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
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
St. Otto lived in the twelfth century. He was born in Swabia, present-day Bavaria.
St. Thomas was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. His name in the Syriac language means "twin."
ST. ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL
St. Elizabeth, a Spanish princess, was born in 1271. She married King Denis of Portugal at the age of twelve.
ST. ANTHONY MARY ZACCARIA
St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria was born in Italy in 1502. While he was still young, his father died.
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.
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.
BLESSED EUGENE III
Blessed Eugene III was born near Pisa, Italy, in the twelfth century. He was baptized Peter.
ST. FELICITY AND HER SEVEN SONS.
St. Felicity was a noble Christian woman of Rome. She lived during the second century.
St. Benedict was born in 480. He was from a rich Italian family. His life was full of adventure and wonderful deeds.
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.
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.
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.
St. was born in 1221 in Tuscany, Italy, and was baptized John.
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.
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.
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.
St. Macrina was the first child of St. Basil the Elder and St. Emmelia.
St. Charbel was born to a poor Maronite Family on May 8, 1828 in a mountain village of Biqa-Kafra, Lebanon.
ST. LAWRENCE OF BRINDISI.
St. Lawrence was born Caesar Rossi in Brindisi, Italy, in 1559. Brindisi was part of the Kingdom of Naples, Italy.
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.
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.
ST. BORIS AND ST. GLEB
St. Boris and St. Gleb, the brothers, were born toward the end of the tenth century.
ST. JAMES THE GREATER
St. James was a fisherman like his father Zebedee and his brother John.
ST. JOACHIM AND ST. ANNE
St. Anne and St. Joachim are the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
St. Pantaleon came from Nicomedia, near the Black Sea, in Asia. He lived in the fourth century.
St. Martha was the sister of Mary and Lazarus.
ST. PETER CHRYSOLOGUS
St. Peter Chrysologus was born in the small town of Imola, Italy.
ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA
St. Ignatius, the famous founder of the Jesuits, was born in 1491.
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?