Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vatican Official in US: Immigration Has Benefits

Says Migration Is Opportunity for Interreligious Dialogue

SAN DIEGO, California, JAN. 27, 2009 ( Zenit.org ).- Immigration presents both a challenge and an opportunity, and requires the promotion of authentic integration as well as respect for the dignity of each person, affirmed a Vatican official in California.
Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, said this today in an address at San Diego University. The theme of the conference was "Religion, Migration and National Identity."

Archbishop Marchetto spoke about the cultural identity of migrants, easily lost when they move to a new society, and the need to prepare people for this step through pre-migration educational programs.

He addressed the need for genuine integration of migrants into their host society, avoiding the extremes of total rejection of the new culture and its consequent marginalization, or the migrant's adoption of the "local cultural model without in the least attempting to evaluate its consequences on the way they conduct their own lives."

The prelate stated that this intercultural integration through dialogue is the responsibility of the immigrant as well as the host society.

He continued, "A simple juxtaposition of groups of migrants and locals tends to encourage a reciprocal closure between cultures, or the establishment, among them, of relations that are merely superficial or tolerant. We should encourage instead a mutual fecundation of cultures."

Archbishop Marchetto addressed the importance of emphasizing respect for the dignity of each person, including respect for their cultural practices and religious traditions.

He pointed out that due to the link between culture and religion, "international migration has become a golden opportunity not only for dialogue between cultures, but also for interreligious dialogue."

He added, "If therefore society wants to benefit from international migration, then it must respect the freedom of migrants to profess, practice and even change their religion."

In this regard, the archbishop advocated the principle of reciprocity, "a relationship based on mutual respect and on justice in juridical and religious matters" that "enables us to live together everywhere with equal rights and duties."

He concluded by affirming the "treasure" of plurality of cultures, and the need to promote the value of unity, living as one human family according to God's design.

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-24922?l=english

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