By Vatican News
“From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has been encouraging and urging and showing the Church to accompany all people who in one way or another are forced to flee”, according to Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J., an Under-Secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section (M&R) at the Vatican.
The Cardinal was speaking at a press conference in the Sala Marconi of Palazzo Pio on Tuesday, where he presented new “Pastoral Orientations on Internally Displaced Persons”, published Tuesday on the M&R website. On hand for the press conference were Father Fabio Baggio, C.S., Under-Secretary of the same Vatican Section for Migrants and Refugees and Amaya Valcárcel, the Coordinator for International Advocacy for Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Rome.
Pope Francis’s commitment to serving “vulnerable persons on the move” led to the establishment of the Migrants & Refugees Section, which began its activity in 2017.
The work of the Migrants and Refugees Section
Since that time, Cardinal Czerny said, M&R has produced numerous resources aimed at assisting those who serve men, women, and children who are forced to leave their homes. These resources include a list of Pastoral Action Points for use by organizations caring for migrants and refugees in 2017 and, a year later, Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking.
In 2019, M&R again held consultations “with church leaders and partner organizations with practitioners and Scholars working in the field” of internal displacement, Cardinal Czerny said, leading to the Pastoral Orientations on Internally Displaced Persons presented on Tuesday.
He emphasized that the document on IDPs is part of "a series of responses" given by M&R. With each intervention, the Section addresses one particular segment of "the overall population of vulnerable people on the move, and focus on their situation, their needs, how the Church is actually responding, and how we could respond better".
Nourished by Church teaching and action
The roots of the new guidelines can be found in the teaching office and the pastoral action of the Church, said Father Fabio Baggio, C.S., who is also an under-secretary in M&R:
“The Pastoral Guidelines on Internally Displaced Persons are nourished by the richness of the universal and local Magisterium and by the long pastoral tradition of the actions that the Church, in different parts of the world, has undertaken for the benefit of these inhabitants of the existential peripheries”.
Assisting IDPs during the pandemic
Cardinal Czerny noted that the new guidelines, like previous productions, have been “approved by the Holy Father”. He said they are meant “to guide the Church’s ministry to IDPs in planning and practical engagement, in advocacy and dialogue”.
The Cardinal also noted the special significance of the Pastoral Orientations during the coronavirus emergency: “In this time of pandemic, the virus does not seem distinguish between those who are important and those who are invisible, those who are settled and those who are displaced: everyone is vulnerable, and each infection is a danger to everyone”.
In these circumstance, he continued, it is important for IDPs to be “recognized and supported, promoted and eventually re-integrated, so that they can once again play an active, constructive role in their country, even if powerful causes - both natural and unjust human causes - have forced them to flee from home and take refuge somewhere else”.
“In the post-Covid-19 world that is emerging,” he added, “their contribution will be very much needed”.
Listen to Cardinal Czerny's prepared remarks at Tuesday's press conference: