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Cardinal proposes encyclical on migrants

Reflecting what he called the Catholic church's duty to defend the world's 175 million migrants and 40 million refugees, Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has called on Pope John Paul II to issue an encyclical letter on the subject.

McCarrick was speaking at last week's Rome conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees.

The proposal won support from participants at the conference, including the head of the migration committee for the German bishops and Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit, a member of the pontifical council. The Vatican official in charge of migrant and refugee issues also signaled cautious backing.

An encyclical letter is regarded as the most formal and highest-profile kind of papal teaching. To date, John Paul II has issued 14 encyclicals over his 25-year pontificate.

"We must never be accused of being silent when refugees seek a place of haven," McCarrick told the crowd of more than 300 people representing more than 100 nations gathered for six days at Rome's Augustinianum, just off St. Peter's Square.

McCarrick argued forcefully that migrants and refugees should be of special concern to the church.

"However they come, they come as our brothers and sisters in God's one human family," McCarrick said. "They come guided by the hands of God."

Cardinal proposes encyclical on migrants (National Catholic Reporter 28/11/03)

Vatican officials say migration brings opportunities for Catholics (21/11/03)
Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
Archdiocese of Washington | Theodore Cardinal McCarrick
Theodore Edgar Cardinal McCarrick (

28 Nov 2003