MV Aquarius: A network of 6,000 volunteers available

Mgr. Arturo Ross - Auxiliary Bishop of Valencia

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

A traditionally open and supportive Catholic community, ready to give “unlimited” homing to the migrants in Valencia arrived on MV Aquarius.

At first, there had been talks of 200 people, but now the concept of putting no limits on homing is repeated many times by Mgr. Arturo Ros, auxiliary bishop and coordinator of the social and charitable service of the archdiocese of Valencia

Now, the migrants are in the Red Cross centres for medical exams and identification procedures. The government will give 45-day temporary permits on humanitarian grounds, but over one half of the people who have landed, French-speaking Africans, intend to go to France.

Since the beginning, the diocese has been taking part in the meetings of the joint homing committee. The diocese was overwhelmed with calls and people, groups, families and parishes all willing to help. An existing network of facilities and services, as well as about 6,000 volunteers, will be available. “Our job is to be ready to do anything for these people – Mgr. Ros states.

Last year, Caritas Valencia helped 25,000 migrants. And we have plenty of migrants in a social-inclusion programme. We help them fit in with our society through vocational training, language learning, education. Most of them are Africans coming through the Moroccan route”. “We are ready to let them into our homes, into our centres – the Bishop goes on -.

Accommodation for adults and children has already been found. We also have special child homing and support services. To use an informal term, people here say the table is set and ready. With no limits. We have spiritual homes that can accommodate plenty of people and that we can immediately provide. And translators, lecturers from the Catholic University, cultural mediators, psychologists, doctors, nurses, cooks. We can bring them here in a just a few hours”.

Last week, card. Antonio Cañizares, Archbishop of Valencia, was received by Pope Francis in the Vatican: “The Pope knows perfectly well what is going on over these days, and he knows how the diocese of Valencia has responded. He encourages and congratulates us”, points out mgr. Ros, who concludes: “Valencia is an open city, and so is our diocese”.