Plenty of Room for Everyone, Says Archbishop

Notes Some Pros and Cons of Immigration

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VICENZA, Italy, OCT. 8, 2009 ( The earth has space for everyone, but the whole human family must commit to sharing resources, says Archbishop Agostino Marchetto.

The secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers affirmed this Monday in Vicenza at a meeting organized by the diocesan foundation for migrants. The prelate reflected on immigration in the light of “Caritas in Veritate.”

In the encyclical, the Pope refers to the causes that impel millions of men and women to emigrate, such as lack of food, problems with water, agriculture, the environment, energy and the search for dignified work, noted the archbishop.
Globalization is another cause of migration, which contributes to bringing whole regions out of underdevelopment but, as the Holy Father wrote, can also contribute to “problems never before known and new divisions in the human family.”

In any case, the archbishop affirmed, citing the Pontiff, there is space for everyone on our earth. “On it,” he said, “the whole human family must find the necessary resources to live worthily with the help of nature itself, a gift of God to his children, and with the commitment of one’s work and inventiveness.”

Human resources

Taking up one of the main themes of “Caritas in Veritate,” that of development, the archbishop acknowledged that the relationship between migration and development is “quite complex.”

“The cause-effect relationship is not lineal between the two terms,” he said.

The prelate explained: If, on one hand, we “consider that the lack of development in the land of origin causes emigration, because it is difficult to secure a worthy life there, or even to satisfy essential needs for survival for oneself and for one’s family,” on the other, “emigration itself can also cause a lack of development, which becomes very difficult if the original country is deprived of its best human resources.”

This latter phenomenon, referred to as brain drain, is especially problematic for original nations in regard to health workers, he said.
“And yet,” the Vatican official observed, “it would be a violation of their human rights and freedom of movement if measures were taken that rob them of the possibility of deciding freely whether to go or stay.”


Archbishop Marchetto also reflected on the issue of immigrants’ integration in their new societies.

“When we speak of integration, does it mean that the immigrant must adapt himself to the local model of life, until he becomes a copy of the natives, neglecting his own legitimate cultural roots?” the archbishop asked.

If this is so, he replied, the immigrant would be “assimilated but not integrated.”

Assimilation, Archbishop Marchetto lamented, is an impoverishment for both sides — both for the immigrant and for his new country.
“The immigrant’s cultural and human contribution to the host society is thus minimized, if not annulled,” the archbishop stated.

Though migrants must take the necessary steps to be included in their new countries, he said, this process must nevertheless “respect the cultural heritage that each one carries with him.”
Integration is not “a one-way street, to be followed only by the immigrant, but also by the society of arrival, which, in contact with him, discovers his ‘richness,’ receiving the values of the culture,” Archbishop Marchetto affirmed.
Hence, the Vatican official contended, both sides must be ready to commit, “given that dialogue is the engine of integration and this presupposes a reciprocal relationship.”
Only in this way, as the Pope recalled in his encyclical, will it be possible to give “unity and peace to the city of man,” the archbishop concluded, “and to make it in some measure a prefiguring anticipation of God’s city without barriers.”

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