Members of the Spanish NGO "Open Arms" rescue a woman in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast Members of the Spanish NGO "Open Arms" rescue a woman in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast  

Italian bishops warn against culture of fear that closes the doors on migrants

The Italian Episcopal Conference released a statement on Thursday warning against a culture of fear that, they say, fosters a climate of mistrust and rejection towards migrants. They also appealed for the respect for life and the will to protect, promote and integrate those fleeing their homes.

By Linda Bordoni

A statement released on Thursday by the Italian Bishops’ Conference warns against a current climate of fear in the country that has led to a political crackdown against immigration.

The statement, entitled “Migrants, from fear to welcome” notes that we are becoming accustomed to images of an ongoing tragedy in which so many die or witness death during their journeys of hope.

we have become accustomed to tragedy

“The barred eyes and the vitreous gaze of those who see themselves grabbed, in extremis, from the abyss that has swallowed up other human lives, the bishops say, are only the last image of a tragedy to which we must not become accustomed to.”

“We feel responsible for this army of poor people, victims of war and hunger, of deserts and torture” they say.

It is the tormented history of men, women and children, a history that cries out against the closing of borders and the erection of walls, and that demands we dare, the bishops say, offer solidarity, justice and peace.

“As Pastors of the Church, they continue, we do not pretend to offer cheap solutions. With regard to what is happening, however, we do not intend to look the other way or to make contemptuous words and aggressive attitudes our own. We cannot allow anxiety and fear to influence our choices, determine our responses, foster a climate of mistrust and contempt, anger and rejection”.

The new Italian government’s anti-immigration stance has seen a number of rescue vessels carrying migrants adrift for days in the Mediterranean after being denied entry to Italy, purportedly to discourage traffickers.   

Gospel's call to foster life

Pointing out that they are driven by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the bishops say they continue to lend their voice to those who lack it.

Inviting all Christian communities to be welcoming and show authentic fraternity, they express gratitude “to those who - alongside and together with us - with their availability provide signs of compassion, farsightedness and courage, and are builders of an inclusive culture, capable of protecting, promoting and integrating”.

We unequivocally feel, the Italian bishops conclude, that the way to save humanity from vulgarity and decline is through the commitment to protect life: every life, starting with the most vulnerable, the most humiliated, the most trampled upon.”

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19 July 2018, 15:39