The Migrants & Refugees Section (M&R) of the Holy See’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has published its Pastoral Orientations on Intercultural Migrant Ministry. The new document, with a preface by the Holy Father, highlights the opportunities that are offered by current migratory trends through an intercultural perspective. These ‘Pastoral Orientations’ arose from a series of encounters with various representatives of Episcopal Conferences, religious congregations, and Catholic partners. They delve deeply into the theme chosen by Pope Francis for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2021 — “Towards an ever wider ‘we’” — in light of the intercultural dynamics that characterise migration. The ‘Pastoral Orientations’ explore the challenges that emerge from the situation of migration in the world today, which is increasingly global and intercultural. In this context, the document proposes meaningful pastoral responses, as well as good practices that are already in use and that have proven effective. The document presents the culture of encounter as a realization of the universal “we” emphasised by the Pope, which finds its fulfilment in communion amidst diversity. The following is the English text of the Preface.
These Pastoral Orientations offer proposals for intercultural pastoral ministry, transmitting in concrete terms my invitation in the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti to develop a culture of encounter. I invite you to take up anew the image of the polyhedron, which “represents a society where differences coexist, complementing, enriching, and reciprocally illuminating one another [...]. Each of us can learn something from others. No one is useless and no one is expendable.” (FT, 215)
“We are all in the same boat.” All of us are called to commit ourselves to universal fraternity. For Catholics, this translates into being ever more faithful to our being Catholic. As I wrote in the Message for the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, “encountering the diversity of foreigners, migrants, and refugees, and in the intercultural dialogue that can emerge from this encounter, we have an opportunity to grow as Church and to enrich one another.”
In times of greatest crisis, like the pandemic and the wars that we are currently experiencing, closed-minded and aggressive nationalism (FT, 11) and radical individualism (FT, 105) fracture or divide our unity, both in the world and within the Church. The highest price is paid by those who end up getting labelled as “them” versus “us”: foreigners, migrants, and the marginalised who inhabit the existential peripheries. In this context, these guidelines propose an ever wider “we,” which refers both to the entire human family and to the Church.
“The Catholic faithful are called to work together, each in the midst of his or her own community, to make the Church become ever more inclusive.” These Pastoral Orientations invite us to broaden the way that we experience being Church. They urge us to see the tragedy of prolonged uprootedness, to welcome, protect, integrate, and promote our brothers and sisters, and to create opportunities to work together towards communion. They give us the chance to live out a new Pentecost in our neighbourhoods and parishes, as we come to realise the richness of their spirituality and vibrant liturgical traditions.
This is also an opportunity to be an authentically synodal Church, journeying together, not set in our ways, never stagnant, but a Church that “makes no distinction between natives and foreigners, between residents and guests,” for we are all pilgrims on this earth.
We are called to dream together. We should not be afraid to “dream as a single human family, as fellow travellers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all” (FT, 8). These proposals invite us to begin this dream from our concrete reality, extending to the ends of the earth like an immense tent, embracing our migrant and refugee brothers and sisters and building the Kingdom of God together in a universal spirit of fraternity.
The Lord Jesus tells us that every encounter with a refugee or migrant is an opportunity to encounter Him (cf. Mt. 25:35). His Holy Spirit makes us capable of embracing everyone, cultivating communion in diversity, and harmonising differences without ever imposing a depersonalised uniformity. Catholic communities are invited to grow in the joy of encounter and to recognize the new life that migrants bring with them.
Vatican, March 3, 2022
The complete document may be found on: https://press.vatican.va/ content/salastampa/en/bollettino/ pubblico/2022/03/24/220324a.html