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TOGETHER IN THE MISSION WE HOLD IN COMMON

Pastoral Care of the Road/Street

RoadINTERNATIONAL

SYMPOSIUM

Pastoral Care of the Road/Street

PLAN OF ACTION

in response to the phenomenon

of children, women earning a living or

living on roads and streets,

and their families

in the light of Teachings of POPE FRANCIS

and the conclusions of 8 international / continental meetings

organized by PCPCMIP since2003

FINAL DOCUMENT

 

EVENT

WE, the participants of the International Symposium on the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street,

coming from 42 countries, representing all continents in the world: America, Europe, The

Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Oceania, and from 12 Catholic institutions and religious

congregations; organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and

Itinerant People, with the support of donor institutions, held in the Vatican City, on 13th-17th

September 2015, on the theme: PLAN OF ACTION in response to the phenomenon of

children and women who are compelled by various factors to earn a living or to live on roads

and streets and their families; studied in the light of the Teachings of POPE FRANCIS and the

conclusions of previous 8 international and continental meetings organized by PCPCMIP since

2003; enlightened by the continental presentations on the concerned phenomenon which is

treated in the Guidelines on the Pastoral Care of the Road issued by PCPCMIP on 24th May 2007,

and the conferences on family and human trafficking; also taking into consideration the VIII

World Meeting of Families [USA, September 2015], the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of

the Synod of Bishops on Family [Vatican, October 2015] and the Jubilee Year of Mercy

[December 2015-2016]:

with filial devotion and obedience, humbly present to our beloved Holy Father,

POPE FRANCIS, the following reflections and recommendations for his kind

consideration:

REFELCTIONS

WE, INSPIRED BY THE WORD OF GOD which manifests God’s preferential love for the

poor: “Let the weak and the orphan have justice, be fair to the wretched and the destitute.

Rescue the weak and the needy, save them from the clutches of the wicked” [Psalm 82: 3-4], and

“The oppressed and needy search for water, and there is none, their tongue is parched with

thirst. I, Yahweh, shall answer them. I, the God of Israel, shall not abandon them” [Isaiah 41:

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17]; which lays down the path of salvation according to the Gospel of Matthew: “For I was

hungry, you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made

me welcome, lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you

came to see me…[Mt 25:35 ff]; and which thus reminds us of our vocation in the context of the

pastoral care of the road: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring

good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to

let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord” [Luke 4:18-19; cf. Isaiah

61];

GUIDED BY THE TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH: which states that “there is a growing

awareness of the exalted dignity proper to the human person, since he stands above all things,

and his rights and duties are universal and inviolable. Therefore, there must be made available

to all men everything necessary for leading a life truly human, such as food, clothing, and

shelter…the right to found a family, the right to education, to employment, to a good

reputation, to respect…” [ Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, the Pastoral Constitution on

the Church in the Modern Word Gaudium et spes, n° 26] and as taught by Pope John Paul II that

the dignity of the human person was definitively restored to him by the redemption that took

place through the cross, giving him back meaning to his life and existence in the world [cf.

Redemptoris Missio, 1999, n° 2; cf. Redemptor Hominis, 1979, n° 10];

ALSO DESIRING TO GIVE A RENEWED VOICE TO THE VOICE OF THE SYNODAL

FATHERS WHO RECOGNIZE:

in Eccesia i Africa in 1995 that, despite positive developments, the Church has to

deplore and condemn all customs and practices still found in some African societies, which

deprive women of their rights and the respect due to them, while the Church seeks to

contribute to humanity’s conversion, leading it to acceptance of God’s salvific plan through her

witness to the Gospel, accompanied by charitable work on behalf of the poor and the neediest

[cf. n° 121, n° 139] and in Africae uus in 2011 that there are number of areas to be still

addressed with stronger and more coordinated efforts in the mission of the Church in Africa

and Madagascar such as the question of woman’s dignity and rights as well as her contribution

to the family and to the society, which remain far from being fully recognized, the situation of

fewer opportunities being offered to women and girls than to men and boys, and the existence

of harmful ancestral traditions and cultural practices debasing and degrading the dignity of

women and children as well as various forms of serious maltreatments being committed against

children [cf. n° 56; n° 67];

in Eccesia i Aerica in 1999 that the Church in America must incarnate in her pastoral

initiatives the solidarity of the universal Church towards the poor and the outcast of every kind;

that her attitude needs to be one of assistance, promotion, liberation and fraternal openness

and the goal of the Church is to ensure that no one is marginalized [cf. n° 58] and in Eccesia i

Asia of the same year, that the phenomenon of urbanization and the emergence of huge urban

conglomerations often become the fertile terrain for crimes, terrorism, prostitution, and

exploitation of the weaker sectors of society; and tourism, even though a legitimate industry

with its own cultural and educational values, has in some cases a devastating influence upon the

moral and physical landscape of many Asian countries, manifested in the degradation of young

women and even children through prostitution [cf. n° 7];

in Eccesia i ceaia in 2002 that the social apostolate is as an integral part of the

evangelizing mission of the Church to speak a word of hope to the world and to contribute to

human development, to promotion of human rights, defence of human life and dignity, social

justice and protection of the environment, determined to act against injustices, corruption,

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threats to life and new forms of poverty [cf. n° 26, n° 32] and in Eccesia i Eurpa in 2003

that the whole Church is being called to give new hope to the poor and that in the Church, to

welcome and serve the poor means to welcome and serve Christ (cf. Mt 25:40) and

that Preferential love for the poor is a necessary dimension of Christian existence and service to the

Gospel. Therefore, to love the poor, and to testify that they are especially loved by God, means

acknowledging that persons have value in themselves, apart from their economic, cultural, and

social status [cf. n° 86],

in Eccesia i edi riete in 2012 that the region, even though traversed by Patriarchs,

Prophets, Apostles, Saints, Fathers of the Church and being the crucible of the earliest

dogmatic formulations, rich in diversity, but is all too frequently restrictive and even violent,

thus affecting all the inhabitants of the region and every aspect of their lives, forcing them to

tragically experience human upheavals. This situation demands that the proclamation of the

Gospel must always be accompanied by works of charity, responding to the immediate needs

of all, regardless of their religion, factions or ideologies, for the sole purpose of making present

on earth God’s love for humanity, aiming at promoting values of human life, justice and peace

for the good of the people and the region [cf. n° 8, n° 89, n° 31].

AND IMMENSELY TOUCHED AND INSPIRED BY THE REINVIGORATED

PASTORAL VISION OF PPE FRACIS WHO TEACHES US THAT:

The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who

accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. The

option for the poor is primarily a theological category rather than a cultural, sociological,

political or philosophical one. It is essential, therefore, to draw near to new forms of poverty

and vulnerability such as the reality of women who particularly endure situations of exclusion,

mistreatment and violence because of their frequently less ability to defend their rights [cf.

Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 24th November 2013, n° 1, n° 198, n° 212 ].

The human trafficking has become today an open wound on the body of contemporary

society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity [cf. Address to the

participants of the International Conference on combatting human trafficking, 10th April 2014]. The physical,

economic, sexual and psychological exploitation of men and women, boys and girls, currently

holds tens of millions in inhumane and humiliating bondage. Every human being – man,

woman, boy and girl – is the image of God. Despite great efforts of many, this modern slavery

continues to be an atrocious scourge that is present throughout the world on a broad scale,

even as tourism. This crime of “lèse-humanity” masquerades behind seemingly acceptable

customs, but in reality claims its victims through prostitution, human trafficking, forced labour,

slave labour, mutilation, the sale of organs, the consumption of drugs and child labour. It hides

behind closed doors, in particular places, in the streets, automobiles, factories, the countryside,

in fishing boats and many other places [cf. Address on the occasion of the signing of the Faith leaders’

Declaration against slavery, 2 December 2014];

From the first moments of their lives, many children are rejected, abandoned, and

robbed of their childhood and future. Their hunger, their poverty, their vulnerability, their

abandonment, their ignorance or their helplessness, should these be the very reason for us to

love them all the more, with a big heart and greater generosity. Every child who is marginalized,

abandoned, who lives on the street begging with every kind of trick, without schooling, without

medical care, is a cry that rises up to God and denounces the system that we adults have set in

place. And unfortunately these children are prey to criminals who exploit them for shameful

trafficking or commerce, or train them for war and violence. [cf. General Audience, Wednesday, 8th

April 2015]. Even the deterioration of the environment and of society affects the most

vulnerable people on the planet. Today a true ecological approach always becomes a social

4

approach. It must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to

hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. Greater attention must be given to the needs of

the poor, the weak and the vulnerable, in debates often dominated by the powerful and by

more powerful interests [cf. Encyclical Letter Laudato Si, 24th May 2015, n° 48, n°49, n°52]

Hence the core of the vocation to service is to embrace with tender affection the whole

of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists

in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those

in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). [cf. Homily of the Inauguration of Petrine Ministry, 19th March 2013]. All are

encouraged, therefore, to work to help men and women, and children who are enslaved,

exploited, abused as instruments of work or pleasure, who are often tortured and sadly

mutilated. The governments and civil authorities are urged to work decisively to remove the

causes of this disgraceful scourge, unworthy of our society today [cf. Angelus, 8 February 2015].

The law enforcement authorities are primarily responsible for combating this tragic reality by a

vigorous application of the law. The humanitarian and social workers, on the other hand, are

called to work, in collaboration with law enforcement authorities, to provide victims with

welcome, human warmth and the possibility of building a new life. [cf. Address to the participants of

the International Conference on combatting human trafficking, 10th April 2014];

BEING ABLE TO WITNESS BY OUR OWN SELF IN CONCRETE SOCIAL

CONTEXTS OF THE MISSIONS WE ARE ENGAGED IN:

That poverty, uncontrolled urbanization and globalization, wars, social unrests and conflicts,

psychological, physical and sexual abuse in family and in society, domestic abuse and violence,

family breaks-down, competitive professional demands, lack of opportunities, human

trafficking which include trafficking of human organs and child soldiers, harmful cultural and

ethnic practices, male-domination, terrorism, psychological disturbances are seen as major

factors driving children and women to earn a living or to live on roads and streets;

ACTION

SINCE THE SITUATION IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY ALARMING AND IN

OBEDIENCE TO THE WORDS OF POPE FRANCIS, ADDRESSED TO US ON

THURSDAY, 17TH SEPTEMBER 2015:

that he has great admiration for our mission of protecting and promoting the dignity of these

children and women, and therefore, he encourages us to continue the same mission with faith

and apostolic zeal; that he asks us not to surrender in the face of difficulties and challenges

which question our conviction, nourished by faith in Christ who has demonstrated unto death

on the cross the preferential love of God the Father towards the weakest and the most

marginalized; that the CHURCH, THEREFORE, CANNOT REMAIN SILENT and the

ECCLESIAL INSTITUTIONS CANNOT CLOSE THEIR EYES in front of this sad phenomenon of

children and women earning a living or living on roads and streets; that it is important to

involve diverse expressions of the Christian community in various countries in order to remove

the causes which force a child or a woman to live on streets or to procure a living on roads;

that we can never avoid bringing the goodness and the tenderness of God the Merciful Father

to all, in particular, to the weakest and the most disadvantageous and the mercy is the supreme

act by which God comes to meet us, and it is the path which opens the heart towards the hope

of being always loved:

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WE UNANIMOUSLY AND CONVINCINGLY STATE AS OUR PROPOSED PLAN OF

ACTION, TO BE MADE KNOWN TO ALL EPISCOPAL CONFERENCES, BISHOPS,

RELIGIOUS CONFERENCES, MAJOR RELIGIOUS SUPERIORS, PARISH PRIESTS, SEMINARY

RECTORS AND RELIGIOUS FORMATORS, CATHOLIC SCHOOLS, ACADEMIES AND

UNIVERSITIES, CATHOLIC CHARITY AND DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS AS WELL

AS GOVERNMENTS AND INTERNATIONAL NON-GOVERNMENTAL

ORGANIZATIONS [NGOS] THAT:

WE FIRMLY URGE ALL :

1. To uphold the dignity and rights of every human person, regardless of one’s social,

cultural, religious, political, ethnic or professional background, created to the image and

likeness of God [cf. Genesis 1:26], as proclaimed in the Social Doctrine of the Catholic

Church [cf. Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Rerum novarum, 15th May 1891; Pontifical

Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, 2nd

April 2004] and the Catechism of the Catholic Church [cf. n° 1928-1933; n°2258;

n°2297 ].

WE MORALLY REJECT AND OPPOSE TO:

2. All forms of human trafficking and physical, psychological and sexual violence and

abuse, inflicted upon children and women, forcing them to lead a life not worthy of

human dignity, which generate devastating negative impact on the person concerned

and on the life of his/her family as well as on society at large,

3. All forms of laws and acts favouring prostitution which is a reality that dishonours and

degrades the dignity of the life of women and men, fearing that such legal recognition

may further encourage criminal activities enslaving innocent children, women and men

through sexual and labour exploitation [cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n° 2355].

WE RESOLUTELY CALL UPON THE STATES/GOVERNMENTS:

4. To protect with all legal measures children and women earning a living or living on

roads and streets, who are often victims of socio-economic inconsistencies and/or

human trafficking, ensuring all necessary sustenance to institutions and procedures of

their liberation, rehabilitation, reunification and re-integration into their natural families,

healthy family contexts, educational and formation institutions and fitting workforce;

5. To employ all resources, both material and institutional at disposal of States and

Governments, to remove all causes of such phenomenon of children and women

earning a living or living on roads and streets; and to enforce or to enact necessary legal

structures and laws in order to bring to justice all those who promote, facilitate, organize

or make use of all forms of sexual and labour exploitation of such children and women,

or maintain structures and institutions for the same purpose,

6. To guarantee to children, women and their families earning a living or living on roads

and streets the universal right to identity registration/identity cards and other legal

documentation common to all individuals and to ensure their inclusion as beneficiaries

of integral and inclusive programmes of development, education, health-care and

housing in international projects, in national/regional/city budgets as well as in

protection policies and services.

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WE STRONGLY URGE THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCES, BISHOPS AND MAJOR

RELIGIOUS SUPERIORS:

7. To write a special pastoral letter at National, Diocesan or Congregation level, in the context

of the forthcoming XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on

Family, proposing conferences, discussions, moments of prayers [Catholic,

Ecumenical/Inter-religious] on the life of the family of children and women earning a

living or living on roads and streets, reassuring to them the promotion of social justice

and considering them not as strangers or simply as beneficiaries of charity but as

ordinary parishioners and citizens with every right and dignity;

8. To guarantee the establishment of a special-task desk/force at national/local levels in

order to promote, coordinate and implement all that is necessary to reduce the risk and

incidences of abuse and exploitation of children and women, and to liberate and

reintegrate them, as well as to take every necessary step to collaborate with legal and civil

authorities to bring to justice all perpetrators and offenders implicated in all forms of

violence and exploitation against children and women;

9. To include compulsive study-material on the phenomenon of human trafficking in all its

forms, in particular sexual and labour exploitation, especially related to children and

women earning a living or living on roads and streets, in the curriculum of seminary and

religious formation, in the catechesis and in all Catholic education institutions such as

schools, colleges and universities, and in the formation of staff of charity and

development organizations.

10. To promote national and international advocacy and lobbying against all forms of sexual

and labour exploitation, violence against children and women, prostitution, and in

favour of human rights and social benefits of such victimized and marginalized, through

the participation of qualified laity and people of good will.

WE AS PARTICIPANTS UNDERSTAKE:

11. To promote our recommendations, numbering from 1-10, and to implement, in the

same spirit, in collaboration with national and diocesan organizations and other

institutions with the same mission towards children and women earning a living or living

on roads and streets, through organized events, research work, mass-media, networking,

the recommendations we ourselves have proposed during the previous 8

International and Continental Meetings on the Pastoral Care of Road, held since 2003;

12. To readily share our experience and knowledge on the concerned phenomenon, and

willingly extend our good practices of welcome, counselling, immediate support to all

children and women who earn a living or live on roads and streets, in order to liberate

themselves from all forms of exploitation or debasing means of living and to lead a life

worthy of human dignity, while strongly urging perpetrators, offenders, clients, to

abandon all forms of exploitation and violence and to enter into their own phase of

rehabilitation.

Vatican City, 1st October 2015

 

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