Speaking to the General Synod of Bishops in Rome, who reached the midpoint of their meetings yesterday, Archbishop Felix Alaba Adeosin Job of Ibadan, Nigeria addressed the assembly on the topic of immigrants--particularly religious and priests, who, he said, must be offered respect if they are to celebrate the Eucharist with dignity.
The 'Instrumentum laboris', which is the working document prepared before the Synod, "reminds us", the archbishop said, "that the Eucharist brings the faithful together and makes them a community, despite differences in race, language, nation and culture."
But, "migration", he added, "is not limited to lay faithful alone."
Noting the many priests and religious, particularly from his own region, who are sent "to study abroad for their home congregations or dioceses, he noted that "if the immigrant priest is to celebrate the sacred sacrifice with dignity, devotion and reverence he must be recognized, be granted a decent means of livelihood and be assured of belonging."
Turning to pastoral care for female religious immigrants, the archbishop said, this situation "is more complex, and deserves greater care."
In his own experience as a bishop, he recalled that, "These young ladies are [often] uprooted from their culture and tradition and planted in Europe and America where the climate, culture and customs often overwhelm them and often they are thrown out of these institutions."
"Inevitably", he said, "many of them fall prey to people and situations. Their plight, as the broken body of Christ, should be looked into with compassion and love. They are part of the body of Christ, the Church."
He stressed that "Consecrated life is a witness to Christ in the Church and their presence is a blessing to the local Church."