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ADDRESS ON WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES, 2002

Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
Immigration and Inter-religious Dialogue
World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 2002

Msgr. Felix A. Machado
Undersecretary
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 tradition.

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.

In 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.

On 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 religious tradition.
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. 4).

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 and intolerance.

“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.

 
LIVES OF THE SAINTS

JULY 1
BLESSED JUNIPERO SERRA
Blessed Junipero Serra was born in Petra, Spain, on November 24, 1713. The boy became a student at the Franciscan school in Palma 

JULY 2
ST. OTTO.
St. Otto lived in the twelfth century. He was born in Swabia, present-day Bavaria. 

JULY 3
ST. THOMAS
St. Thomas was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. His name in the Syriac language means "twin."

JULY 4
ST. ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL
St. Elizabeth, a Spanish princess, was born in 1271. She married King Denis of Portugal at the age of twelve.

JULY 5
ST. ANTHONY MARY ZACCARIA

St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria was born in Italy in 1502. While he was still young, his father died.

JULY 6
ST. MARIA GORETTI

St. Maria Goretti was born in 1890. Her father died when she and the other five children in her family were small. At twelve, Maria was already very pretty.

JULY 7
BLESSED ROGER DICKENSON, BLESSED RALPH MILNER AND BLESSED LAWRENCE HUMPHREY

These three martyrs lived in England during the time of Church persecution by Queen Elizabeth I.

JULY 8
BLESSED EUGENE III

Blessed Eugene III was born near Pisa, Italy, in the twelfth century. He was baptized Peter.

JULY 10
ST. FELICITY AND HER SEVEN SONS.

St. Felicity was a noble Christian woman of Rome. She lived during the second century.

JULY 11
ST. BENEDICT

St. Benedict was born in 480. He was from a rich Italian family. His life was full of adventure and wonderful deeds.

JULY 12
ST. JOHN GAULBERT

St. John Gaulbert was born in Florence, Italy, at the end of the tenth century. He and his father were devastated when John's only brother, Hugh, was murdered.

JULY 13
ST. HENRY II.

St. Henry II was born in 972. He became the duke of Bavaria in 995. One night he had an unusual vision. St. Wolfgang, who had been his beloved teacher when he was a boy, appeared to him.

JULY 14
BLESSED KATERI TEKAKWITHA

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was born in Auriesville, New York, in 1656. Her mother was a Christian Algonquin. Her father was a non-Christian Mohawk chief.

JULY 15
ST. BONAVENTURE.

St. was born in 1221 in Tuscany, Italy, and was baptized John.

JULY 16
FEAST OF OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL

This feast was instituted by the Carmelites between 1376 and 1386 under the title "Commemoratio B. Marif Virg.

JULY 17
ST. LEO IV.

St. Leo IV lived in the ninth century. He was a Roman by birth and spent his life in that city. Leo was educated in the Benedictine monastery near St. Peter's Basilica.

JULY 18
ST. FREDERICK.

St. Frederick lived in ninth-century Utrecht, in the central part of the Netherlands. When he was ordained a priest, Bishop Ricfried put him in charge of instructing converts.

JULY 19
ST. MACRINA.

St. Macrina was the first child of St. Basil the Elder and St. Emmelia.

JULY 20
SAINT CHARBEL.

St. Charbel was born to a poor Maronite Family on May 8, 1828 in a mountain village of Biqa-Kafra, Lebanon.

JULY 21
ST. LAWRENCE OF BRINDISI.

St. Lawrence was born Caesar Rossi in Brindisi, Italy, in 1559. Brindisi was part of the Kingdom of Naples, Italy.

JULY 22
ST. MARY MAGDALENE.

St. Mary Magdalene was from Magdala near the Sea of Galilee. Some people identify her as a well-known sinner when she first saw Our Lord.

JULY 23
ST. BRIDGET OF SWEDEN.

St. Bridget was born in Sweden in 1303. From the time she was a child, she was greatly devoted to the passion of Jesus.

JULY 24
ST. BORIS AND ST. GLEB

St. Boris and St. Gleb, the brothers, were born toward the end of the tenth century.

JULY 25
ST. JAMES THE GREATER

St. James was a fisherman like his father Zebedee and his brother John.

JULY 26
ST. JOACHIM AND ST. ANNE

St. Anne and St. Joachim are the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

JULY 27
ST. PANTALEON

St. Pantaleon came from Nicomedia, near the Black Sea, in Asia. He lived in the fourth century.

JULY 29
ST. MARTHA

St. Martha was the sister of Mary and Lazarus.

JULY 30
ST. PETER CHRYSOLOGUS

St. Peter Chrysologus was born in the small town of Imola, Italy.

JULY 31
ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA

St. Ignatius, the famous founder of the Jesuits, was born in 1491.

 
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REFLECTIONS

“Jesus’ Baptism”

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?

 
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