11-September-2012 -- Vatican Information Service |

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Women And Children, Beneficiaries Of The Pastoral Care Of The Road

Vatican City, 11 September 2012 (VIS) - Under the theme of "Jesus himself came up and walked by their side", the first Integrated Meeting for the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street for the Continent of Africa and Madagascar is opening today in the Tanzanian capital of Dar-Es-Salaam.

The initiative, which has been promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples in collaboration with Tanzania's Episcopal Commission for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, will examine certain crucial issues such as the position of women and girls who, engaged in voluntary and forced prostitution in Africa and Madagascar, become victims of new forms of slavery. "Unfortunately", reads a communique released by the pontifical council, "insufficient recognition of the dignity and rights of women means they have fewer opportunities for formation, work and respect".

The meeting will also examine the situation of street children and adolescents, a problem which arises from family, social and cultural contrasts on the continent. The causes which force women and children to live on the street include poverty, family violence, tribal and civil conflicts, superstition, organised criminality and exploitation.

Attention will also be given to the problems and requirements of transport workers who, on long journeys with low pay and no work or health insurance, have to face multiple difficulties, such as separation from their families, long waits at frontiers and fatigue.

All these issues will be examined in the light of the "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road" published by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples in 2007, as well as that of two documents of Church Magisterium concerning the African continent and the mission of the Church there: the Apostolic Exhortations "Ecclesia in Africa" (1995) and "Africae Munus" (2011).

The meeting is being attended by more than eighty-five people from thirty-one African nations. They include bishops, priests, religious and lay people, delegates of various episcopal commissions for migrants and itinerant peoples, of Caritas internationalis and of religious institutes which dedicate their efforts to the pastoral care of people who live on or from the road.

During this afternoon's inaugural session a message will be read out, sent to the meeting in the Holy Father's name by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. The first lecture will be given tomorrow by Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, who will present his dicastery's core document "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road", which includes the point of view not only of the "users" of the road, but also of the people who are obliged to live there. Bishop Kalathiparambil will emphasise the Church's pastoral responsibility to denounce all forms of injustice, to defend the dignity of those exploited or mistreated by family or social situations, and to commit herself to helping them.



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