|Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò; President Of Pontifical Council For Migrants And Travelers|
Your Eminence Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam
Your Excellency the Most Reverend Francisco Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio inTanzania
Your Excellencies: Archbishops, Bishops
Reverend Fathers, Reverend Sisters,Reverend Brothers
Esteemed lay pastoral agents and collaborators,
I am happy to send my prayerful greetings to each and every one of you, present here in this Kurasini Conference and Training Centre of Tanzania Episcopal Conference, on this opening day of the First Integrated Meeting on the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street, for the Continent of Africa andMadagascar. I sincerely regret for not being able to personally take part in this Meeting due to unforeseen commitments obliging my presence in Rome. However, I would like to assure you that I am spiritually united with you through the delegation of our Pontifical Council, headed by the Secretary His Excellency the Most Reverend Joseph Kalathiparambil and other Officials.
First and foremost, I thank the Good Lord for guiding us during the preparatory activities leading up to this day. I pray to the Holy Spirit to inspire and sustain you during this Meeting in your interventions, reflections, considerations and deliberations for the good of the persons whose life, either due to socio-political, human or natural factors, is made to depend on roads and streets.
In accordance with the ‘Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street’ (GPCR/S), issued by our Pontifical Council in 2007 , a series of continental meetings have been organized to consider the response of the Church to the needs of those who live in and on roads and streets in each Continent, namely street children/youngsters, street women/young girls, homeless, transporters and road security. The event that begins today is the last of this series of continental meetings that our Pontifical Council promoted and organized since 2008: for Latin America and the Caribbean in 2008, for Europe in 2009 and for Asia andOceania in 2010.
Today, I am indeed thankful to His Eminence Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, for warmly welcoming this initiative and directing us to organize this event in collaboration with the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People of Tanzania. A very special note of gratitude to His Lordship Bishop Isaac Amani, Chairperson of the Episcopal Commission and its capable Executive Secretary, Rev. Fr. Gallus Marandu, for their dedicated and competent collaboration. Without their coordinated efforts, the organization of this Meeting would not have been possible.
I am likewise grateful to His Excellency the Most Reverend Francisco Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio in Tanzania, for his kind collaboration in facilitating the preparatory work.
I also would like to remember with sincere gratitude the speakers, who are sons and daughters of the soil of this continent, who, I am sure, will help you to better understand the reality of those categories of persons who either live in or make a living on African roads and streets.
Africais not a land unfamiliar to me. I have had the satisfaction of serving this Continent from 1975 to 1980 as the Counsellor of the Apostolic Nunciature inSenegaland then as Apostolic Nuncio from 1989 to1997 inSenegal,Mali, Capo Verde,Guinea-Bissauand Apostolic Delegate inMauritania. This wonderful land, with diversity of cultural and spiritual heritage continues to remain so dear to my heart and today to my mission as the President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.
Your Eminence, Your Excellencies, dear Reverend Fathers, Brothers, Sisters and esteemed Socio-pastoral Agents and Collaborators, the theme of this series of Integrated Continental Meetings has been fittingly chosen, based on the well known Biblical passage of the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus: "Jesus came up and walked by their side (Luke 24:15)”. In fact the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI says “On our own journeys, the risen Jesus is a travelling companion who "rekindles in our hearts the warmth of faith and hope and the breaking of the bread of eternal life".
The Pastoral Care of the Road/Street is indeed “a walk together”. It embraces a wide spectrum of those whose lives are forced in one way or other out of the borders of a normal home life and ordinary parochial care. Their particular situations thus demand certain specific approaches and also vast pastoral flexibility. Over three days of work, you will touch on these important issues of human reality and areas of Church’s mission: such as the pastoral care of road and rail-users, promotion of worthy and Christian ‘road ethics’, assistance to long-distant truck-drivers, liberation of women and girls, engaged in voluntary or forced prostitution or victims of sexual exploitation, and liberation of street children.
The recent Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae munus eloquently underscores that no society can do without fraternal service inspired by love. It is love which soothes hearts that are hurt, desperate or abandoned . It is that love, as the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI himself articulated, which demands respect for truth and justice, to which Jesus Christ himself bore witness by his death and resurrection and which has thus indispensably become the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity . Promotion of initiatives which contribute to the development and ennoblement of individuals, both men and women with equal dignity, respect and opportunities, in their spiritual and material existence constitutes a vital role in evangelization. The Synod Fathers in 1994 avowed their commitment to accept the challenge of being instruments of salvation in every area of the peoples of Africa andMadagascar .
The programme of the Meeting renders explicit some of the crucial socio-political and human issues which the Church in Africa and Madagascar has to respond to, with humility, patience, understanding and resolution . I hope that you will not fail to profit by this Meeting, sharing your experiences and methodologies of approach to the reality of the people of and on the road/streets in Africa andMadagascar; to explore new possibilities of exercising and expanding your ministry. This Encounter will also offer you the opportunity to discover new strategies for collaboration with governmental and non-governmental bodies, groups, organizations: to work jointly to safeguard the dignity of the human person, who lives on roads/in the streets and to ensure their well-being; and to promote understanding and education amongst all motorists of road ethics and safe driving; and to encourage pastoral care required by truck/lorry drivers (long-hour drivers).
Ours is a mission to evangelize, a mission to educate, a mission to liberate. It’s a mission of evangelization and human promotion in the spirit of the Gospel values, knowing that “whatever is done to the least of these brothers and sisters is done unto Him” who was born in poverty, simplicity and humility in a crib and who died in poverty, simplicity and humility on the cross to bring salvation and liberation to every human person.
Finally, let me commend you for the vital role that each and every one of you play in the Church for the proclamation of the Kingdom. I thank you once again for your participation and assure you of my prayers at the Tomb of Saint Peter for a fruitful encounter and continued ministry back in your homelands.
Entrusting you to the maternal intercession ofMary, Our Lady of the Way, I send you all, present here, the Apostolic Blessing of theHoly Father PopeBenedictXVI.
Thank you. God bless you all!