"Charity on the Border 2023" is the name of the second meeting of Bishops of border dioceses between Colombia and Venezuela held in the Colombian city of Cucuta from 18 to 20 September.
The meeting co-organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and the diocese gathered around 35 participants. Among them, the bishops of the dioceses located on the borders of both countries, those responsible for the national and regional Caritas, the Latin American and Caribbean Ecclesial Network for Migration, Displacement, Refuge and Human Trafficking (RED CLAMOR), and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC).
In January 2020 the diocese of Cucuta hosted a similar meeting with bishops of the borders between Colombia and Venezuela. The main objective of this second meeting was to develop a space for analysis and participation to coordinate transnational pastoral actions that respond to the challenges posed by migration in this border region.
The opening ceremony was addressed by the Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Msgr. Anthony Ekpo; the president of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia, Mgr. Luis José Rueda Aparicio; the president of the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela, Msgr. Jesús Gonzáles de Zarate and the bishop of Cucuta, Msgr. José Libardo Garcés.
During the meeting, the bishops briefly presented the overview of the pastoral care of migrants in their territory. On the first day, a fraternal dialogue took place through the sharing of experiences and the challenges posed by the enormous migratory flows between the two countries.
Furthermore, an exchange of charitable responses and pastoral actions that have been undertaken to accompany and serve migrants was done and several transnational and inter-diocesan initiatives and collaborations were identified that could contribute to achieving a more effective joint action to welcome, protect, promote and integrate people on the move.
The organizers indicated that the meeting concluded with the renewal of the commitment of all participants to help migrants, refugees and internally displaced people, spiritually and materially, and with the promise of continuing to collaborate in the commitment of forging and putting into practice an interdiocesan and transnational pastoral care of migrants.
World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2023
The theme of Pope Francis Message for the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) to be held on Sunday, September 24, 2023 with the theme: "Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay".
In his Message, Pope Francis recalls that "migrants flee because of poverty, fear or desperation" and points out that some of the most visible causes of migration are " Persecutions, wars, atmospheric phenomena and dire poverty ".
In this regard, the Holy Father indicates in the Message that "Joint efforts are needed by individual countries and the international community to ensure that all enjoy the right not to be forced to emigrate, in other words, the chance to live in peace and with dignity in one's own country."