The topic of refugees and our relation to them is becoming more and more relevant, most especially for the Church, which, according to the words of Pope Benedict himself in his latest encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate, para 15, states that one should always bear in mind the holistic development of the person.  In the same encyclical, para 62-05, the Pope also makes reference to the subject of refugees.

Lately, a seminar regarding this topic was organized by Caritas Italia in Trapani, Sicily.  Fr  Alfred Vella, who is the Director of the Emigrants Commission in Malta, participated in the seminar, on behalf of the Emigrants Commission and Caritas Malta.  There are many factors in common between Malta and Italy when it comes to the question of refugees.  The difference lies in that although Malta is a smaller country, in proportion with other European countries, it recieves many more refugees. Nonetheless, Malta does not ever declare that it is not interested in the welfare of these people and we remain obliged to assist them during the time they reside among us.  We try to ensure that they find a safe harbour which offers better prospects for them and their families.

The Emigrants Commission has always made it very clear that it is not possible for all of these people to remain in our country, for obvious reasons, among which is the one mentioned above; yet one cannot deny that they require help in order to build a better future for themselves.  These are some of the points which arose during this short seminar, in which there were also participants from Caritas Italy and Caritas Europa.  It is hoped that this trend of thought becomes widespread within international circles. It is important that the Church in Malta, through its agencies, spreads this message, as well as its preoccupations regarding this topic.

Fr Alfred Vella

Emigrants Commission Director