Geneva, 6 October 2023
Dear sisters and brothers at CAREF,
It is with great joy that I share with you compliments on behalf of the fellowship of the World Council of Churches on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Argentine Commission for Refugees and Migrants – CAREF.
Throughout your history of service, you have carried out a committed work in favor of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. Therefore, it is a reason of great honor to us in the WCC to have been part of the creation of CAREF in 1973, with the goal of caring for Chilean exiles persecuted by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
Sadly, soon Argentina itself and several Latin American countries fell under the same yoke and your ministry proved to be timely in the Latin American context. With the dictatorships in the region persecuting, torturing, and massacring, hundreds of people found refuge and had their lives saved thanks to your testimony and assistance.
In the same way, today there are many who receive guidance every month to walk and improve their conditions as migrants.
From the very beginning, service to refugees has been an important part of the diaconal ministry of the WCC.
“We are a church of the stranger – the church of Jesus Christ the stranger.”
This formulation comes from a major policy statement approved by the WCC central committee in 1995. The document called upon churches “to re-discover their identity, their integrity and their vocation as the church of the stranger. Service to uprooted people has always been recognized as diakonia – although it has been peripheral to the life of many churches”.
In other words, what has been stated in 1995, and what we continue to affirm today is that the care for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers is also an ecclesial matter.
For many churches within the ecumenical fellowship today, the search for unity in the church and the world means struggling for truth and justice in the places where they live, engaging in practical acts of solidarity where human dignity and community are at stake, empowering individuals and communities to confront the forces of fragmentation and marginalization.
Refugees fleeing their home country are in need of protection and assistance in all parts of the world today. Lack of legal protection is a basic problem facing refugees who have fled their countries and can no longer count on their own governments to protect them.
The work of advice and support carried out by CAREF’s large interdisciplinary team of social workers, psychologists, lawyers, administrators, and communicators makes a difference in the world.
By greeting you, I also greet the churches behind CAREF’s work, many of them members of the WCC.
May God bless CAREF, may God bless the churches commitment to this cause, and may you all be blessed in your continued ministry and leadership.
Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay
World Council of Churches