Filipino, Indian to sit on global Catholic migration body

Bishop Santos of Balanga and Father Jaison Vadassery Joseph to represent Asia on International Catholic Migration Commission
Filipino, Indian to sit on global Catholic migration body

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga has been named Asia's representative to the International Catholic Migration Commission. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

Bishop Ruperto Santos of the Philippines was named one of Asia's representative to the International Catholic Migration Commission during its meeting in Rome last week.

The commission was established in 1951 in the wake of the massive displacement of people caused by the Second World War.

Initiated by Pope Pius XII and American layman James Norris, the body coordinates the work of Catholic groups that are working with migrant and displaced people.

The Filipino prelate was elected to represent the region along with Father Jaison Vadassery Joseph of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India.

Bishop Santos of Balanga said his election was recognition of what the Catholic Church in the Philippines has been doing and what it can still do for migrants.

The prelate is currently head of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Philippine bishops' conference.

"They acknowledge the contributions of our migrants and our chaplains to the universal church and to the world," said Bishop Santos.

He said Filipino migrant workers have "enriched the world spiritually with faith witnessing," adding that Filipinos "truly work with honesty to make everything and everyone better."

Bishop Santos said his election is a sign that "something more can be done for overseas Filipino workers."

Meanwhile, Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India called Father Vadassery's election, "a great recognition for the church in India and of the work the church does for the migrants in India."

Father Vadasserry, 48, is the secretary of the Labor Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India.

Bishop Mascarenhas said the appointment of Father Vadassery will help the Indian Church focus more on the migration issues within India, which is a "serious issue for the church and the nation."

Thousands of indigenous people and socially poor Dalit people each year migrate to Indian cities and towns in search of jobs and a better life, but most often they end up in slums and lead a miserable existence, the bishop said.

The church looks forward to creating a comprehensive policy for the ministry of migrants in India beyond the narrow confines of religion and regions.

"We need a policy that will see the church working with the migrants," he said.

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Bishop Mascarenhas said Father Vadassery's international assignment will help the church accelerate its work for migrants.

Also elected during the meeting, which was attended by more than 100 delegates from 58 countries in Rome, was Dr. Anne Therese Gallagher, as the new president of the global organization. 

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