PETALING JAYA, Malaysia, (C.M. Paul) — The Asian Catholic media professionals from 16 countries gathered at Petaling Jaya (Malaysia) for Signis Asia Assembly, 1-5 October. They discussed the plight of vulnerable communities, especially migrant workers, refugees, trafficked persons, internally-displaced persons and children, in the Asian context.
“Hosting the Assembly in this country is exceptionally significant because Malaysia is not just the destination of the powerless and vulnerable communities, but also a hub and transit point for the region,” the Signis asia president Mr Lawrence John from Malaysia.
With the help of contributions from affected individuals, Church bodies, UNICEF, Tenaganita, ACTS (NGO for refugees), KOMAS, the International Labour Organisation, press and broadcast personnel, human rights centers and other similar bodies in the region, the 51 delegates explored and studies the theme Visibility for the Vulnerable: Refugees, Victims of Human Trafficking & Migrant Workers, with valuable inputs from various stakeholders and collaborators.
In a statement put out to the media the delegates endorsed that “the existence of vulnerable communities is a reality which is on the rise around the region, and needs to be addressed urgently.”
The assembly insisted that “freedom for the vulnerable demands that we have to respect and accept who they are – and not what we normally make them out to be.”
The statement further added, “We are aware that the issues concerning the lack of visibility for the vulnerable are major struggles, which need to be highlighted by media professionals and social communicators.”
As a practical step the members decided “As Catholic communicators, we accept that our role is not just about disseminating information but also about interacting and advocating. It is not just in telling but it is in doing; it is about collaborating.”
The statement called on members to have “the courage of our personal convictions on how far we would go to fight for the vulnerable, regardless of race, creed or gender, without choosing only the groups whom we are comfortable with, but being inclusive of all those who are facing subtle discrimination.”
It clarified saying “This means we will engage all media components such as the broadcast, print and new media to provide visibility for the vulnerable through our media education and local works in our respective communities.”
By this affirmative action the members hoped “This would affirm and align our works on the social teachings of the Church because religion without compassion and sacrifice is merely ritual, and theology without mission is merely dogma.”