Vatican City, 12 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received the participants of the International Seminar of Catholic Civil Aviation Chaplains and Chaplaincy organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples on the theme “Evangelii gaudium: What Support for the Pastoral Care of Airport Chaplaincy?”
Airports, Pope Francis recalled are meeting places for many people who are travelling for many reasons. They are also points of transit for migrants and refugees, children and the elderly, who need special care and attention, as well as those who work there every day. “We also have to note,” the pontiff emphasized, “the troubling number of passengers without documents – often refugees and asylum seekers – who are detained in airport premises for long or short periods, sometimes without adequate spiritual and human assistance. Sometimes tragic situations occur due to, for example, accidents or hijacking, with serious consequences for the safety and the psychological status of persons. In these circumstances too, Chaplains are called upon and sought after by those who need comfort and encouragement.
Given its characteristics, airport chaplaincy is called to be “a place of unity in diversity for all categories of persons. Airports seem cities within cities, where multiple realities intertwine and overlap. As a big city, the airport is a cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious environment and you, chaplains and members of the chaplaincy, you are immersed in the life of this unique community. Therefore, it is important to work meekly and to be more attuned to the Holy Spirit who creates unity in diversity.”
The Holy Father concluded his brief speech inviting the chaplains to work to ensure that those special “border” positions that airports constitute have “space for finding and practicing love and dialogue, which nourishes fraternity between persons and preserves a peaceful social climate. I pray together with you that the Lord make your apostolate, which participates in the Church's universal mission, an effective proclamation of the Good News.