Migrants and their pastoral care is key, say bishops


Migrants and their pastoral care throughout the Pacific and Oceania was a central discussion point last week.

In Wellington that is, during the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conference of Oceania (FCBCO) meeting.

Catholic Archbishop of Wellington Paul Martin and the Wellington Archdiocese hosted the three-day meeting.

In recent decades migration has become the key to the vast and diverse Oceania region’s economy and sustainability.

“We heard the call of the vulnerable in our region… in search of work, or to escape the impacts of domestic challenges such as rising sea levels” the FCBCO says.

“How we provide pastoral care for those affected peoples emerged as a core theme in our prayer and reflection, and we will continue to dialogue as we move forward.”

Pope agrees

Pope Francis is well-known for speaking out for migrants and refugees.

The Vatican has released an advance message from Francis before September’s 110th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

In it, the Pope reminds us “it is possible to see in the migrants of our time, as in those of every age, a living image of God’s people on their way to the eternal homeland”.

The images of migrants and the biblical exodus share several similarities, he notes.

Like the people of Israel in the time of Moses, migrants often flee from oppression, abuse, insecurity, discrimination and lack of opportunities for development.

Migrants encounter many obstacles in their path – they are tried by thirst and hunger, they are exhausted by toil and disease, they are tempted by despair the Pope says.

“Emphasing the synodal dimension allows the Church to rediscover its itinerant nature, as the People of God journeying through history on pilgrimage, “migrating”, we could say, toward the Kingdom of Heaven.

Yet the fundamental reality of the Exodus, of every exodus, is that God precedes and accompanies his people and all his children in every time and place, Francis says.

Asylum seekers back on Nauru

Asylum seekers in the Pacific and Oceania region risk much for little return.

Australian officials report that the number of asylum seekers on Nauru has topped 100, after two groups of 37 people were sent to join those already on the Pacific Island. All are adults, just one is female.

Australia’s policy of deterrence against asylum seekers’ boats is under strain, with three boats of migrants arriving in a single week in May.

These “unauthorised maritime arrivals” are never allowed to settle in Australia, even if they are deemed to be owed protection under refugee conventions.


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