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Bishops of Oriental Churches: message released at Fatima about “Catholics who migrate to Western countries”

“We, the bishops of the Oriental Catholic Churches in Europe, gathered in Fatima (Portugal) from the 20th to the 23rd of October for our annual meeting”, “reflected on the challenges of the pastoral care of the Oriental Catholic faithful who migrate to Western countries and, often, to places where they find themselves without their own pastors”. This is what the Message released at the conclusion of the meeting of the Oriental Catholic Bishops of Europe sponsored by the CCEE in Portugal states. The Council of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Europe was represented at Fatima by its president, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco. It was also attended by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, (Congregation for the Oriental Churches); by Patriarch Gregorios III Laham (Greek-Melkites); by the Apostolic Nuncio in Portugal, Mgr. Rino Passigato; and by the Archbishop of Braga, Mgr. Jorge Ortiga. The next meeting will take place in autumn 2017 in London (United Kingdom). The message also reads: “In our work we have been inspired and guided by the Word of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who has personally experienced the harrowing experience of those forced to leave their own homeland in search of new horizons”. The current migration “is an opportunity for the Church, because it opens to the gift of welcoming others”. The Bishops go on to express their gratitude to the local pastors and parish communities of the Latin Church in these countries “for their fatherly care and hospitality of our people, belonging to the Oriental Catholic Churches”. The message continues: “We, Oriental Catholic Bishops of Europe, are aware of our responsibility towards the faithful who are outside the borders of their Mother Church. We want to support and confirm each of them and their families. We give a particular attention to the families who are divided because of migration, in order to emphasize the beauty of the family and how much it is crucial to humanity”. “With this message we want to declare our willingness and our desire to cooperate more closely with the Latin pastors to provide a more and more appropriate pastoral care to our faithful who are living in their jurisdiction, as well as to promote the formation and awareness of the Latin clergy vis-à-vis the Oriental traditions, to more adequately train our own priests”. Furthermore, we “want to state that our commitment and pastoral care of the faithful is based on the principle of integration, not assimilation. We deem it very important that our faithful, organized in their pastoral centres, are well integrated into the local Church of the host country, because we are certain that the Oriental Christian traditions are a gift for the Latin communities too”. However, “even the Oriental traditions have to face the great challenge of secularism, which wants to pervert our Christian life. Therefore, the effort to incarnate the Gospel in the culture of our peoples, who are often prisoners of the present, will help us to make more vivid the perception of being part of a history that precedes and follows us”.

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