The Catholic Response to Unaccompanied and Separated Children in the Context of Migration
January 24, 2024 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm Timezone: America/New_York



The Christian faith began with a vulnerable child born to a displaced mother facing a range of threats. Since then, Christian communities have interacted with children and families in precarious situations. Catholic organizations have often been on the front lines offering assistance to migrants and refugees all over the world.There are now more children on the move than ever before–fleeing violence, climate disasters, and poverty–and seeking safety and protection within and across borders. Currently, nearly 40% of the 110 million displaced persons worldwide are under the age of 18. Alarming numbers of children are moving alone.

During this webinar, participants will explore the role of the Catholic Church in responding to children who are migrating alone or who are at risk of or have been separated from their families in the context of migration. How does Catholic social teaching inform faith communities’ responses to unaccompanied and separated children in the context of migration? How do Catholic principles and practices interact with government policies and public perceptions related to immigration?

The forum on Faith and the Family: Propagating and Preventing Child-Family Separation across Time and Context is convened by Catholic Relief Services and Georgetown University’s Collaborative on Global Children’s Issues, in coordination with the Changing the Way We Care initiative and strategic partners. English, French, and Spanish interpretation are available.

Additional info


Hille Haker

Hille Haker holds the Richard McCormick S.J. Endowed Chair in Catholic Ethics at Loyola University Chicago. She is the editor of Unaccompanied Migrant Children: Social, Legal, and Ethical Perspectives(2018). She served on several bioethics committees, including the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies to the European Commission. From 2015 to 2018, she was the president of Societas Ethica, European Society for Research in Ethics. She is currently working on a book on the foundations of ethics and responsibility and chairs a project on sexual and spiritual violence.

Ian Manzi

Ian Manzi (moderator) is the program assistant with the Collaborative on Global Children’s Issues at Georgetown University. He has worked with vulnerable youth at Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village and co-founded Critical Thinking for P.E.A.C.E, a youth empowerment project in Rwanda. He also served with the U.S. State Department Pan-African Youth Leadership program. Manzi earned a Master of Public Policy degree with a global human development certificate from Georgetown University. He is a member of the Working Group on Child Rights and Family Values, part of the Culture of Encounter Project.

Batool Salloum

Batool Salloum is a recent graduate of Muhlenberg College with a B.S. in political science and computer science who will begin law school in fall 2024. Inspired by the International Catholic Migration Commission’s efforts to reunite her family impacted by the conflict in Syria, she aspires to advocate for the rights of displaced individuals within the legal field. Salloum’s experience includes roles such as a data science intern at the Lehigh Valley Justice Institute and legislative intern for Congresswoman Susan Wild.

Brenda Urizar

Brenda Urizar is a program manager with Catholic Relief Services in Guatemala. Born and raised in the western highlands of Guatemala, she oversees a portfolio of projects for children and adolescents, including the Changing the Way We Care initiative, which focuses on preventing child-family separation, promoting child reunification, and supporting public policies for children living outside of family care. Urizar has a master’s degree in sustainable development from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and has studied NGO management at Universidad Complutense Madrid.


Monsignor Robert J. Vitillo

Monsignor Robert J. Vitillo is the secretary general of the International Catholic Migration Commission. He also has served as attaché for health at the Holy See Mission to the United Nations and Specialized Agencies in Geneva and is a member of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Msgr. Vitillo is a social worker with expertise in migration and refugee services, child protection, human rights, HIV/AIDS, and global health. He previously served at Caritas Internationalis, both in Vatican City and in Geneva, and at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.


ICMC provides assistance and protection to vulnerable people on the move and advocates for sustainable solutions for refugees and migrants.