On 1 June 2022, the Council of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) elected Ms. Christine Nathan as the Commission’s President for the coming four years. The Council also appointed a 14-member Governing Committee, and ratified its Secretary General, Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, for a second mandate. These elections took place on the last day of the Council’s Plenary Meeting.
ICMC’s 67 voting members, who represent national Episcopal Conferences in as many countries, elected Ms. Christine Nathan as the Commission’s new President.
About ICMC’s New President
Ms. Christine Nathan is a native of Mumbai, India. She has a long history of working in India and around the world to improve the rights and uphold the dignity of migrant workers. “I am inspired to by my faith, which urges all of us to mitigate the suffering of migrants and refugees,” she said in a video shared with the ICMC Council.
“Migrants and refugees have faith in the Church to assist and support them, and I believe ICMC has a wonderful opportunity to respond to this faith and take the lead in this area of work.” Ms. Nathan has been an active trade unionist for more than 40 years. Her early work focused on union organization in India’s construction and forestry sectors, and predominantly on the migrant and unskilled workers that make up the majority of the workforce in these sectors. From 2006 to 2014, she worked as a regional specialist for workers’ education at the International Labour Organization (ILO). During this time, she was responsible for directing ILO activities across 21 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and her work focused extensively on issues of international migration governance and cooperation.
“Migrant workers are amongst the most disadvantaged groups in our societies, and while COVID-19 highlighted these disadvantages, it also showed us yet again how important migrant workers are to our societies,” said Ms. Nathan in the video shared with ICMC’s Council. “I believe the Catholic Church via ICMC can be a catalyst for change at the international level, bringing together civil society and international agencies and organizations with ICMC members to enact positive, practical change.”
Ms. Nathan holds a Bachelor of Arts with a focus on sociology and psychology from Mumbai University and studied law at the Government Law College in Mumbai.
ICMC’s New Governing Committee
The ICMC Council also elected a Governing Committee for the upcoming four years. By region, the members of the newly-appointed Governing Committee are:
- H.E. Bishop Lucio Muandula (Mozambique)
- Rev. Fr. Paul Igweta (Kenya)
- Rev. Fr. Jaison Joseph Vadassery (India)
- Rev. Fr. Roger Manalo (Philippines)
- Rev. Fr. Agler Cherizier (Haiti)
- H.E. Archbishop Stefan Hesse (Germany)
- Ms. Marie-Christine Ries (Luxembourg)
- H.E. Bishop Misael Vacca Ramirez (Colombia)
- Msgr. J. Guadalupe Torres Campos (Mexico)
- Rev. Fr. Habib Kalakech (Lebanon)
- H.E. Bishop Giorgio Bertin (Somalia-Djibouti)
- H.E. Bishop Gerard Bergie (Canada)
- Mr. William Canny (USA)
- Mr. Jason Siwat (Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands)
The Council also ratified the ICMC Governing Committee’s May 2020 decision to appoint ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo for a second mandate (2020 – 2024). A national of the U.S., Msgr. Vitillo is a trained social worker with broad expertise in migration and refugee services, child protection, social services, human rights, HIV/AIDS, and global health. From 2005 to 2016, he served as Head of Delegation of Caritas Internationalis in Geneva and as Special Advisor on HIV and AIDS. He joined ICMC for his first mandate as Secretary General in 2016.
In addition, the Council adopted a new Strategic Workplan and Framework 2022 – 2026 that will orient ICMC’s service to migrants, refugees, displaced people, and survivors of human trafficking over the coming four years. The Framework is available in English, French, and Spanish. The Council also ratified updated organizational Statutes for ICMC’s governance.
Pope Francis to ICMC: “Give a Face to the Church’s Charitable Action”
On the occasion of the ICMC Plenary Council Meeting, Pope Francis sent a message to the organization in which he thanked it for its work over the past 70 years. “Many of [ICMC’s] activities have had a truly decisive impact. I thank you in particular for your committed efforts to help the Churches respond to the challenges associated with the vast displacement of persons caused by the conflict in Ukraine, which has seen the largest movement of refugees in Europe since the Second World War,” he said in his message sent on 30 May. “At the same time, we cannot forget the millions of asylum seekers, refugees and displaced persons in other parts of the world, who desperately need to be welcomed, protected and loved. As a Church, we wish to serve everyone and to work diligently to build a future of peace. You have the opportunity to give a face to the Church’s charitable activity on their behalf!”
The Council is ICMC’s highest governing body. It is composed of representatives of its national members, including national Catholic Bishops Conferences and Catholic-inspired institutions engaged in migration and refugee issues. It meets every four years. The Council’s 2022 meeting took place from 30 May to 1 June. Most of its members joined the meetings online, while a few met in person in Rome.
ICMC protects and serves uprooted people including refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced people, victims of human trafficking and migrants, regardless of faith, race, ethnicity or nationality. Founded in 1951, it has staff and programs in over 30 countries.
- Read the ICMC Strategic Workplan and Framework, available in English, French, and Spanish.
- Read Pope Francis’ message to ICMC’s Plenary Council, in Italian and English.