Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ministry of the Streets

Ever ancient, ever new, this ministry focus of the Church to the streets of the criminal city—the city founded by Cain—where the deeply urban pressure to survive and the often accompanying sensual overload of that success, calls out to those who know it best--who have transcended it themselves--to reach back to help rescue and transform those still lost on its glittering Broadways.

An article from the Vatican about the needed ministry reminds us that the ministry of our Lord was on the streets, and a first convert was the prostitute Mary Magdalene, also called the apostle to the apostles for her closeness to Jesus and for being the first to see him after his resurrection and taking that wonderful news back to the apostles.

An excerpt.

“VATICAN CITY, DEC. 1, 2008 ( Though the Church already has an active ministry for problems related to the streets -- homelessness, prostitution, etc. -- a continental congress on the theme concluded that an even greater presence is necessary.

“This was the primary conclusion of the first Latin American-Caribbean conference on ministry on the streets, which took place in Colombia in October. The Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers made public today the final document of the convention.

“This statement affirms that ministry to the homeless and exploited is one of the signs of the times, to which the Church is called to give an answer.

“The final document gives special emphasis to prostitutes and "street kids," and other groups who suffer exploitation.

"People trafficking, especially of women, minors and children, has turned into a powerful global industry, the world's third most lucrative criminal activity after arms trading and drug dealing," the statement noted. "It consists of powerful networks that operate in countries of origin, of transit and/or of destination.

"Prostitution is not a new phenomenon. However, what is new is that it has been turned into a complex worldwide business that takes advantage of the poverty and vulnerability of its victims, who have become the slaves of the 21st century. Deceived and thrown onto the streets, they are a living example of the unfair discrimination against them, imposed by a consumerist society."