THE MIGRANT FAMILY IN THE CONTEXT OF THE DIASPORA Speech by H.E., the Most Rev. Lucio Andrice MUANDULA Bishop of Xai-Xai Mozambique Delivered at the 7th World World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants in Rome November 2014

ROUND TABLE

“THE MIGRANT FAMILY IN THE CONTEXT OF THE DIASPORA”

 

(Unofficial translation)

 

 

H.E., the Most Rev. Lucio Andrice MUANDULA

Bishop of Xai-Xai

Mozambique

 

 

  1. I have been asked to speak briefly about the Migrant Family in the Context of the Diaspora, and I do not know if I will really be able to make a brief summary of everything that I think is important to consider for the discussion on cooperation and development in the pastoral care of migrations.
  2. The condition lived by the migrant family in the diaspora often makes us think of two fundamental questions: its relation with its country of origin, a sensation of complete rootlessness, and its relation with the new reality of the place where it finds itself, which is all marked by a great need for This last question makes another no less important problem emerge: the search for a new cultural identity where there is often a past that is rejected (of the place of origin obviously), combined with values that it does not want to lose, and a present (the new living condition) that is still not an acquired reality on which the migrant family in the diaspora can assert itself solidly.
  3. The sensation of complete rootlessness with regard to its place of origin and the lack of full integration into the new reality often create a painful tension in the migrant family in the diaspora, which affects and destroys the entire family, starting from its individual members.[1] It is precisely to comfort and relieve the suffering and pain experienced by the migrant family in the diaspora that the Church, as the Family of God in the world,[2] is called to intervene.
  4. While speaking about the Church’s real intervention in favor of migrants and itinerant people, in his Address to the Participants in the XX Plenary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People last year, Pope Francis said: “The Church is mother and her motherly attention is expressed with special tenderness and closeness to those who are obliged to flee their own country and exist between rootlessness and integration”.[3]
  5. To be close with special tenderness to those who are forced to flee their own country and live between rootlessness and integration, in the concrete case of the migrant family in the diaspora, means to let oneself get involved with its particular situation of suffering and, moved by Christian compassion, to implement concrete actions that can alleviate its sufferings and perhaps heal the wounds caused by the deep pain it is experiencing.[4]
  6. Consequently, to alleviate its situation of suffering, the Church will have to learn in some way to appropriate the suffering in which the migrant family in the diaspora finds itself, to suffer with it, and to make her own that unpleasant experience of total loss which is expressed in the need for a reception that goes beyond by any kind of border.[5]
  7. With regard to the dimension of rootlessness, the Church’s Christian compassion will be expressed above all “in the commitment to obtain knowledge of the events that force people to leave their homeland, and, where necessary, to give voice to those who cannot manage to make their cry of distress and oppression heard”.[6] In fact,migrations often reveal failures and shortcomings on the part of States and the international community”.[7]
  8. On the other hand, with regard to the need for integration, Christian compassion will be expressed in welcome and hospitality for the family in the diaspora by avoiding any kind of prejudice[8] and interacting with it to promote a “better world”,[9] that is, a culture open to universal solidarity and life. In fact, by leaving its country of origin in search of better living conditions the migrant family in the diaspora “also points to the aspiration of humanity to enjoy a unity marked by respect for differences, by attitudes of acceptance and hospitality which enable an equitable sharing of the world’s goods, and by the protection and the advancement of the dignity and centrality of each human being”.[10]
  9. In this pastoral process of solidarity and assistance to the migrant family in the diaspora, the local Churches of the countries of origin and those of the places of reception and hospitality have to learn to work together, especially to identify the real causes of the migration, in order to determine the right way to deal with the migrants’ real challenges and help them to regain their human dignity.
  10. The local Churches of the countries of origin have the particularly important role of denouncing the irregular situations, often of injustice and persecution, that are at the origin of migrant family’s departure so as to prevent other families from setting off on the same adventure. Moreover, it is incumbent on the Churches of origin to keep up an on-going dialogue with the Churches of the place of reception in order to facilitate the migrant family’s
  11. With regard to the Christian Communities of the Churches of reception and hospitality, as we have already mentioned, they need to be helped to exercise Christian compassion towards their neighbor (Cf. Matthew 25:31-46 and Luke 10:25-37 = the Parable of the Good Samaritan).
  12. However, the migrant family in the diaspora is asked “to cultivate an open and positive attitude towards their receiving society and maintain an active willingness to accept offers to participate in building together an integrated community that would be a ‘common household’ for all”.[11]
  13. All things considered, the pastoral action for migrations cannot substitute the great responsibility that is incumbent on those who govern, lawmakers and the entire international Community “to confront the reality of those who have been displaced by force, with effective projects and new approaches in order to protect their dignity, to improve the quality of their life and to face the challenges that are emerging from modern forms of persecution, oppression and slavery”.[12]
  14. By way of conclusion, I would like to leave some questions to enrich our discussion on this theme of the Migrant Family in the Context of the Diaspora: 1) How can the local Churches of the countries of origin and those of the countries of arrival work together to tackle the challenges at the origin of the migrant families’ departure in search of better living conditions? 2) What kind of receiving structure could the local Church of arrival organize in which, beyond just assistance and human solidarity for the migrant family in the diaspora, the need for full integration would also be stressed, where the migrant would feel welcomed with all his cultural and spiritual patrimony?  3) How can the human and spiritual values be put to good use which even in its situation of total indigence the migrant family in the diaspora can share with the Christian community that receives it?

 

[1]  In this regard, on the occasion of the Angelus on June 19, 2005, in commenting on the theme of World Refugee Day organized by the United Nations, Pope Benedict XVI said: “This year’s theme: ‘The courage to be a refugee’, lays the emphasis on the strength of spirit demanded of those who have to leave everything, sometimes even their family, to escape grave problems and dangers”.

[2]   “The Church is God’s family in the world. In this family no one ought to go without the necessities of life. Yet at the same time caritas-agape extends beyond the frontiers of the Church. The parable of the Good Samaritan remains as a standard which imposes universal love towards the needy whom we encounter ‘by chance’” (Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, No. 25).

[3] Address of Pope Francis to Participants in the XX Plenary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (Clementine Hall, May 24, 2013).

[4]  While speaking in particular about the need to protect the Migrant Family’s dignity, in his Message for the 2007 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Benedict XVI said: “In these cases an attentive pastoral presence is necessary. Aside from giving assistance capable of healing the wounds of the heart, pastoral care should also offer the support of the Christian community, able to restore the culture of respect and have the true value of love found again”.

[5]  Speaking again in the context of refugees, in the Angelus on June 19, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI said: “The Christian Community feels close to all who are experiencing this painful condition; it endeavors to encourage them and in various ways shows them its interest and love, which is expressed in concrete gestures of solidarity so that everyone who is far from his own Country will feel the Church as a homeland where no one is a stranger”.

[6]  Address of Pope Francis to Participants in the XX Plenary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (Vatican City, May 24, 2013).

[7]  Pope Francis, Message for the 2014 World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

[8]  In his Address to Participants in the XX Plenary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Pope Francis invited them “to see a ray of hope as well in the eyes and hearts of refugees and of those who have been forcibly displaced. A hope that is expressed in expectations for the future, in the desire for friendship, in the wish to participate in the host society also through learning the language, access to employment and the education of children”.

[9] “The expression [a “better world”] does not allude naively to abstract notions or unattainable ideals; rather, it aims at an authentic and integral development, at efforts to provide dignified living conditions for everyone, at finding just responses to the needs of individuals and families, and at ensuring that God’s gift of creation is respected, safeguarded and cultivated” (Pope Francis, Message for the 2014 World Day of Migrants and Refugees).

[10]   Ibid.

[11]  Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the 2007 World Day of Migrants and Refugees – The Migrant Family.

[12]  Address of Pope Francis to Participants in the XX Plenary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (Vatican City, May 24, 2013).

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