The Vatican section on Migrants and Refugees met this week with Church leaders from around the world to hear about the challenges of migration faced in different parts of the world and to work on the Church’s contribution to a UN global compact on the topic.
According to a press statement ahead of the event, the private meetings, held June 12-13 in the Vatican, included some 40 leaders “directly involved in the protection of migrants and refugees’ rights and in the fight against human trafficking.”
This session “is the first time that our new Migrants and Refugees section has had the chance to consult with leaders of the Church throughout the world, from all the different continents, from the various major bishops’ conferences, and from some national conferences,” Fr. Michael Czerny told CNA June 13.
“So we’ve had our first chance to take a look at the world situation of refugees and migrants through the eyes of those who are most concerned in the Church.”
Jesuit Fr. Michael Czerny is secretary of the new Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2017, and includes a special section on migrants and refugees currently headed by the Pope himself.
The meetings provided the opportunity for collaboration, and to hear and learn from different perspectives. “I think we’re united in our common care, our common concern, but we’re just as anxious to hear what the different situations are in reality,” he said.
“For example, there were moments when we were concerned about how migrants were arriving, and there were bishops saying, yes, but why aren’t you asking why they are leaving? It’s not that one is the right question, and the other is the wrong, but from different points of view, different questions are vital.”
Another aim of the session was to begin the process of creating a working document for the Church’s participation in the United Nations global compact on migration, which will be the first agreement negotiated between governments covering all dimensions of international migration.
The UN process began in April 2017 and will conclude with an intergovernmental conference on international migration at the end of 2018 with the intention of adoption the compact.
“These points that we’ve discussed for two days,” Fr. Czerny said, “are the points that we will be urging upon the governments of the world, and upon the United Nations, so that the compact on migrants will be as open, as dignified, as effective, as possible.”
Among the points discussed are pastoral issues concerning migrants, refugees, displaced persons, asylum seekers and victims of trafficking. In addition to the UN project, they will likely be shared as well in departmental publications and messages of the Holy Father, he said.
This meeting was important, Fr. Czerny continued, because the Church “cares very deeply about those who are forced to flee, whatever the reason, and for those who are victims of human trafficking.”
“And if we can help in some way or another, that these people have an easier time of it, that they have less suffering, or encounter fewer obstacles, that they are safe and secure and can live their lives happily and productively – that’s bringing the Gospel, that’s bringing the Good News to people, and we’re happy to do that.”