Balance Needed to Integrate Immigrants, Says Pope

Avoid Extremes of Assimilation, Marginalization

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 16, 2005 ( The social integration of immigrants calls for finding a «proper balance» between «respect for their own identity and recognition of that of others,» says John Paul II.

The Pope made that point today as the Church was observing World Day of Migrants and Refugees, whose theme is «Intercultural Integration.»

In his weekly Angelus address to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father referred to his message for the occasion, published Dec. 9.

In that document, he said, «I wished to emphasize the importance of integration among peoples, which calls for a proper balance between respect for their own identity and recognition of that of others.»

«I express my cordial greetings to all immigrants and hope that through dialogue friendliness and understanding will grow among the different cultures,» added the Holy Father from the window of his study.

The message given by the Pope in December calls for the exclusion of «assimilationist models» that aim to homogenize culture differences, as well as the avoidance of forms of marginalization that «can even arrive at the choice of apartheid.»

John Paul II in the text said that integration is not «assimilation,» which «leads migrants to suppress or to forget their own cultural identity. Rather, contact with others leads to discovering their ‘secret,’ to being open to them in order to welcome their valid aspects and thus contribute to knowing each one better.»

«In this process, the migrant is intent on taking the necessary steps towards social inclusion, such as learning the national language and complying with the laws and requirements at work, so as to avoid the occurrence of exasperated differentiation,» the Pope wrote.

Thus the need arises «for a dialogue between people of different cultures in a context of pluralism that goes beyond mere tolerance and reaches sympathy,» he added.

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