Church Speaks Up for Immigrants and Children

Says Discrimination Contradicts Europe’s Fundamental Values

LANZAROTE, Spain, NOV. 8, 2007 ( The Holy See spoke out in defense of immigrants and children in Europe, noting that they are often the victims of discrimination.

Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, apostolic nuncio to Spain, participated as Holy See delegate to the 28th Conference of European Ministers of Justice, which was held in Lanzarote, Oct. 25-26.

In his talk, the text of which was made public today, the archbishop laid emphasis on “the conditions and means of access to justice for such vulnerable categories as immigrants and juveniles,” calling for “their rights to be protected and any forms of discrimination against them to be prevented or eliminated.”

The archbishop indicated that “European statistics show how such people, in one way or in another, suffer forms of exclusion and inequality of treatment in the workplace, in education […] and in health care. […] Moreover exploitation and abuse, including sexual abuse, which affect juveniles and immigrants — especially women — raise many moral and legal questions.”

“The Holy See delegation considers such situations to be in patent contradiction to the fundamental values that are rooted in European culture and inspire the process of integration among the peoples of Europe,” he said. Thus the risk exists “of transforming the vital rules of coexistence into a simple legal formality which, often, is not truly functional when faced with the requirements of social order.”

“As for the situation of political asylum seekers and refugees, it must be noted,” said Archbishop Monteiro, “that legal procedures are generally limited to authorizing their entry into the country,” and do not concern themselves “with the reasons that bring such people to escape from their native countries.”

“Therefore,” he added, “alongside humanitarian commitment, it is necessary to promulgate norms and procedures that translate the typical forms of European solidarity into legal terms, recognizing that, by reason of their dignity and the rights deriving from there, people must not be subject to discrimination.”