After a well-deserved lunch break, we resumed the workshops with the missionary witness of the Portuguese community of Fetais. The Portuguese CLM decided last year to open a community presence in the outskirts of Lisbon. In a neighborhood with a great diversity of nationalities, where migrants from former Portuguese colonies in Africa stand out, but where there is also the presence of Latin Americans and people of Asian origin. All this with Portuguese, many of them of gypsy ethnicity.
All this great diversity makes living there a very different experience from what is usual in the rest of the country. Undoubtedly a melting pot of cultures that brings a lot of richness, but sometimes with many difficulties linked to their condition of exclusion.
This experience also gave rise to a debate on the rights of migrants in the European Union, the common policy that does not facilitate immigration and how the unequal demands of one country or another can also cause people to be more disadvantaged depending on local legislation.
Then the CLM from Spain helped us to deepen into a very elaborate presentation of the importance of political advocacy in our missionary action in Europe. To become aware of how Pope Francis encourages us to a positioning and an ever greater political responsibility as lay people because politics, as a service to the common good, definitely marks the lives of the people. How important is the influence on the change of legislations, the sensitization of the people for the different issues that affect so much as the care of the planet, migrations, etc.
The presentation was accompanied by the external intervention of Sister Benjamine who spoke to us about the work done by Talita Kum against human trafficking at the international level. Brother Simone spoke about the work of VIVAT International and the pressure they are trying to put on the UN and Geneva to change global policies, and Father Lorenzo shared with us the struggle of the Church and Mining network against abusive mining activities in Latin America. All of them reinforced the responsibility and the need for work in this sector that we have from Europe.
The last session of the day was in charge of the CLM from Italy, who presented several of the projects they are developing in different parts of the country. From the reception of migrants in the community La Zattera in Palermo. A place to organize their lives, to rest and to integrate into the new society.
In this line, Venegono explained to us the projects that they develop from Combinazione, such as the various shelters for refugees that they run, where they act from the first reception to a last resort on the way to an independent life where they facilitate the exit from the previous resources.
They also explained the work of awareness raising in schools. Bringing the realities of the world to children and young people, with awareness-raising projects adapted to different age groups, sometimes with the testimony of African migrants. Or even with the edition of a book that helps to enter and embrace more the reality of a changing society and the protagonism of everyone in this society, especially the youngest.
Finally, Simone shared with us the experience of life as CLM in the Comboni religious community of Castel Voturno and especially his work in the Black and White association that seeks to offer educational and leisure alternatives to the children of migrants who arrived in Italy and who even being born in Italy do not have the right to Italian citizenship. Also how this resource becomes the only place of leisure or study possibilities for these boys and girls due to the poor conditions of the neighborhood where they live.
To end this intense day we were able to have a time of quiet and prayer together organized from Spain. A simple prayer in different languages, where we could place at the Lord’s feet all that we have shared, the needs of all those we serve and our willingness to continue on the path wherever He calls us.
With the Our Father in each of our languages we closed this beautiful day of sharing and dreaming together from the gifts and services that each one of us develop. Surely it will have enlightened many for new initiatives and encouraged everyone knowing that we are together in this common cause which is the Kingdom of God.
A hug to all of you and thanks to those who participated because with your contributions you made us grow.
Alberto de la Portilla. CLM Central Committee