After the welcome: the challenges of integrating refugees
Meeting of bishops and delegates from Europe’s
Bishops’ Conferences with responsibility
for the pastoral care of migrants
Madrid, Spain, 26-27 September 2016
It is in the light of the reflection begun in recent years along with various church bodies on the Church’s response to the intense wave of migrations towards Europe, and seeking to integrate that response into the Church’s reflection in the Year of Mercy, that the work of the annual meeting of those responsible for the pastoral care of migrants will begin in Madrid on Monday 26 September.
In the Spanish capital, with the help of Comece, participants will receive updates on European policies about integration and will focus on the various dimensions of integration, especially the pastoral dimension, both from the perspective of those arriving and those welcoming: from looking for work and accommodation, to education of children and the personal and community experience of one’s own religion, but also the relationship between immigrants already integrated and new arrivals.
“In Madrid, the participants will speak about integration in their own countries, sharing the difficulties encountered and good practice”, said Mgr Duarte da Cunha, CCEE Geneal Secretary. “In tackling the phenomenon of migration”, he continued, “it is necessary not just to respond at the level of charity to the challenges placed by those fleeing from war regions or from situations of complete political and social instability, but also to the different stages of integration: from humanitarian assistance to resettlement in a foreign land. Increasingly, Europe is becoming a mutlicultural space where people from different origins integrate. It is part of Europe’s DNA, shaped by its Christian roots, to have an open cultural identity, neither indifferent nor syncretist, but in dialogue, conscious that not only does it have a lot to offer but also to receive”.
The first day of the meeting will end with the celebration of Mass in the parish of “Our Lady of Silence”, along with a diocesan delegation for the pastoral care of migrants, with as main celebrant His Grace Mgr Carlos Osoro Sierra.
The meeting will end on the morning of Tuesday 27 September with the celebration of Mass at the headquarters of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, with its President, Cardinal Ricardo Blázquez Pérez, as main celebrant. Prior to this there will be discussion of both current and previously tackled issues, such as: human trafficking (the work of the Santa Marta Group) and the presence of Chinese immigrants in Europe. It will also be an opportunity for an exchange about experiences and difficulties encountered in the social and pastoral accompaniment of immigrants and in the pastoral care of those who decide to migrate.