IN a new Apostolic Constitution for the benefit of emigrants, the Holy Father has laid down a detailed plan of action for the spiritual care of millions of uprooted refugees and millions of would-be emigrants in over-populated lands.
The 3,000-word document provides that all existing Catholic bodies concerned with the problem shall be grouped together in a central Council of Emigration under the authority of the Sacred Consistorial Congregation.
This Congregation, which has long had jurisdiction in emigration affairs, is also responsible under the Pope for the appointment of Bishops and the establishment of dioceses.
The extent of the problem facing the new council can be realised when it is remembered that in West Germany alone 9.000,000 refugees are housed in camps, and their numbers arc growing every day as more Germans filter through the Soviet Zone.
In Italy the main difficulty is that of over-population. Deprived of her former colonies, restricted by the U.S. immigration quota, and hampered by serious post-war economic troubles, Italy has more than 3,000,000 unemployed — potential emigrants—on her hands.
First head of the Council of Emigration is Mgr. Emilio Rossi, a prelate official of the Consistorial Congregation, who was appointed Papal Delegate for Emigration before last year's international conference on population problems in Naples.
The task of Mgr. Rossi and his collaborators will be "to promote pastoral activity on behalf of emigrants of all nations and kinds." This includes political refugees and displaced persons as well as ordinary emigrants.
His chief duties will be to maintain contact with established organisations, to recruit missionary priests for emigrants, to handle publicity, and to supervise and promote all work connected with emigrants' spiritual and material care.
Mgr. Rossi will thus be working in close association with the International Migration Commission, created late last year, which has its permanent headquarters in Geneva.
Six detailed instructions are given in the Apostolic Constitution for the guidance of Bishops throughout the world, one of the most notable being that which specifies the faculties of priests aboard emigrant ships.
These "emigrant chaplains" will
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