Thursday, May 29, 2008


My purpose in this presentation is to reflect with you on the draft 2008 Archdiocesan Vision-Mission Statement in the light of the 2000 Archdiocesan Vision Mission Statement and on the priority areas indicated by 28 parishes.

My objectives are to show the continuity and the relationship between the two Statements; and to indicate how the priority areas pointed out by the parishes for APA 2008 may be considered and used.

A. The 2008 APA Theme: Isang Simbahan, Isang Pangarap

The 2000 APA envisioned that all the faithful in the Archdiocese of Cotabato (lay people, religious, and clergy) be genuine disciples of Jesus and a genuine community. This community of believers in Jesus has to be united as One Church, in communion with God, with one another, and with creation. This element of the 2000 Archdiocesan vision aspiring to be a united Church, Isang Simbahan, has been highlighted as the theme of VI APA, 2008.

Oneness is an apostolic mark of the true Church. It is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Oneness is our identity. It is the very nature of Church. In Christ, we are one Church. We have one mission – the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus, the Lord and the Savior of the world.

But there are many gifts given to the Church by the Spirit of Jesus for this one mission. Various sectors of the Church have their own gifts, roles, functions. Thus we have the laity and their own roles and responsibilities in the secular world, the religious with their vocations and roles in the Church for the sake of mission, the clergy with their own gifts of ordination and personal roles.

Because of the many gifts, roles, and responsibilities in the church, it is the role of bishops to coordinate the various gifts in the Church so that we may all be one and united for the mission of announcing the Gospel. This is another deeper meaning of “Isang Simbahan” – unity of diverse gifts within the Church, diverse gifts working as one towards the mission.

Although the Church is by nature One, sometimes the diversity of roles are not very well united and coordinated. They are divided, they are sometimes in conflict, they are often subject to self-interest or even vested interest, they are not effective in achieving the mission. It is in the light of this weakness that we at APA 2008 aspire to be what we claim to be -- One Church.

In addition, sometimes we have different purposes and goals that clash with one another. One group would want the whole Archdiocese to be built on PREX, another group would want one religious movement or organization to take over all the formation program, and perhaps the senior citizens of the clergy, including the archbishop, would want one half of all the financial support system of the Archdiocese to be set aside for retirement and sickness benefit of the clergy. This would not, of course, be right. That is why as One Church, we should have one united aspiration – Isang Pangarap.

This why we have the theme: Isang Simbahan, Isang Pangarap.

B. Revisiting the 2000 Archdiocesan Vision

Let us now revisit the 2000 Archdiocesan Vision-Mission Statement in the light our 2008 Vision-Mission. Thus:


In the light of our pastoral situation and impelled by our hope in Christ, We [the entire faithful of the Archdiocese of Cotabato]


… envision ourselves as genuine disciples of Jesus both in word and deed.

We envision ourselves as Church, in solidarity with the poor among us, living like Jesus in evangelical poverty, promoting justice and peace as Church of the Poor.

We envision ourselves as an inculturated Church, understandable and credible to all cultures in our archdiocese in its announcing of the Kingdom of God.

We envision ourselves a genuine community of disciples, striving together in communion with God, with one another, and with creation.

We shall be a participatory Church whose members activate their God-given gifts and charisms in full co-responsibility toward the mission and work of the Church according to their vocations and various ways of life.


We are convinced that our vision and mission are best concretized through the Archdiocesan pastoral thrust of building Basic Ecclesial Communities that reflect at the level of parishes and chapels, our vision of Church and our mission of integral evangelization.

For this reason our central pastoral priority, the core focus of our evangelization efforts is the transformation of the Family into a renewed and renewing domestic Church.

In a special way, in view of our pastoral situation, we shall emphasize the task of faith formation, justice, development and peace and reconciliation, especially between Muslims and Christians. We shall give priority to the poorest of the poor among whom are our indigenous brothers and sisters. We shall ensure that all our pastoral programs, movements and organizations shall be oriented and work actively toward this vision and mission.

[Commitment and Prayer]

To this vision of Church renewed and renewing with a mission of integral evangelization, we commit ourselves. We entrust ourselves to the loving intercession and protection of our Blessed Mother of the Immaculate Conception, the Patroness of our Archdiocese, who with our Lord Jesus acts at all times as our guide to the Kingdom of God, which is now and forever.


On the other hand, we have just approved our 2008 Archdiocesan Vision-Mission Statement:

Sino? – Kaming mga mananampalataya ng Arkidiyoses ng Cotabato

Ano? – Ay naghahangad ng nagkakaisang simbahang [One Church]
nakaugat kay Kristo [Rooted in Christ],
totoong maka-Diyos [pro-God],
maka-maralita [pro-poor = Church of the Poor]
may matatag na pananalig at paninindigan [Authentic
at may aktibong partisipasyong ang lahat [Participatory

Paano? – Isasakatuparan namin ito (sa aming patuloy na paglalakbay)
[a Pilgrim Church]
sa pamamagitan ng pagtataguyod ng
Mumunting Pamayanang (Kristiyano) [BEC]
buhay na sumasaksi [Witnessing]
sa pagbabago at pagkaaktibo sa bawat aspeto ng buhay
[Integral Renewal, Integral Evangelization]
sa pagkalinga sa kapwa [Care / Service for Neighbor]
sa pagpapahalaga sa iba’t ibang kultura at pananam-
palataya [Inculturated Church, Inter-Religious Dialogue],
sa pagmamahal sa kalikasan [Care for the Environment]
sa paggalang sa lahat ng nilikha [Concern for all Creation].
sa pakikipagdayalogo tungo sa kapayapan [Dialogue for
at sa pag-aaral upang maunawaan ang mga tanda ng
ng panahon [Discerning the Signs of the Times]

The above 2008 Archdiocesan Vision-Mission Statement is a re-echo of PCP-II. Thus in English:

We, the faithful [Lay, Religious, and Clergy]
in the Archdiocese of Cotabato envision ourselves
to be a truly united Church,
rooted in Christ,
pro-God and pro-poor,
a firmly committed disciple-community
that is participatory.


We shall journey towards this vision
through the building of Basic Ecclesial Communities that credibly work for and witness to:
Integral renewal and integral evangelization;
Care for others [particularly the poor];
Respect for other cultures and religious beliefs;
Love [care] for the environment;
Respect for the rest of creation;
Dialogue for peace; and
On-going discernment of the signs of the times.

Some Observations: Continuity of Vision - Mission

- Similarities of Vision
· Church of the Poor
· Inculturated Church
· Participatory Church
· Authentic Discipleship

- Similarities of Mission:
· Building BEC
· Peace and Dialogue for Peace

- Dissimilarities of Vision-Mission:
· Integral Evangelization – 2000 Mission; 2008 Vision
· 2008 Vision - Rootedness in Christ, pro-God, concern for Environment (implied in 2000 Mission)
· 2000 Mission – Family as Focal Point of Evangelization, Faith Formation, Justice, Peace, Development, Reconciliation, Orienting all Pastoral Programs to Vision-Mission
· 2008 Mission – Respect/Service to Neighbor (implies justice, peace, development, reconciliation
· Emphasis in the 2008 Vision-Mission on the crucial element of discerning the signs of the times.

Comment: Do we have here a break from the 2000 Vision-Vision? Or do we consider the absence of the major emphasis on Family and Faith Formation in the 2008 Mission as implied and perhaps part of the Strategic Plan that is still to come? I think this is the case.

C. Our work at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Assembly:

· Proclaim and celebrate the final Archdiocesan Vision-Mission
· Priority and Goal Setting at the Archdiocesan level

D. Priority Areas:

A new process:

From what I observe the whole archdiocese was involved in discerning pastoral priorities in the light of the draft vision-mission of the archdiocese and in the light of their parish socio-economic, political, religious and cultural situation (environmental scanning). This took place in several community gatherings at the BEC level to the parish. The process of discernment is similar to that of 2000 prioritizing: from grassroots to the top. However for the 2000 vision, the grassroots participated only through their delegates to the APA. For the 2008 vision-mission prioritizing, the delegates brought with them the results of the prioritizing already done at the grassroots. This is a more reliable and more participatory. More reliable because at APA we are certain of the thinking of the grassroots regarding the priorities they desire.

The process consisted in answering a question which I understand to be the following: “Based on the draft vision-mission statement of the Archdiocese and on environmental scanning, what would your parish consider as the first pastoral priority?” The following are the collated answers:

Kaming mga mananampalataya sa Arkidiyoses ng Cotabato:

· ay naghahangad ng nagkakaisang Simbahan -- 5 parishes
· totoong maka-Diyos -- 5 parishes
· may aktibong partisipasyong ang lahat -- 5 parishes
· may matatag na pananalig at paninindigan -- 5 parishes
· pag-aaral upang maunawaan and mga
tanda ng panahon -- 4 parishes
· bukas sa pagbabago at aktibo sa bawat
aspeto ng buhay -- 3 parishes
· nakaugat kay Kristo -- 2 parishes
· nagpapahalaga sa iba’t ibang kultura
at pananampalataya -- 1 parish
· pagtataguyod ng Mumunting Pamayanan -- 1 parish
· nagmamahal sa kalikasan -- 1 parish
· nakikipagdayalogo tungo sa kapayapaan -- 1 parish

If we study the above, we see that priorities have been made by the parishes on various elements of the vision-mission statement. Some are priorities in the vision (those in bold); others are priorities in the mission (italicized).

On the other hand, pastoral prioritizing the 2000 APA was mainly on the elements of mission (e.g, Building BEC, faith formation, family as pastoral focal point, justice, peace, development work, inter-religious dialogue, orienting all pastoral programs toward the vision-mission statement, etc.

It also seems to me that the 2008 priorities both in the vision and mission elements indicate a picture more of the parish desire than of the desire of the Archdiocese. This has to be so because environmental scanning for the Archdiocese is necessarily different from particular parishes. For instance, Pikit with its Muslim-Christian population would have a different priority from that of Langgal-Gapok with its problems of environment. The Archdiocesan vision-mission would have to consider these two priorities in its over-all perspective but the priority given to these two elements might be different at the Archdiocesan level.

Therefore, an archdiocesan vision-mission statement does not intend to tell each parish what pastoral priority it should have. For instance the element, “Isasakatuparan namin ito sa pamagitan ng pagtataguyod ng Mumunting Pamayanan” - even if only one parish selected it as its first priority, it remains as a fundamental element of the Archdiocesan Vision-Mission. Other parishes have their own priorities. They tell more of the desire of individual parishes than of the Archdiocesan desire. That is the way I would understand the collated priorities.

In addition, even if only five parishes chose “kami’y naghahangad ng nagkaisang Simbahan” as their first priority, one can hardly use less than one fifth of the parishes as expressing the desire of all the 28 parishes of the Archdiocese. 23 parishes did not choose this as their first priority. And yet I am sure that the aspiration to be One Church is the general desire of all the parishes.

Further, one element of the Vision-Mission is “kami’y nakaugat kay Kristo.” We all know that the Church comes from Christ and has to be rooted in Christ. In another image, Christ said, “I am the Vine, you are the branches.” Cut off from the vine, the branch has no life. Therefore, rootedness in Christ is fundamental for the whole community, the Archdiocese, to be an authentic disciple of Christ. Yet only two parishes made this as their first pastoral priority. It means that at the moment it is their most felt-need.

E. Archdiocesan Priorities

At the Archdiocesan level, I suggest the first three priorities of the Archdiocese based on my pastoral visitation to different parishes:

1. the need for more active, more participatory, more evangelizing Basic Ecclesial Communities with more effective trained lay leaders (element no. 10 of the Vision-Mission Statement).

2. The need for more and better faith formation of members of Basic Ecclesial Communities as implied by element nos. 3 to 7 and 11 of the Vision-Mission Satement, naka-ugat kay Kristo, maka-Diyos, maka-maralita, may aktibong partisipasyon, may matatag na pananalig at paninindigan, bukas sa pagbabago at aktibo sa bawat aspeto ng buhay.

3. Need for better and more effective social services for farmers and indigenous peoples in so far as the Church could provide, networking with the government and non-government organizations (see elements nos. 5 and 12, maka-maralita, buhay na sumasaksi sa pagkalinga sa kapwa).

F. Recommendations on Handling Pastoral Priorities

Finally, what should we do with all the priorities identified?
Regarding how to handle them, these are my recommendations:

1. Let each parish use the priorities it has chosen or will choose for its pastoral strategic planning;

2. At the Archdiocesan level let all the Archdiocesan pastoral program and APT consider in their own pastoral strategic planning the main pastoral priorities that the parishes have expressed.

3. Let all the pastoral programs at the pastoral level be ready to serve the different parishes in meeting their own parish priorities.

4. The pastoral priorities at the level of the archdiocese are common objectives for all the parishes. Let all the parishes move as One Church towards meeting these priorities (e.g., the three priorities I have mentioned above). This would be one concrete meaning of Isang Simbahan, Isang Pangarap.


This is what I have done in this reflection:

1. I have provided a theological basis for the theme of APA, Isang Simbahan, Isang Pangarap.

2. I have shown a continuity as well as a dissimilarity between the 2000 Archdiocesan Vision-Mission Statement and the 2008 Statement. Continuity means that the environmental scanning done for both APA was valid. Dissimilarity means that there have been new insights from the process of discernment on the pastoral situation.

3. Finally I have recommended several ways by which the priorities may be handled, both at the parish level and also at the level of the Archdiocese, i.e., Parish priorities and Archdiocesan (common) priorities.

I thank you most deeply for your participation. Thank you.

+Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I.
VI Archdiocesan Pastoral AssemblyTamontaka
May 28, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

Communion, Solidarity and Mission: Response to the Breakup of the Family of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples


The phenomenon of migrants and itinerant peoples of various kinds from workers to refugees has been discussed thoroughly in the past few days at this seminar. Through various conferences we have become more aware of their social, political, cultural, religious, and economic situation. The litany of problems seems to be endless. The problems differ, sometimes in kind and sometimes in degree, from country to country. All these constitute the pastoral situation of migrant workers and itinerant peoples.

My subject matter is limited, namely, the issue of the breakup of the family of migrant workers and itinerant peoples. And the question is simple – what can we do to respond to family breakup?

May I attempt to develop a general pastoral response to this tragic situation.

The pastoral perspective that I shall assume is inspired by three decades of pastoral reflection on various pastoral challenges by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC). The Federation is composed of all the bishops in Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia – from Kazakhstan to East Timor.

The themes that FABC uses to reflect on the pastoral situation include the following:

(1) in the light of the Asian pastoral situation the mission of announcing the Gospel of Jesus is by way of a triple dialogue – dialogue with the peoples of Asia especially the majority poor, dialogue with the various cultures of Asia, and dialogue with the different religions of Asia;

(2) for the common task of social transformation in the Asian situation of religious pluralism, a common basis for action is the universal Reign of God;

(3) the local church is the acting subject of mission;

(4) international collaboration is necessary to face the challenges in the common journey to God’s Reign;

(5) According to the 7th and 8th FABC Plenary Assemblies, the situation of itinerant and migrant workers is one of the major pastoral priorities in Asia.

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. It should respond to the needs of families in special situations, such as the families of migrants and itinerant peoples.

1. A Family Ministry in Dialogue with Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

Without doubt the great majority migrants and itinerant peoples leave their homes and work in other countries without referring themselves to their local church. They go to recruiting agencies and work out their travel and immigration papers directly through them. In many cases they receive only a minimum of information about the receiving countries, the people and their cultures, the employers that hire them, conditions of work, the customs of the people among whom they will work. If they go to countries with a predominantly different religion, they have only little knowledge about the risks to their own faith, the problems of practicing their faith, the pressures on them because of differences of faith.

In general they are aware of the problems of living apart from their families for an extended period of time, the pressures on the brothers, sisters, and parents they leave behind, and particularly on their spouses and children. At the end as Ecclesia in Asia (1999) says, “In the countries to which they come, these people often find themselves friendless, culturally estranged, linguistically disadvantaged and economically vulnerable” (no. 34).

But all these they have decided to go through for the sake of a better future for their families. The future of their family is uppermost in their minds.

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.

But it is not only loneliness or homesickness that is of concern to families. It is the negative impact that the absence of perhaps a key member of the family (e.g., a father or mother, an older brother or sister) would have on the family itself, on the natural growth and development of the children.

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.

Given the above situation of temporary and permanent family breakup, possible or actual, and the many other social, cultural, religious, economic and legal problems that have been mentioned at this seminar, the setting up of a family ministry at the churches of origin and destination is imperative. Among its tasks would be to help migrants and itinerants regarding legal cases and to be their advocates regarding their rights. But family ministry has to go beyond these tasks.

Family ministry has to be in dialogue with migrant workers and itinerant peoples. Pastoral workers have to know them, their life situations, their conditions of work. Dialogue with them will reveal their real pastoral situation, their priority needs, and the ways by which effective response can be given to their situation. Through such dialogue an effective family ministry with the proper social dimensions on behalf of migrants and itinerant peoples can be set up. Without such dialogue a pastoral response can be misdirected and irrelevant.

2. A Family Ministry that Cares and Serves

Family breakup contradicts the nature of marriage and family. The Lord of families calls the local churches to do the task of explaining in a credible and convincing manner the nature of marriage and of family as a communion of love and care.

This task also aims at educating members of families to reflect in their lives and relationships the communion that they are called to be. The family is a sanctuary within which the unity of husband, wife and children is fostered. It is God’s gift to them for the sake of salvation. In this way their natural desire for unity in love is consciously brought to the realm of the spirit and of the Reign of God. Such formation in faith given by the local church regarding marriage and family builds communion and solidarity within the family. It prepares them to live up to their family commitments while one or more members of the family depart for work in a foreign country.

The task of formation and education requires a family ministry that cares for and serves families of migrants and itinerant peoples.

When migrants and itinerants actually leave for their places of work, the local church of origin still has the task helping maintain and promote the communion and solidarity of the family. Through pastoral guidance and encouragement, the local church provides the spiritual resources that give them strength to bear and cope with separation.

On the other hand, in communion and solidarity with the local church of origin and with the migrant and itinerant worker, the church of arrival has to provide a similar ministry of care and service. It begins with a “ministry of welcome” (see Erga migrantes caritas Christi, no. 40). In this way the “stranger” will find a home away from home -- in the Lord’s household that is the Church. The local church of arrival is not only a place where migrants and itinerant peoples go for worship. It should be a place where they find “family” belongingness, friendship and fellowship in community. Simple celebrations of birthdays and other anniversaries take on greater meaning when celebrated within such fellowships.

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. The lack of ability to communicate in a language that is understood is one of the most serious causes of loneliness and alienation. Associations of migrants and itinerant peoples will add to the spirit of common strength, belongingness and fellowship they find in the church.

Such pastoral care was envisioned by the FABC at its 8th Plenary Assembly held in Daejeon, Korea in 2004 on the topic: “The Asian Family towards a Culture of Integral Life.”

One of its pastoral recommendations is the setting up of family ministries in Asia that “form and empower,” “care and serve,” and “promote social transformation.” Among the special programs of a caring and serving family ministry, the Plenary Assembly recommended “setting up programs for families with migrant workers abroad and helping migrant workers before they leave and when they return” (Final Document, no. 119).

The FABC vision of family ministry in Asia calls for pastoral programs that should “make the inner resources of our faith (the sacraments, liturgy, prayer, day-to-day spirituality) available to couples and heir families in their striving toward a culture of integral life… and should empower families to become evangelizers, such that ministry is not only for families but by families” (no. 116).

3. A Family Ministry that Forms and Empowers

Beyond the simple idea of receiving pastoral care is the universal mission, valid also for migrants and itinerants, to evangelize others. For this reason, a family ministry should form and empower in the faith. In communion and solidarity both the church of origin and the church of destination have to work on empowering migrants and itinerant peoples to become evangelizers.

It is well known that by the dynamism of their religious faith migrant workers and itinerant peoples have impressed peoples with weakened faith or with hardly any practical faith. Domestic workers in many countries of Europe bring the children of their employers to church on Sundays, teach them how to pray and what the basic tenets of the Church are.

In the churches of origin faith formation and empowerment can be done through the regular catechetical and biblical programs at the parish level in collaboration with the family ministry of the parish. The local church should especially emphasize formation to a spirituality of communion in the family:

… at the heart of the family is Communion, communion with God, communion of the spouses, communion of young or elderly parents and their children, communion with grandparents and other members of the extended family…. It is a union of hearts and minds that in a human way reflects the communion of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the Triune God from whom the family came to be…. Communion within the family, however, reaches out to the wider community and impels the family toward a mission of service for the sake of the Reign of God. This outward movement enables the family to share the Trinitarian communion that it is gifted with. A spirituality of communion infuses vigor and enthusiasm – life – into the dynamics of the family, the relationship between spouses, between parents and children, between members of the extended family (8th FABC Plenary Assembly, Daejeon, Korea, August 17-23, 2004, Final Document, nos. 105-106).

A spirituality of communion, unity, and solidarity will definitely help spouses and children cope better with the aches and pains of temporary separation. Kept alive through prayer and communication, it would also serve to overcome temptations to permanent separation.

In the churches of arrival, migrant workers and itinerant peoples could follow a designed program of catechesis and have on-going faith and biblical formation. For instance Filipino migrant workers who come together for Mass and socialization every Sunday could have on-going faith formation for an hour after the Mass and before their socialization and fellowship activities. [In Rome student priests at the Pontificio Collegio Filippino are assigned to various churches on Sundays where Filipino migrants and itinerants gather for Mass and fellowship. They act as chaplains providing religious services, giving spiritual conferences, helping organize them, and bringing them together for various events, social and religious. This is a practice that can not be replicated in other places, simply because of the lack of chaplains].

But on the issue of on-going formation and empowerment, an initiative in some countries like the Philippines is significant in the light of the concerns of migrants and itinerant people. This is the training of pastoral workers. A week-long course was started six years ago by the Scalabrini Migration Center in Manila in collaboration with the Philippine Bishops’ Commission on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. This was designed to train pastoral workers for migrants. Last January the course was attended by 46 pastoral workers from Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines. They went through learning modules covering the migrant situation in Asia, church teachings on migration, the mission with migrants in Asia, specific issues on the care of migrants, networking and planning future programs.

The more programs there are to train pastoral workers, the better for the mission of caring and serving migrants and their families.

My suggestion is for pastoral care and activities to go beyond worship, socialization and fellowship and into ongoing formation and empowerment for integral evangelization.

Evangelizing by migrants and itinerant peoples may seem to be idealistic but for many Filipino migrant workers this is already a lived experience. Already many Filipino migrants who belong to various lay religious movements such as El Shaddai, Couples for Christ, and other charismatic groups follow the faith formation sessions of their lay groups.

It is a matter simply of consciously bringing the missionary or evangelizing dimension into the on-going faith formation session and continuing what may already have been started at the local church of origin.

Here again we see the great need of collaboration – of communion and solidarity for mission among migrants and itinerant peoples, between them and the local churches of origin and arrival.

4. In Dialogue with Other Cultures and Religions

What has been said so far would seem to apply only in places where migrants and itinerant peoples can practice their own religion freely and where local churches of origin and destination play a great role.

But the great majority of Asian migrants and itinerant peoples live and work in countries where they cannot freely and safely practice a religion different from that of their host country. In such countries temporary separation from one’s own family becomes even more acute. They are deprived of the strength and consolation that religious faith and fellowship could provide even when a celebration is merely a birthday or anniversary.

It is in this situation that prior formation and empowerment in the local church of origin is important and imperative. Prior faith formation can help migrant workers and itinerant peoples cope with the pressures of work in a country of different religious persuasion and where religious conversion in order to have better work conditions and higher compensation is always a severe temptation.

Only a dialogue of life is possible in such situation. For domestic workers, more restricted to the home of employers perhaps not even this is possible. Friendship and fellowship with peoples of other faiths and cultures would certainly ease the aches of homesickness and being separated from families.

Moreover, dialogue – solidarity and collaboration (or diplomatic arrangemenst) -- between governments with peoples of predominantly different religions will go a long way to make migrants and itinerant peoples feel at home in their countries of work.

5. Solidarity and Collaboration at the International Level

Beyond decent and humane working conditions is a mutuality and reciprocity of rights, especially of the fundamental freedom of religion, based on the universal golden rule – “Do unto others what you want them do unto you.” Recent appeals by the Holy Father for such reciprocity of rights and freedom of religion have raised the consciousness of people around the world regarding this human rights issue. It has also raised the bar of inter-religious dialogue a bit higher.

To promote this reciprocity of rights and to ensure that peoples of different faiths practice their religion freely and safely everywhere would be a paramount responsibility of international decision makers. It needs dialogue, solidarity, and collaboration between States. It would also be necessary for the United Nations to act determinedly on this issue in accord with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Dialogue towards recognizing and practicing reciprocity of the freedom of religion is a task needing the utmost mutual respect, openness, persistence and determination. For if States do not recognize such freedom for their own citizen-minorities, how much more difficult it would be for States to recognize the same freedom to migrants and itinerant workers.

Dialogue, solidarity and collaboration at the international level should also address another burning issue – the issue of reuniting the families of migrants and of recognizing their rights as families, according them the same protection as other families (see the Holy See’s Charter of the Rights of the Family, 1983, Article 12).

Granted that there are many obstacles that prevent effective resolution, including concerns about internal security, economics and demography, the obstacles are not insurmountable. The pastoral care of migrants and itinerant peoples would call for local and international advocacy on these issues regarding family unification and family rights.

To be highly commended is the work of non-governmental organizations both at the local and international levels, such as the International Catholic Migration Commission, that pushes the advocacy of the Church and its dicasteries forward at various fora. Advocacy is part and parcel of pastoral care and strives to press forward ethical decisions on migrants and their families in accord with the teachings of the Church.

2. A Common Basis for Pastoral Work toward Communion and Solidarity -- the Reign of God

In a situation where peoples of different religious traditions and their governments are involved, the pastoral care of migrant workers and itinerant peoples would require a common perspective. We who believe in Jesus Christ are guided in our work by this belief in Jesus and by the mission of proclaiming him as the Lord and Savior of the world. This is our unique perspective. We need to keep this perspective in our consciousness. It should always motivate and energize our pastoral work.

But in the care of migrant workers and itinerants, collaboration and solidarity with other religious traditions and their governments would require a common perspective. This is provided by the perspective of God’s Reign. Brothers and sisters under the one God are on a journey together towards God’s Reign which comes definitively a the end of time. We are in the “now and not yet” dimension of God’s Reign. We are called to make this one globalized world a safe home for all, a home to be built on justice, truth, freedom, peace, and love. These are fundamental values of the Reign of God.

It is this perspective of God’s Reign, of God’s loving dominion over us, that pulls together efforts of various religions and ideologies to respond to the family breakup of migrant workers and itinerant peoples.


To the question how can we respond effectively to the breakup of the family of migrant workers and itinerant peoples, I have attempted to provide a pastoral response in the light of reflections of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.

The response concretely calls for a triple dialogue – with the poor, with cultures, and religious traditions. It calls for the setting up of a family ministry that is in dialogue with migrants and itinerants, with their cultures and religious traditions.

It is a family ministry that cares and serves, forms and empowers for mission. Formation towards a spirituality of communion which is at the heart of marriage and the family is the key element of this pastoral response.

The response also calls for solidarity and collaboration between churches of origin and arrival, and between States at the international level. The crux of the matter is reciprocity and mutuality of rights, particularly of the freedom of religion. When migrant workers and itinerant peoples enjoy freedom of religion, they are able to avail themselves of the spiritual resources of their faith. They are better able to cope with pressures of temporary family breakup and the severe temptations to permanent family break-up.

The common basis of action for such solidarity and collaboration is the universal journey of all peoples towards the Reign of God, a journey towards justice and truth, peace, freedom and love.

A Recommendation to the Pontifical Council

In two full days we have listened to 22 conferences on the situation of various kinds of migrant workers and itinerant peoples. For us who are new to this ministry of pastoral care, the conferences have given us an excellent panoramic view of the pastoral situation. But due to time constraints we may not have been able to explore major issues in depth.

In a certain sense, migrant workers and itinerant peoples constitute a global “diocese” or even a number of global “dioceses.”

Therefore, for a better and more effective collaboration and solidarity, may I respectfully recommend that those responsible in regional and continental Episcopal assemblies come together every two or three years under the leadership of the Pontifical Council for the purpose of discussing in depth two or three burning issues affecting migrant workers, itinerant peoples and their families.

Thank you.

+Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Cotabato
FABC Secretary General
Rome, May 15, 2008