants” (PB 150, 1), always however with due respect for the pastoral responsibility of local Churches and the competence of other organs of the Roman Curia.

§2. It is therefore the duty of the Pontifical Council among other things:

1. to study the reports sent in by Episcopal Conferences or the corresponding hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches;

2. to issue instructions, referred to by Can. 34 of the CIC, to make suggestions and encourage initiatives, activities and programmes to develop structures and institutions relating to the pastoral care of migrants;

3. to promote exchange of information among the different Episcopal Conferences or of that coming from the corresponding hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches, and to facilitate their relations with one another, especially when it is a matter of transferring a presbyter from one nation to another for the pastoral care of migrants;

4. to study, encourage, and animate the pastoral activity of regional and continental organisms of ecclesial communion to co-ordinate and harmonise initiatives in favour of migrants;

5. to study situations to evaluate if, in determined places, there are circumstances that may suggest specific pastoral structures for migrants (cf. no. 24, note 23);

6. to promote the relations of religious institutes that offer spiritual assistance to migrants with the Episcopal Conferences and the corresponding hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches and to follow their work, always with due respect for the competence of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, in matters regarding the observance of the religious life, and the competence of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches;

7. to stimulate and participate in useful or necessary initiatives in view of a profitable and sound ecumenical collaboration in the field of migration, in agreement with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity;

8. to stimulate and participate in those initiatives that are considered necessary or advantageous for dialogue with groups of non-Christian migrants, in agreement with the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

Notwithstanding any contrary dispositions.

On the 1st of May 2004, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker, the Holy Father approved the present Instruction of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and authorized its publication.

Rome, from the offices of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, on the 3rd of May 2004, Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles.

Stephen Fumio Cardinal Hamao

+ Agostino Marchetto
Titular Archbishop of Astigi


AA Apostolicam actuositatem (II Vatican Council)
AAS Acta Apostolicae Sedis
AG Ad Gentes (II Vatican Council)
CCEO Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium
CD Christus Dominus (II Vatican Council)
CfL Christifideles Laici (Pope John Paul II)
CIC Codex Iuris Canonici
CMU Chiesa e mobilitá umana (The Church and Human Mobility) (Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migration and Tourism)
DPMC De Pastorali Migratorum Cura (Congregation for Bishops)
EA Ecclesia in America (Pope John Paul II)
EE Ecclesia de Eucharistia (Pope John Paul II)
EEu Ecclesia in Europa (Pope John Paul II)
EN Evangelii Nuntiandi (Pope Paul VI)
EO Ecclesia in Oceania (Pope John Paul II)
EV Enchiridion Vaticanum
GS Gaudium et Spes (II Vatican Council)
LG Lumen Gentium (II Vatican Council)
Message The Holy Father‘s Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees
MR Mutuae Relationes (Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes and Congregation for Bishops)
NMI Novo Millennio Ineunte (Pope John Paul II)
OE Orientalium Ecclesiarum (II Vatican Council)
OR L'Osservatore Romano
PaG Pastores Gregis (Pope John Paul II)
PB Pastor Bonus (Pope John Paul II)
PdV Pastores dabo vobis (Pope John Paul II)
PG Patrologia Graeca, Migne
PL Patrologia Latina, Migne
PO Presbyterorum Ordinis (II Vatican Council)
PT Pacem in Terris (Pope John XXIII)
RH Redemptor Hominis (Pope John Paul II)
RMa Redemptoris Mater (Pope John Paul II)
RMi Redemptoris Missio (Pope John Paul II)
SC Sacrosanctum Concilium (II Vatican Council)

[1]John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace 2001 Dialogue between Cultures for a Civilisation of Love and Peace, 12: AAS XCIII (2001) 241; cf. also John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, 55: AAS XCIII (2001) 306.
[2] Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migration and Tourism, circular letter to Episcopal Conferences Chiesa e mobilità umana, 8: AAS LXX (1978) 362.
[3] Cf. John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europa, 8: AAS XCV (2003) 655 and Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Gregis, 69 and 72: OR 17 October 2003, p. 12.
[4] Cf. John Paul II, Angelus Domini of Sunday, 6 July 2003: OR 7-8 July 2003, p. 1.
[5] The Convention also mentions those principles and rights that already exist in the international arena and which can very well be applied to migrants. It makes reference, for instance, to the Slavery Conventions, the Convention against Discrimination in the Field of Education, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, as well as to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Mention must also be made of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Manila Declaration of the Fourth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders. It is therefore significant that even those countries, which have not ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and the Members of Their Families, are obliged to observe the aforementioned instruments, naturally if they ratified or subsequently adhered to them. On the rights of migrants in civil society, cf., for instance from the Church’s point of view, John Paul II, Encyclical Laborem Exercens, 23: AAS LXXIII (1981) 635-637.
[6] Cf. 2003 Message: OR Weekly Edition in English, 11 December 2002, p. 6.
[7] Cf. Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, Proemio, 22, 30-32: AAS LVIII (1966) 1025-1027; 1042-1044; 1049-1051; Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 1, 7 and 13; AAS LVII (1965) 5, 9-11, 17-18; Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity Apostolicam Actuositatem, 14: AAS LVIII (1966) 850ff.; John XXIII, Encyclical Pacem in Terris, Part I: AAS LV (1963) 259-269; Pontifical Council Cor Unum and Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Refugees, a Challenge to Solidarity: EV 13 (1991-1993) 1019-1037; Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace, Self-Reliance: compter sur soi: EV 6 (1977-1979) 510-563; and Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, The Church and the Racism, Vatican City 2001.
8 1999 Message, 3: OR 21 February 1999, p. 7.
9 Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, 25: AAS LXXIX (1987) 394.
10 Cf. Letter to Diognetus 5.1, quoted in Message 1999, 2: l.c. 7.
11 Cf. Clement of Rome, Letter to the Corinthians, X-XII: PG 1, 228-233; Didaché, XI, 1; XII, 1-5, ed. F.X. FUNK, 1901, pp. 24, 30; Apostolic Constitutions, VII, 29, 2, ed. F.X. FUNK, 1905, p. 418; Justin, Apologia I, 67: PG 6, 429; Tertullian, Apologeticum, 39: PL 1, 471; Tertullian, De praescriptione haereticorum, 20: PL 2, 32; Augustine, Sermo 103, 1-2. 6: PL 38, 613-615.
12Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Redemptoris Missio, 20: AAS LXXXIII (1991) 267.
13 We may remember among others the Salesians of St John Bosco in Argentina, the initiatives of St Frances Xavier Cabrini, especially in North America, the two religious Congregations founded by Blessed Bishop Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, the Bonomelli Work in Italy, the St. Raphaels-Verein in Germany and the Society of Christ for Emigrants founded by Card. August Hlond in Poland.
14 Cf. Sacra Congregatio Consistorialis, Decretum de Sacerdotibus in certas quasdam regiones demigrantibus Ethnografica studia: AAS VI (1914) 182-186.
15 Cf. Sacra Congregatio Consistorialis, Decretum de Clericis in certas quasdam regiones demigrantibus Magni semper: AAS XI (1919) 39-43.
16 Cf. AAS XLIV (1952) 649-704.

17The first part of the encyclical Pacem in Terris, dealing with the right to emigrate or immigrate, states, “Every human person has the right to move freely and to settle anywhere within the political community of which he is a citizen and also the right, when legitimate interests make this advisable, to immigrate to other political communities and settle there”: l.c. 263.

18Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church Christus Dominus, 18: AAS LVIII (1966) 682. Regarding the “dispositions already given” cf. Pius X, Motu proprio Iam pridem: AAS VI (1914) 173ff; Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution Exsul Familia, especially the normative part, l.c. 692-704; Sacra Congregatio Consistorialis, Leges Operis Apostolatus Maris, auctoritate Pii Div. Prov. PP. XII conditae: AAS L (1958) 375-383.
19Cf. 1993 Message, 6: OR 2nd August 1992, p. 5.
20 Paul VI, Motu proprio Pastoralis Migratorum Cura: AAS LXI (1969) 601-603.
21 Congregation for Bishops, InstructionDe pastorali migratorum cura (Nemo est): AAS LXI (1969) 614-643.
22 Cf. The Church and Human Mobility, l.c. 357-378.
23 Cf. CIC Can. 294 and John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America, 65 note 237: AAS XCI (1999) 800. Cf. also John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europa, 103 note 166, l.c. 707.
24 Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Sacri Canones, AAS LXXXII (1990) 1037.
25 For specific norms and regulations concerning the Eastern Catholic Churches in this context, cf. CCEO, Can. 315 (which deals with Exarchates and Exarchs), Can. 911 and 916 (on the status of the foreigner and the local ordinary, his own ordinary and his own parish priest), Can. 986 (on authority of government), Can. 1075 (on the competent forum) and Can. 1491 (on laws, customs and administrative acts).
26John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, 77: AAS LXXIV (1982) 176.
27 Cf. Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Instruction Starting Afresh from Christ, a Renewed Commitment to Consecrated Life in the Third Millennium, 9, 35, 36, 37 and 44: OR Weekly Edition in English 26 June 2002, Special Insert pp. III, VIII, IX.
28John Paul II, Encyclical Redemptor Hominis, 14: AAS LXXI (1979) 284-286.
29Cf. in particular the 1992 Message: OR 11 September 1991, p. 5, and those of 1996: OR 6 September 1995, p. 6 and 1998: OR 21 November 1997, p. 4.
30Cf. 1993 Message: 2, l.c. 5.
31 Cf. John Paul II, “Faith Calls Us to Welcome the Immigrant”, Address to the IV World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees (5-10 October 1998): OR Weekly Edition in English 4 November 1998, p. 8. Cf. Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, the Holy Father’s Address, 2: Proceedings of IV World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, Vatican City 1999, p. 9.
32 Cf. 1996 Message: OR 6 September 1995, p. 6.
33 1988 Message, 3b: OR 4 September 1987, p. 5.
34 Cf. 1990 Message, 5: OR 22 September 1989, p. 5, and those of 1992, 3, 5-6: l.c. 5, and 2003: OR 2-3 December 2002, p. 7.
35 Cf. 1987 Message: OR 21 September 1986 p.5, and that of 1994: OR 17 September 1993, p. 4.
36 Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, Memorandum for the constitution of a pontifical commission Pro emigratis catholicis (4 May 1905), in S. Tomasi and G. Rosoli, “Scalabrini e le migrazioni moderne. Scritti e carteggi”, Turin 1997, p. 233.
37John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia Pastor Bonus, 149-151: AAS LXXX (1988) 899-900.
38John Paul II, Address to the members of the International Catholic Migration Commission, 4: OR 12-13 November 2001, p. 6.
39 Ibidem.
40 In particular Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (no. 20) draws attention to the need for the evangelization of different cultures. He states that “what matters is to evangelize man’s culture and cultures … in the wide and rich sense which these terms have in Gaudium et spes [cf. no. 53], always taking the person as one’s starting point and always coming back to the relationships of people among themselves and with God. The Gospel, and therefore evangelisation, are certainly not identical with culture, and they are independent in regard to all cultures. Nevertheless, the Kingdom which the Gospel proclaims is lived by men who are profoundly linked to a culture, and the building up of the Kingdom cannot avoid borrowing the elements of human culture and cultures”: AAS LXVIII (1976) 18-19.
41 Cf. also Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops on Certain Aspects of the Church as Communion, 8-9: AAS LXXXV (1993) 842-844.
42Cf. also Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church Ad Gentes, 11: AAS LVIII (1966) 959-960.
43 Ibidem 38: l.c. 986.
44 Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Presbyters Presbyterorum ordinis, 2 and 6: AAS LVIII (1966) 991-993, 999-1001 and the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 47: AAS LVI (1964) 113, as also GS 66.
45Cf. Interdicasterial Instruction on Certain Questions Concerning the Collaboration of the Laity with the Ministry of the Priests Ecclesiae de mysterio: AAS LXXXIX (1997) 852-877 and PaG 51 and 68.
46Chapter 15 of the Epistle to the Romans gives us the basic features of the duty to welcome others. The welcome must be “Christian” and profound and come from the heart (May God “help you all to be tolerant with each other, following the example of Christ Jesus”: v. 5); it must be generous and gratuitous, disinterested and not possessive (“Christ did not think of himself … , he became [a] servant”: vv. 3 and 8); it must be benevolent and strengthening (“Each of us should think of his neighbours and help them to become stronger Christians”: v. 2); and it must be attentive to the weaker ones (“We who are strong have a duty to put up with the qualms of the weak without thinking of ourselves”: v. 1).
47Cf. 1992 Message, 3-4: l.c. 5 and PaG 65.
48Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, 23: AAS LXXXI (1989) 429-433, RMi 71 and PaG 40.
49John Paul II, Apostolic Letter on the Sanctification of Sunday Dies Domini, 53: AAS XC (1998) 747; cf. Congregation for Divine Worship, Directory on Sunday Worship in the Absence of a Priest Christi Ecclesia, 18-50: EV XI (1988-1989) 452-468, and Interdicasterial Instruction Ecclesiae de mysterio, Art. 4 and 7: l.c. 860, 869-870.
50Cf. Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy. Principles and Orientations, Vatican City, 2002; and International Theology Commission, Faith and Inculturation, Part Three, Present-day Inculturation Problems, 2-7: EV 11 (1988-1989) 876-878.
51Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 4 and 6: AAS LVII (1965) 77-78.
52Cf. Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, De Benedictionibus, Vatican City 1985.
53Cf. 1991 Message: OR 15 August 1990, p. 5; Secretariats for Christian Unity, for Non-Christians and for Non-Believers and Pontifical Council for Culture (eds.), The Phenomenon of Sects and New Religious Movements: a Pastoral Challenge, Vatican City 1986; and Sects and New Religious Movements: Texts of the Catholic Church (1986-1994) (by the Work Group for New Religious Movements),Vatican City 1995. Regarding "New Age", cf. Pontifical Councils for Culture and for Interreligious Dialogue, Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life. A Christian Reflection on the “New Age”, Vatican City 2003.
54As regards the provisions for the coordination of different rites in one and the same territory, cf. CCEO Can. 202, 207 and 322.
55Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, 137: AAS LXXXV (1993) 1090.
56John Paul II, Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 45: OR 18 April 2003, p. 5. Referring to his encyclical Ut unum sint, the Holy Father states as follows for Catholics: “Conversely, in specific cases and in particular circumstances, Catholics too can request these same sacraments from ministers of Churches in which these sacraments are valid ” (no. 46: AAS LXXXVII [1995] 948). “These conditions, from which no dispensation can be given, must be carefully respected, even though they deal with specific individual cases, because [due to] the denial of one or more truths of the faith regarding these sacraments and, among these, the truth regarding the need of the ministerial priesthood for their validity, … Catholics may not receive communion in those communities which lack a valid sacrament of Orders” (EE 46).
57Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, 107: l.c. 1083.
58Cf. RMi 37b, 52, 53, 55-57: l.c. 283, 299, 300, 302-305.
59Cf. Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Instruction Dialogo e annuncio, 42-50: AAS LXXXIV (1992) 428-431.
60In schools in which meals are offered, account must be taken of the dietary rules of the pupils, unless their parents declare that they renounce this. The school should also provide occasion for dialogue on common activities between parents, including those belonging to other religions.
61John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Oceania, 45: AAS XCIV (2002) 417-418.
62Cf. Second Vatican Council, Declaration on the Church’s Relations with Non-Christian Religions Nostra aetate, 1-3, 5: AAS LVIII (1966) 740-744 and also EEu 57.
63Cf. also Secretariat for Non-Christians, The Church’s Attitude Towards the Followers of Other Religions, 32: OR 11-12 June 1984, p. 4.
64Cf. 2002 Message, 3: OR 19 October 2001, p. 5.
65Congregation for Catholic Education, Circular letter The Mobility Phenomenon, addressed to diocesan ordinaries and the rectors of their seminaries, on the inclusion of pastoral care for human mobility in the training of future priests, (1986), Appendix, 3: EV 10 (1986-87) 14.
66 Ibidem 4.
67Cf. John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis, 58: AAS LXXXIV (1992) 760.
68For the definition of “missionary” or “chaplain” cf. DPMC 35. The new CIC simply uses the word cappellanus, cf. Can. 564-572. Regarding the specific purpose of this missionary activity cf. AG 6; for the necessity of the Church’s mandate cf. DPMC 36; for those the activity is meant for, i.e. the migrants, cf. DPMC 15 and the above-mentioned circular letter The Church and Human Mobility, 2: l.c. 358. As regards the concept of the pastoral care of migrants cf. DPMC 15.
69Cf. DPMC 37 and 42-43.
70Cf. Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes and Congregation for Bishops, Directives on the Mutual Relations between Bishops and Religious in the Church, Mutuae Relationes, 11 and 12: AAS LXX (1978) 480-481.
71 Cf. Note 13.
72 John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata, 58: AAS LXXXVIII (1996) 430; cf. EEu 42-43.
73Cf. Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes and Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migration and Tourism, Joint Letter to All Men and Women Religious in the World: People on the Move 48 (1987) 163-166.
74Cf. Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes and the Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migration and Tourism, Joint Instruction An Invitation to Pastoral Commitment for Migrants and Refugees, 11: SCRIS Informationes, 15 (1989) 183-184; cf. AG 20 and DPMC 52, 53, 54.
75Cf. 1988 Message: l.c. 5; Instruction Ecclesiae de mysterio, 4: l.c. 860-861, and EEu 41.
76They are generally composed of several parishes that the bishop has requested to work together to constitute an efficacious “missionary community” to operate in a given territory in harmony with the diocesan pastoral plan. It amounts basically to a form of inter-parish collaboration and coordination (between two or more adjacent parishes).
77 Cf. 1996 Message: OR 6 September 1995, p.6.
78Cf. PT, first part: l.c. 265-266.
79 Cf. ibidem, 266.
80 1988 Message, 3c: OR 4 September 1987, p. 5.
81 Cf. 2004 Message: OR 24 December 2003, p. 5.

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