Between the 24th and 25th of May 2023, Bishops of border dioceses from Colombia and Ecuador gathered in the city of Pasto, Colombia for a meeting hosted by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, in collaboration with the Diocese of Pasto. The event aimed to deepen the understanding of the migration phenomenon in the region and to elaborate proposals for inter-diocesan initiatives for the service and accompaniment of migrants. Over the course of two days, opportunities for dialogue were generated to share pastoral experiences, facilitate a common discernment, and exchange proposals for joint action to welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants, refugees and displaced persons.
Present at the meeting were the Colombian dioceses and archdioceses of Pasto (host), Ipiales, Tumaco, Popayán and Cali. From Ecuador, the Apostolic Vicariates of Esmeraldas and San Miguel de Sucumbíos, and the Diocese of Tulcán were in attendance. Each jurisdiction was represented by its Bishop or Apostolic Vicar, along with the directors of their social pastoral work. Representatives of the apostolic nunciatures in Colombia and Ecuador, the presidencies of the Episcopal Conferences of each country, Caritas Colombia, Red CLAMOR and the International Catholic Migration Commission also attended the meeting.
On this occasion, Bishops outlined the characteristics of the migration phenomenon in their jurisdictions, highlighting the pastoral challenges that emerge from these contexts and the pastoral actions that have been enacted to serve and accompany people in transit. Afterwards, they exchanged proposals for future inter-diocesan and transnational initiatives to coordinate and strengthen their service. The churches present at the meeting renewed their commitment to our migrant, refugee and internally displaced brothers and sisters, pledging to continue collaborating towards the design and implementation of an inter-diocesan and transnational migration ministry.
Participants thereafter visited the Puente Internacional Rumichaca, an important border crossing between Colombia and Ecuador in the neighbouring diocese of Ipiales. They met with migrants and displaced persons, in an act symbolic of the closeness and commitment of the Church. Finally, a Eucharistic celebration was held in the Basilica of Santa María de las Lajas, where the participants entrusted the results of the meeting to the intercession of the Virgin Mary.