VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With the help of the Migrant and Refugee Section of the Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, eight bishops’ conferences in Latin America have joined efforts to assist Venezuelans in transit through or settling in their home countries.
Called “Bridges of Solidarity,” the two-year pastoral program seeks to “find common solutions to the challenges posed by the massive flow of Venezuelans, who have decided to move to another South American country in recent years,” the Vatican office said in a press release May 7.
After a period of study and discussion, the bishops’ conferences of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru forged a coordinated action plan to offer needed services to Venezuelans, other vulnerable migrants and the local communities that host them, the office said.
The initiative was a response to Pope Francis’ call to “welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees” and reflects many of recommendations made in the guide put out by the Migrant and Refugee Section: “Responding to Refugees and Migrants: Twenty Action Points.”
The project, which was launched in May, is expected to assist “hundreds of thousands” of Venezuelans, Scalabrini Father Fabio Baggio, undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section, told reporters May 7.
The section’s other undersecretary, Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, told reporters how valuable it is for migrants to receive even just basic information when they arrive in a new country.
“I happen to be a refugee myself,” said the priest, who was born in the former communist Czechoslovakia and raised in Canada.
He said every refugee and migrant arrives in a new place wondering, “What awaits you? What lies ahead? What do you need to know now” so as to be better prepared, and not surprised or disappointed?
It’s important, he said, that “as people undertake these difficult journeys, they are supplied with good information all along the way.”
“That is also a form of prevention of trafficking,” he said, “because people are trafficked when they lack the necessary information in order to make good decisions.”
Some of the services, which will be run by parishes, local Caritas organizations and other Catholic providers, include:
— Shelters and centers for vulnerable migrants;
— Help with job and housing searches, work and stay permits, and social inclusion;
— Facilitated access to education and health services;
— Training for church workers providing assistance and awareness campaigns.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103