European Catholic Bishops Meet to Plan Pro-Immigration Media Offensive


European Catholic Bishops and delegates responsible for the Pastoral Care of Migrants arrived in Stockholm on Friday to discuss how best to combat negative media on mass immigration.

The title of the three-day summit, “A movement of humanity: the flow of migrants and news. Dialogue and communication for a culture of encounter,” highlights the media-based tone of the encounter, which seeks to implement Pope Francis’s call for a “change in mindset” regarding immigration.

According to event organizers, delegates to the closed-door meeting intend to improve the relationship between migratory flow and public perception, which they suggest is distorted by media that do not always “promote dialogue and the culture of the encounter.”

The bishop of the host city of Stockholm, Cardinal Anders Arborelius, who heads the “migration” section of the European Bishops (CCEE) Commission on Pastoral Care of Social Issues, said Thursday that Pope Francis has a “prophetic voice” regarding immigration and that many people are influenced by him.

Speaking with Crux, a U.S.-based online Catholic website, the bishop of Stockholm said that “not many political partners” follow Francis totally, but “people of all creeds and opinions are listening to him, so there is always a possibility for him to help people open up for a more positive outlook on migration.”

In a statement in preparation for this weekend’s summit, the cardinal insisted on the importance of immigration for the Church.

“The Catholic Church in Sweden is a Church of Migrants,” Arborelius said. “Most of us have come from other countries, and some of us from other denominations. As Christians, we are all pilgrims on the way to God’s heavenly kingdom.”

These reflections on our own status as immigrants, he continued, make us more open to receiving others.

“If we are really aware of this grace, we will also be able to be more open and welcoming to all those migrants that God has sent to us,” he said. “We have our real homeland above. God’s kingdom is our real home. Here below, we are all guests, pilgrims, migrants. We belong together. We have the same vocation: to be the witnesses of Jesus here and now.”

Among the topics on to be addressed in the meeting will be an analysis of how the Church uses the media to talk about immigration, which will include the testimony of various international ecclesial bodies who work in the field of pastoral care for migrants.

Other themes to be dealt with are how the Church “forms and informs its faithful about the phenomenon of migration,” and how the Church uses the media “to witness to the world what it does and thinks about migration.”

The summit will close Sunday morning with the celebration of a migrant Mass with the presence of migrant communities in the Church of Santa Eugenia in Stockholm and a visit to the Abbey of Santa Brigida in Vadstena.

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