ADDRESS ON WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES,
Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
Immigration and Inter-religious Dialogue
World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 2002
Felix A. Machado
Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue
Many of the hundred and fifty million migrants, who are spread around
different parts of the world, have brought with them their religious
traditions. As a 'map of various religions' our world can be an
enriching experience. The multireligious character of the world
can be a source of great harmony and peace. Of course, mutual enrichment
and peace do not come about by themselves. We are only too aware
of the tensions and conflicts that exist, often intensified by the
difference of religion. There needs to be a healthy interaction
and exchange among people of different religious traditions. Mutual
enrichment, harmony and peace are fruits of dialogue. The Catholic
Church has been promoting this dialogue among religions for a long
time and the message of the Holy Father on the occasion of the World
Dayof Migrants and Refugee 2002, needs to be read in this context.
Some immigrants may just be passing through, in transit to a more
permanent destination, or perhaps hoping to return to their countries
of origin. Others have come to stay, forming stable communities.
They have left their own country and have settled down permanently
in another place, but without leaving their religion. For example,
in Italy we have immigrants from North Africa, sub Saharan Africa
and South Asia. Many of them are Muslims. There arc people from
India, among whom we meet followers of the Sikh religion. There
are Tibetans who are Buddhists and immigrants from what used to
be known as Indochina among whom many belong to the Buddhist religious
Immigration and interreligious dialogue are sometimes spoken of
as problems in our society. In his message on the occasion of the
World Dayof Migrants andRefugees 2002 the Holy Father brings these
two together and shows how they can be opportunities for contributing
harmony and peace to the world. The phenomenon of immigration offers
occasions for Christians to engage in dialogue with people of other
religious traditions. The practice of dialogue, in turn, enables
Christians to know the immigrants justly and fairly and thus help
them integrate better into society.
Inter religious dialogue for the Catholic Church is not an abstract
idea. Remaining uncompromisingly consistent with its doctrine and
tradition the Catholic Church invites all its faithful to engage
in interreligious dialogue. This simply means to pass from distrust,
suspecion and refusal of the other to respectful acceptance. Admitting
that the way of dialogue is not an easy one, the Holy Father exhorts
Christians to engage on this path, considering it also as an aspect
of the new evangelization. The path of dialogue offers opportunities
for pastoral initiatives. The Holy Father reminds the Christian
faithful that authentic dialogue is always built on one's own testimony
of faith. The practice of interreligious dialogue presupposes honesty
and mutual trust. This is why partners in dialogue cannot hide the
obvious facts of day to day life. For example, the Holy Father does
allude to difficulties faced by Christian immigrants who do not
always enjoy religious liberty when they choose to live in countries
in which the religion of the majority is different from theirs.
The experience of many years show that interreligious dialogue can
be undertaken on different levels. The Catholic Church speaks of
four levels or forms of dialogue. They are distinct from one another
yet at the same time inter connected: 1. dialogue of life it implies
concern, respect, and hospitality towards the other; 2. dialogue
of collaboration it calls every Christian to work together with
each and all for goals of a humanitarian, social, economic, or political
nature which are directed towards the liberation and advancement
of humankind; 3. dialogue of specialists it involves confrontation,
deepening and enrichment of the respective religious heritages;
and 4. dialogue of religious experience it implies sharing one's
experience of prayer, contemplation, faith and duty, as well as
one's expressions and ways of searching for the Absolute.
his message on the occasion of the World Day of Migrants and of
Refugees - 2002 the Holy Father invites Christians to work mainly
through their parishes. The parish is a 'palestra' of hospitality,
says the Pope. Through these Christian communities bonds of friendship
can be built, collaboration can be undertaken for the good of society
and a culture of respect and solidarity can be promoted together
with immigrants who belong to different religious traditions.
the level of dialogue of life Christians, through their respective
parishes, can manifest a spirit of welcome, understanding and respect
towards immigrants and refugees. For example, on the occasion of
religious feasts of different religions, the Christian community
can organise programmes in order to exchange greetings (the President
of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue sends a special
message to Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims for their respective festivals
of Diwali, Vesakh and Id al Fitr). It is also an occasion to understand
the deeper religious significance of a festival of a particular
The Holy Father draws our attention to the dialogue of life through
the practice of Christian charity.He says, “Everyday, in many
parts of the world, migrants, refugees and displaced people turn
to Catholic organizations and parishes in search of support, and
they are welcomed irrespective of cultural or religious affiliation”(n.
The dialogue of collaboration can also be promoted when Christians
can be instruments in bringing together immigrants who belong to
different religions in order to work for the good of the whole society.
Different places of worship and centres can encourage the dialogue
of spiritual experience. Friendly and fraternal relations with people
of different religions can help in acquiring sound knowledge of
different religions. This knowledge can replace prejudice, misunderstanding
“Inter-religious dialogue is not opposed to the mission ad
gentes” (Redemporis Missio, 55) and, " ...true inter-religious
dialogue on the part of the Christian supposes the desire to make
Jesus Christ better known, recognized and loved...." (Dialogue
and Proclamation, n. 77). Christian communities can invite immigrants
and refugees who belong to different religious traditions to discover
Christ, the Lord and Saviour of all.The Holy Father underlines this
point when he says in n. 4:
The service of charity, which Christians are always called to carry
out, cannot be limited to the mere distribution of humanitarian
aid. In this way, new pastoral situations arise, which the Church
community cannot fail to take into consideration. It is the task
of its members to look for appropriate occasions to share with those
who are welcomed the gift of the revelation of God who is Love,
who “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son"
(Jn 3:16). With the gift of material bread, it is indispensable
not to neglect to offer the gift of faith, especially through one's
own existential witness and always with great respect for all. Welcome
and mutual openness allow people to know each other better and to
discover that the various religious traditions not rarely contain
precious seeds of truth. The dialogue that results from this can
enrich every spirit that is open to the Truth and the Good.
OF THE SAINTS
ST. JOSEPH THE WORKER
This is St. Joseph's second feast day on the Church calendar of celebrations. We honor him also on March 19. St. Joseph is a very important saint.
St. Athanasius was born around 297 in Alexandria, Egypt. He devoted his life to proving that Jesus is truly God.
ST. PHILIP AND ST. JAMES
Both of these saints were part of the original group of Jesus' twelve apostles.
BLESSED MARIE-LEONIE PARADIS
Blessed Marie-Elodie Paradis was born in the village of L'Acadie in Quebec, Canada. It was May 12, 1840.
ST. JUDITH OF PRUSSIA
St. Judith lived in the thirteenth century. She was born in Thuringia. This was in what is now central Germany. She wanted to model her life on the example of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.
BLESSED FRANCOIS DE MONTMORENCY LAVAL
Blessed Francois was the first bishop of Quebec City, Canada. He was born in 1623 in a small town in France.
BLESSED ROSE VENERINI
Blessed Rose was born in Viterbo, Italy, in 1656. Her father was a physician. Rose entered the convent but returned home after a few months.
BLESSED CATHERINE OF ST. AUGUSTINE
St. Catherine was born on May 3, 1632, in a little village in France. She was baptized the same day.
BLESSED NICHOLAS ALBERGATI
Blessed Nicholas was born in Bologna, Italy. Nicholas' family could afford to send him to the university where he began to study law.
St. Antoninus lived in the fifteenth century. Even as a boy he showed that he had good sense and will power.
ST. IGNATIUS OF LACONI
St. Ignatius was the son of a poor farmer in Laconi, Italy. He was born on December 17, 1701.
ST. NEREUS, ST. ACHILLEUS AND ST. PANCRAS
Sts. Nereus and Achilleus were Roman soldiers who died around 304. They were probably Praetorian guards under Emperor Trajan. We know little else about them.
ST. ANDREW FOURNET
St. Andrew Fournet was born on December 6, 1752. He was from Maille, a little town near Poitiers, in France. Andrew's parents were religious people.
St. Matthias was one of Our Lord's seventy-two disciples.
ST. ISIDORE THE FARMER
Saint Isidore was born in 1070, in Madrid, Spain. His parents were deeply religious. They named their son after the great St. Isidore, archbishop of Seville, Spain.
St. Ubald lived in twelfth-century Italy. He was an orphan raised by his uncle, a bishop. Ubald was given a good education.
ST. PASCHAL BAYLON
St. Paschal, a Spanish saint, was born in 1540. From the time he was seven, he worked as a shepherd. He never had the opportunity to go to school.
ST. JOHN I
St. John I was a priest of Rome. He became pope after the death of Pope St. Hormisdas in 523. At that time, Italy's ruler, Theodoric the Goth, was an Arian.
ST. CELESTINE V
Peter di Morone was the eleventh of twelve children. He was born around 1210 in Isernia, Italy. His father died when he was small.
ST. BERNARDINE OF SIENA
St. Bernardine of Siena was born in 1380 in a town near Siena, Italy. He was the son of an Italian governor.
BLESSED EUGENE DE MAZENOD
Blessed Eugene was born in France in 1782. He became a priest in 1811. Father Eugene was sensitive to the needs of the poor and he ministered to them.
ST. RITA OF CASCIA
St. Rita was born in 1381 in a little Italian village. Her parents were older. They had begged God to send them a child. They brought Rita up well.
ST. JOHN BAPTIST ROSSI
St. John Baptist Rossi was born in 1698 in a village near Genoa, Italy. His family loved him. They were proud when a wealthy couple visiting their town offered to educate him. His parents knew the couple and trusted them.
ST. DAVID I OF SCOTLAND
St. David was born in 1080. He was the youngest son of St. Margaret, queen of Scotland, and her good husband, King Malcom.
Venerable Bede, the English priest, was famous as a saint, a priest, a monk, a teacher and a writer of history. He was born in England in 673.
ST. PHILIP NERI
St. Philip Neri was born in Florence, Italy, in 1515. As a child, his nickname was "Good little Phil." He was always so jolly and friendly that everyone he met loved him.
ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY
St. Augustine was the abbot of St. Andrew's monastery in Rome. Pope St. Gregory the Great chose him and forty other monks for a mission dear to his heart.
BLESSED MARGARET POLE
Blessed Margaret was born in 1471. She was the niece of two English kings, Edward IV and Richard III. Henry VII arranged her marriage to Sir Reginald Pole.
St. Maximinius was a bishop who lived in the fourth century. It is believed that he was born in Poitiers, France. As a young man, he heard of a saintly bishop of Trier, in Gaul.
ST. JOAN OF ARC
St. Joan was born in 1412. Her hometown was Domremy, a little village in France. Jacques d'Arc, her father, was a hard working farmer.
THE VISITATION OF MARY
Visitation means "visit." The Archangel Gabriel told the Blessed Virgin Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was going to have a baby.
PHOTO OF THE MONTH
of the Relics of the Passion
for Holy Relics)
Why did Jesus, the sinless one sent from the Father in heaven,
submit himself to John’s baptism? John preached a
baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke
3:3). In this humble submission we see a foreshadowing of
the “baptism” of Jesus bloody death upon the
cross. Jesus’ baptism is the acceptance and the beginning
of his mission as God’s suffering Servant (Isaiah
52:13-15; 53:1-12). He allowed himself to be numbered among
sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father’s
will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death
for the remission of our sins. Do you know the joy of trust
and submission to God?