By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
The 3-day annual meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in Europe (CCEE) opens on Friday with evening Mass at St Erik cathedral church of Stockholm, Sweden. Presentations on the theme “A movement of humanity: the flow of migrants and news. Dialogue and communication for a culture of encounter” will be presented. They include: Immigration and public opinion, use of the media on the topic, forming the Catholic faithful regarding migration.
Why migrants and news?
Fr Luis Okulik, Secretary for the Commission for Pastoral Care for the European Bishops Conference, spoke with Vatican News regarding the reason why the theme for this year’s conference was chosen. He said that the Directors of National Migration Offices of the various European Bishops Council choose a theme that is “significant for everybody according to their interests or their needs”. Over the past several years, the topic of “the relationship between migration and communication” has been emerging he said.
Difficulty telling our story
Although the Church has been working for years with migration, there is “a difficulty in announcing, or letting others know what we are doing, welcoming migrants and refugees, working with them and integrating them into our society”, Fr Okulik said. Thus the participants hope to learn such things as “how the media works today, how priorities are set, and how we can offer a more positive outlook of the work we are already doing”, he said. The motivation is not so much that of publicity, but that the information regarding the Church’s work with migrants might be a tool for evangelization.
Fr Okulik said that there are different approaches, sensibilities, understanding and priorities among the European Bishops Conferences. However, underlying these differences are common values which create community. “We try to accommodate different perceptions and visions that are the dignity of difference”, he said. The Church’s tradition includes differences which enriches the ecclesial experience. “We are not afraid of differences, and we try to tackle every difficulty trying to get stronger from these different visions”, he concluded.