By Sr. Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Bishops and Delegates involved with the Pastoral Care of Migrants in Europe concluded their 3-day meeting on Sunday in Stockholm, Sweden. The theme of the meeting combined both migration and news in order to train participants in communicating the Church’s work among migrants.
Migrating is still healthy for the faith
“Migration within the European continent has been and still is healthy for the faith, because many Christians who came from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, or Africa have maintained and live their faith in the host countries”, begins the press release issued on Monday. In the secularized host countries, biased and hostile perceptions of immigrants form the public opinion that “national governments should first take care of their own citizens rather than migrants”, the release states. Such thinking forgets about the innate dignity of each person.
The release continues saying that the complexity of the issue is often not competently reported in the media. “Thus, the role of communication in the narration of human mobility in its tragedies but also in its beauty and wealth appears to be a crucial responsibility of the Church too”. These motivations inspired the participants to include communication in their ministry and to invest in the training of their personnel in using social media.
Communicate the Church's beauty
General Secretary, Msgr Duarte da Cunha, and Secretary, Fr Luis Okulik, for the Commission for the Pastoral Care of Social Issues for the European Catholic Bishops’ Conferences concluded the meeting by presenting several priorities. First among these is the “importance of communicating how beautiful the Church is”. Other priorities listed are using appropriate language, providing context when reporting events, challenging the common narrative by entering into relationship with others and avoiding the use of “abstract terms”.
Participants also had the opportunity of meeting with various Middle Eastern and Latin American immigrant groups living in Stockholm. The conference concluded on Sunday morning with Mass in the Church of St Eugenia attended by migrants, followed by a tour of the Abbey of St Brigida in Vadstena.