WASHINGTON (February 15, 2001) -- Bishops of Latin America, Canada and the United States meeting in Clearwater, Florida, called for increased cooperation on addressing the issue of migration in the Western Hemisphere.
The bishops made the call in a February 14 statement at the end of a February 12-14 meeting in which they noted that bishops from Latin America, Canada and the United States held their annual meeting to discuss matters of critical concern for the Church and society in the Western Hemisphere.
This meeting was the third since the publication of Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America, calling for the development of closer links among the people of this hemisphere in the new millennium.
Last year's meeting, whose principal theme was international debt, was held in Vancouver, Canada.
The group was pleased by the success of the Church's advocacy in reducing the international debt in the world's poorest countries. They noted the acknowledgment of this by Pope John Paul II in his most recent Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte, when he stated, "I am happy to note that recently the Parliaments of many creditor States have voted a substantial
remission of the bilateral debt of the poorest and most indebted countries ... The question of multilateral debt contracted by poorer countries with international financial organizations has shown itself to be a rather more problematic issue."
At this year's meeting, representative bishops from the Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano (CELAM, the Latin American Bishops Council), The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and the United States' National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) made reports on the issue of migration in the Western Hemisphere. The bishops gave particular attention to the causes, effects and pastoral responses to the phenomenon of migration on the continent.
The issues of economic globalization and the effect it has as a causative factor on migration were central to their discussions. They endorsed the "globalization of solidarity," a phrase often used by Pope John Paul II, and called for greater efforts to assure that human rights and responsibilities remain at the center of concerns for economic, political and social development.
The bishops pledged themselves to find new means of cooperation for the pastoral care of those who exercise the basic right to migrate. They also addressed the issues of undocumented migration and the drain of human resources from the countries of Latin America. At the same time, they called for greater cooperation to promote economic development in the South.
Acknowledging the recent meeting between Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and the newly-elected President George W. Bush of the United States, as well as the forthcoming encounter between Presidents Bush and Vicente Fox of Mexico, the bishops expressed the hope that these leaders include in their discussions on international cooperation the need to humanize economic globalization by taking more fully into account the challenges of migration.
Attendees at the meeting from CELAM included Bishop Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvahal of Zipaquirá, Colombia, President; Cardinal-designate Geraldo Majella Agnelo of São Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, Vice-president; Archbishop Roberto Octavio González Nieves of San Juan, Chairman, Economic Committee; Bishop Jacyr Francisco Braido of Santos, Brazil, Secretary for Migration; Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Texcoco, Mexico, General Secretary; Msgr. Ricardo Cuéllar Romo, Associate General Secretary; Father Carlos Quintana Puente, General Treasurer; Archbishop Adolfo Rodríquez Herrera of Camagüey, Cuba, President of the Episcopal Conference of Cuba; Archbishop José Mario Ruiz Navas of Portoviejo, Ecuador, President of the Episcopal Conference of Ecuador; and Archbishop Luis Morales Reyes of San Luis Potosí, president of the Episcopal Conference of Mexico.
Attendees from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops included Bishop Gerard Weisner, OMI, of Prince George, British Columbia, President; Bishop Jacques Berthelet of St. Jean-Longueuil, Quebec, Vice-president; Archbishop Brendan Michael O'Brien of St. Johns, Newfoundland, Co-treasurer; Bishop André Gaumond of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Co-treasurer; Msgr. Peter Schonenbach, General Secretary; and Joseph Gunn, Director of the Social Affairs Department.
Attendees form the National Conference of Catholic Bishops included Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston, Texas, President; Bishop Wilton Gregory of Belleville, Illinois, Vice-president; Bishop Henry Mansell of Buffalo, New York, Treasurer; Bishop William B. Friend of Shreveport, Louisiana, Secretary; Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' International Policy Committee; Bishop Nicolas DiMarzio of Camden, New Jersey, Chairman of the Bishops' Committee on Migration; Msgr. William P. Fay, General Secretary; Msgr. David J. Malloy, Associate General Secretary; and Mark Franken, Executive Director, USCC Department of Migration and Refugee Services.