From February 19 to 23, 2020, a meeting of reflection and spirituality will take place in Bari: “Mediterranean, frontier of peace”, sponsored by the Italian Episcopal Conference.
More than fifty bishops will participate on behalf of the Episcopal Conferences of the 19 coastal countries of the Mediterranean; among them, Cardinal Cristóbal López Romero, a 67-year-old Salesian and Archbishop of Rabat, the capital of Morocco.
In the invitation to the meeting, the bishops were asked to indicate the problems they consider most important and urgent. What did you say?
In my opinion, the most important extra-ecclesial issue on which we must work together is the phenomenon of migration. Some time ago I thought about organising a meeting between the bishops of the African countries where migrants leave and the bishops of the European countries to which migrants arrive. The meeting was held a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, only one European bishop from Spain participated.
The Mediterranean cannot continue to be a frontier of hunger, suffering, inequality, anguish, death.
But I define migration as a “phenomenon”, not as a “problem”.
Migrations are not a problem but the consequence of many problems.
Poverty, wars, hunger and climate change, an economic system that, as Pope Francis says, crushes entire peoples. These are the problems that give rise to the phenomenon of migration.
Therefore, I think that, in Bari, when we look at it, we will necessarily have to face the causes, think about them together and look for solutions.
Do you have any proposals that you would like to present to your fellow bishops?
I have a rather particular proposal. In my opinion, it is time to dedicate a Synod to migration, which is a worldwide phenomenon.
In fact, there are not only thousands of migrants arriving in Europe; in Africa there are millions that move from one country to another all over the continent; in the Middle East, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey welcome millions of refugees, and in South America the number of migrants is tremendous.
The entire Catholic Church should, in my opinion, reflect on this issue and do it cum Petro and sub Petro.
What do you think is the most relevant and urgent intra-ecclesial issue that will be addressed at the Bari meeting?
I believe that it is the lack of compassion that many Christians show towards their most fragile and vulnerable brothers and sisters, including migrants.
I suffer a lot when, in Spain, some people, after having participated in the Eucharistic celebration, ask me, in an ironic tone, not to send more migrants from Morocco.
I answer explaining that people should be able to move, they have the right to do so and it is not I who sends them.
And then I wonder: how is it possible to go to Mass and feel almost no compassion for the men, women and children who are suffering?
(Source: Spanish Salesians; Novena translation)