Geneva - Recently elected to the Governing Committee of the ICMC, His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III was keen to attend its meeting in Geneva on 13 July.
Identity and work of ICMC
Responding to the needs of people on the move since its establishment by the Holy See in 1951, ICMC serves and protects uprooted people: refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants, regardless of faith, race, ethnicity or nationality.
Working directly with migrants and refugees in more than forty countries, and in co-operation with governments and non-governmental organisations, ICMC is an international commission of Catholic Bishops' Conferences and Episcopal Assemblies, advocating and implementing at national and regional levels rights-based policies and lasting solutions for vulnerable people.
The ICMC Secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland, with liaison offices in Belgium and the USA. Among the ICMC's field offices worldwide there is one in Jordan and certain of its one hundred and more expert resettlement personnel support UNHCR field offices in the Middle East through the ICMC-UNHCR Deployment Resettlement Scheme.
The direct experience of ICMC Members underpins the ICMC's presentation in international and regional policy-making debates of their concerns for human dignity. This ensures that the Church's voice can be more widely heard.
The Governing Committee Meeting
The Governing Committee of the ICMC, with its President, John Michael Klink, met for an intensive working day on 14 July, between the hours of 9a.m. and 6p.m. Present were the eleven elected members, including Cardinals John Njue (Kenya), George Pell (Australia), Christoph von Schönborn (Austria) and Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga (Honduras), with Patriarch Gregorios III (Syria) and other distinguished representatives of Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, Uganda and the USA. Among the observers were the Papal Nuncio to Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi and Msgr. Novatus Rugambwa, Under-Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants (Rome) and the President of ICMC Europe, Mr. Bernard Ryelandt. The three counsellors present were Archbishop François Gayot (Haiti) and two Sisters, from Ecuador and Australia.
Among the topics discussed that day were services and resettlement for Iraqi refugees and the Middle East's regional issues, which the ICMC would be requested to pursue.
There followed Holy Mass in a nearby church, with a memorable sermon by Cardinal von Schönborn on the reading for the day, from the Book of Exodus, about the five women figuring in the story of Moses' infancy and the ways in which they acted to preserve and sustain the child's life and overcome enmity, injustice and persecution. Patriarch Gregorios from the altar sang in Arabic, while his concelebrants and staff of the ICMC received communion. Later there was an evening reception and dinner for staff and a few guests.
The morning of 15 July was devoted to discussion of the ICMC's financial situation, to hearing the presentations from the auditors and discussing future fund-raising for the welfare of migrants.
Holy Mass in the nearby Papal Chapel was followed by a simple meal at a local restaurant, with the afternoon's work following within the hour.
ICMC Lebanon and Caritas Syria
Patriarch Gregorios was concerned to contribute to the afternoon's topics, which included the situation of partnership with Caritas, Syria. Also on the agenda was the topic of a Board to be registered ICMC in Lebanon.
The concluding discussion and review of decisions was far-ranging and the meeting ended rather later than planned. The Governing Committee resolved to continue to liaise closely with the Episcopal Conferences and to continue to maintain close links with the Vatican in order to further their care for migrants during the current global crisis.
The provisional date of the next committee meeting was fixed for January 21-23, 2010 in Vienna.
After the close of the meeting, His Beatitude went on to fulfil a pastoral engagement in Geneva.