Catholic universities need to come together to face both the challenging facts and the challenge to theology presented by the migrant.

This was the message that Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, former Secretary to the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, gave to the participants of the conference "The Primacy of Relation and the Challenge of the Migrant" in his opening plenary. Tomasi pointed to the new challenges presented by minors as migrants as well as to the global dimension of migration. It is not a phenomenon limited to just a few countries.

Whereas some speak of national sovereignty as an imperative that trumps hospitality to the migrant, Scalabrinian priest Leonir Chiarello also introduced the notion of human sovereignty. Notre Dame anthropologist and Kellogg Faculty Fellow Maurizio Albahari, an expert on transmediterrean migration, likewise reflected on the sites around globe in which xenophobia and practices of state sovereignty stand in conflict with the notion of the earth as a common home.

Kellogg Faculty Fellow Dan Groody, CSC focused on a chalice created out of the wood of shipwrecks that was used by Pope Francis when he celebrated Mass for the refugees on the island of Lampedusa.

Philosophers and theologians from Lyon, Perugia, Genova, and Rio de Janeiro deepened the reflection about the political and ecclesial idea of prioritizing relation in the face of the challenge of the migrant. A particular joy was the participation of doctoral candidates from the Studi di Perugia and elsewhere who made presentations on the conference theme.

First published in the University of Notre Dame's Rome Global Gateway newsletter, February 2017.