Vatican City (Fides Service) - “The Christian community today is called to face situations very different from the past. One of them is certainly the massive migratory phenomenon which often takes the form of tragedies which shake consciences. This phenomenon has given rise to ethnic, cultural and religious pluralism which in general characterises national societies today. The present realities of migration render urgent renewed proclamation of the Gospel on the part of Christian communities. This presents a challenge to the pastoral work and life witness of all Christians: clergy, religious and laity.” This is part of Pope John Paul II’s address to participants at the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples whom he received in audience on May 18.
“If "globalisation" is the term which more than any other connotes the evolution of history today- the Pope said - so too the word "dialogue" should characterise the mental and pastoral attitude we are all called to assume in view of the new balance in the world. This is all the more urgent considering the consistent number of about 200 million migrants. Integration at the social level and interaction at the cultural level are therefore the necessary presuppositions for authentic peaceful co-existence among individuals and nations.”
John Paul II underlined the need “to approach all cultures with an attitude of respect of a person aware that he has not only something to say and to offer but also much to hear and to receive” stressing that this attitude “is necessary so that the proclamation of the Gospel may reach everyone. Hence the necessity of intercultural dialogue: this is a process which is open and which, accepting all that is good and true in the different cultures, helps to remove obstacles on the path of faith.”
Humanity of the third millennium urgently needs to rediscover common spiritual values, “nevertheless, the integration of peoples with different religions and cultures is never without uncertainties and difficulties. This is true, in particular, with regard to the immigration of Muslims which poses specific problems. It is necessary for the clergy to assume in this regard precise responsibilities encouraging Christians to give ever more generous witness to the Gospel. Fraternal dialogue and reciprocal dialogue will never hinder or limit proclamation of the Gospel. Love and acceptance are therefore, indeed in themselves, the first and foremost form of evangelisation. It is necessary therefore for particular Churches learn to be welcoming also with pastoral initiatives of dialogue and encounter, but above all for them to help the faithful overcome prejudice and educating them to be missionaries ad gentes at home.”
“The present day entity of migration leads us to reflect on the condition of the pilgrim People of God on the way to the heavenly homeland- the Pope concluded -. The ecumenical movement itself can be seen as a great exodus, a pilgrimage which mingles with and joins the present day exodus of peoples in search of a less precarious life. In this sense ecumenical commitment is an ulterior incentive to offer a fraternal welcome people who have ways of living and thinking which differ from those to which we are accustomed.” (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 18/5/2004; Righe 39, Parole 533)