On March 10, the Department of Migrants and Refugees, which belongs to the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, held a working meeting to prepare for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which will be celebrated on September 25. The organizers of the event proposed two questions for the guests: 1) how can the Church include migrants and refugees in Catholic communities, and 2) how can the Church and Catholic entities work to build a better future for refugees.
Representing the International Confederation of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, brother Renato Lima de Oliveira, 16th +President General, attended the event online. More than 20 members of the Dicastery participated in the discussions, both in person and remotely, including the Order of Malta, Caritas International and several religious and missionary congregations (such as the Jesuits, Franciscans, Salesians, Dominicans and Marianists, among others).
The President emphasized: “The migrant needs practically everything, from the basics, such as shelter and food, to other needs such as access to education, employment, health care, and psychological and spiritual support. They have lost everything and are now wandering aimlessly in foreign lands, facing new cultural realities. It is a great challenge, and all members of the Vincentian Family have to welcome them with charity and empathy. The tragedy of the refugees is a challenge for all humanity”.
All those present at the event were unanimous in recognizing the precarious situation of refugees and migrants, who are forced to leave their homeland because of wars, political and religious persecutions, as well as for economic reasons, in search of better living conditions for their families. They need language classes, affirmative actions for effective integration into their new realities, job opportunities and psychological support, since they are victims of indifference and prejudice. The entities present shared their best practices in welcoming migrants and refugees in various parts of the world.
To conclude, brother Renato declared that the SSVP and the entire International Vincentian Family deplore the Russian military operation on Ukrainian territory, advocating an immediate end to the war through diplomatic channels. Since the beginning of the conflict, more than two million Ukrainians have left their country and migrated towards neighbouring countries. Brother Renato also took the opportunity to recall other conflicts currently underway in the world that deserve the same indignation of the entire civil society.
The next Vatican meeting on this topic will take place on December 6-7, and the SSVP, as an official member of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, will again be asked to contribute to these discussions.