Pontifical Council on challenges of reaching out to victims of forced migration

2013-05-21 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) How can the Church boost its pastoral assistance to the victims of forced migration, especially at a time when more and more people worldwide are being forced to flee their homes largely because of conflict or persecution? This is the main topic being discussed by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People at its meeting in the Vatican this week. The Council’s Secretary is Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil who spoke to Susy Hodges.

Listen to the extended interview with Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil:

The Pastoral Solicitude of the Church in the context of Forced Migrations is the official theme of the Council’s Plenary Assembly which opens on Wednesday and Bishop Kalathiparambil explains how forced displacement of people is a “huge and growing” problem, especially as a result of the war in Syria, and says we must “try to help these poor victims.”

Asked about the problem of growing intolerance towards refugees among the host population when the influx is so large, Bishop Kalathiparambil says unfortunately this is sometimes the case when “increasing numbers of refugees” flee to neighbouring countries: ,”Naturally,” he says, "there will be a kind of fear and anxiety” (in the host countries) as to how to “handle this problem.” The bishop says that in order to help “overcome this xenophobia, we have to conscientize the (local) people.”

Bishop Kalathiparambil says although the Church is doing “its utmost” to reach out to the victims of forced migrations, one practical problem they face all the time is “lack of funds” and he told us how many visiting bishops from the local churches often mention this problem.