Correspondence

“Peaceful” Immigrants

The Catholic Church as a whole does not support illegal immigration, at least in principle.  However, an increasing number of clergy and prelates, especially in Italy, do grant de facto support to illegal immigration.  For example, the bishop of Caserta, Msgr. Raffaele Nogaro, was one of the first high-ranking prelates to support a protest by three Combonian missionaries and a nun who, in early June, chained themselves to the gates of the police headquarters in this city in Southern Italy near Naples.  They demanded that any efforts to deport illegal immigrants be immediately halted.  Their protest has expanded to at least 17 cities, including Rome, Florence, Bari, Milan, Palermo, Benevento, Avellino, and Naples.  It is now supported by nine bishops, including Milan’s Dionigi Cardinal Tettamanzi, and at least 33 religious-related NGO’s.  Some of the clergy are calling for illegal immigrants to be offered shelter in churches, monasteries, and other religious institutions.

The Vatican has also weighed in on this heated immigration debate, which has split the center-right government of Premier Silvio Berlusconi, by reminding politicians that immigrants need to be treated with respect and compassion.  Msgr. Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Refugees, told the press that it is a “political duty to regulate immigration but a Christian duty...

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