By F. M. Britto
Raipur, August 25, 2019: The Conference of Catholic Bishops’ of India’s (CCBI) newly constituted Commission for Migrants has charted ten-point pastoral plan for the care of migrants in India.
In their first meeting held at Raipur, Chhattisgarh, the members have described their plan to work “to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate” the migrants, as told by Pope Francis at the 104th World day of Migrants and Refugees on Jan 14, 2018.
As the first priority, the commission wants to establish its units in the dioceses and regions, appointing suitable secretaries, who have experience and expertise, to carry out the national commission’s programmes for the migrants, victims of human trafficking, internally displaced peoples and climate refugees.
The commission wants to “monitor the trends of migration, prevent victimization of the vulnerable, and advocate with the government for appropriate protection.”
They want the diocesan and regional commissions “to offer pre-departure orientation programmes and to avoid the risk of irregular migration like servitude, slave labour, work place abuses etc.”
Collecting data of the migrants, they want to ensure their registration in their source and destinations.
The Commission also wants to develop welcome programmes in the dioceses and train them to get integrated into the host community and enable them to contribute effectively in their new residential places.
They also want “to ensure the inclusion of the migrants’ children in the Catholic educational institutions, and the families into the health and diocesan social work programs.”
The commission plans to develop educational programmes to be offered to church leaders, religious congregations, parishes, Catholic schools and seminaries on safe migration, Human Trafficking, Internally displaced persons, climate change and climate refugees.
It also plans to offer humanitarian services like sharing food, temporary shelters, health services, help-desk and other social support services in an emergency situation.
They also envisage to foster cooperation in responding to the challenges of migration, human trafficking and other issues connected to these within the different offices and structures of the Catholic Church, religious congregations, Catholic organizations and networks.
The Commission also to plans “to establish a national platform to respond to the challenges of migration and human trafficking which would serve to share data, evidences, concerns, best practices, documents and materials”.
Quoting Hebrews 13:1-3, the commission has appealed to show hospitality to strangers, the prisoners and those who were tortured.
Besides the chairman Archbishop Victor Henry Thakur of Raipur, the meeting was attended by the vice-chairman Archbishop Elias Gonsalves of Nagpur, CCBI deputy secretary general Father Stephen Alathara, and Father Jaison Vadassery, the secretary of the commission. Bishop Soundaraj Periyanayagam of Vellore, the second member of the commission, could not be present.