MANILA, Philippines - A senior Catholic bishop pushed over the weekend for more relevant ministries to families of migrant workers in a bid to prevent their breakup.
Cotabato Archbishop and Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences secretary general Orlando Quevedo also pushed for more regular meetings at the Vatican level to address migrants' concerns.
"The pastoral response I wish to present may be summarized in the following way: In the light of the universal mission of the Church to announce the Gospel of Jesus, relevant family ministry should be set up in every local church with the task of building communion and solidarity among members of families, among families and local churches. Such ministry should have a perspective of the Reign of God," Quevedo said in a recommendation to the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers dated May 15 but posted on his Web log Saturday night.
"It should respond to the needs of families in special situations, such as the families of migrants and itinerant peoples," he added.
The Pontifical Council was held at the Vatican earlier this week.
Quevedo, in his recommendation, said migrant workers and itinerant peoples constitute a global "diocese" or even a number of global "dioceses."
He recommended as well that those responsible in regional and continental Episcopal assemblies come together every two or three years under the leadership of the Pontifical Council.
Such meetings will be for discussing in depth two or three burning issues affecting migrant workers, itinerant peoples and their families, he said.
Quevedo pointed out that while migrant workers are aware they will leave behind their families, "all these they have decided to go through for the sake of a better future for their families."
"As migrants leave for work the temporary break-up of the family of migrants and itinerant peoples becomes actual. In the duration of their work contract, the separation of the members of the family will be keenly felt, even for those who have worked for several years away from their families with brief periods of vacation. Intermittent reunions will not completely assuage the loneliness of being separated from their families," he said.
"Moreover in the experience of many families, a permanent breakup is not only possible. It can be real, as when the migrant or itinerant worker falls into other relationships either casually with many persons or permanently with one person. These relationships can ruin the relationship that the migrant worker has with the family that is left behind," he added.
As such, Quevedo said family ministries have to be shaped to address such concerns.
On the other hand, he said it is equally important that the church at the migrant worker's host country also give similar ministry of care and service.
"Concretely, this means the active presence and ministry of chaplains and pastoral workers to whom migrant workers and itinerant peoples can refer their problems and find a listening ear and caring hand. Letters of introduction would also help. It is important for pastoral workers to know a little bit of the cultures of migrants and itinerant workers and be able to speak to speak to them in a language they understand," he said.
"My suggestion is for pastoral care and activities to go beyond worship, socialization and fellowship and into ongoing formation and empowerment for integral evangelization," he added. - GMANews.TV