Thomas D. Williams, Breitbart, September 22, 2017
In his audience with the European national directors of the Church’s pastoral work with migrants here for a meeting sponsored by the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE), the Pope recognized the consternation caused by the “massive migrant flows” in Europe that have “thrown into crisis migratory policies held up to now.”
At the same time, Francis rejected national immigration policies designed to protect the cultural and religious identities of the peoples of Europe.
“I won’t hide my concern in the face of the signs of intolerance, discrimination and xenophobia that have arisen in different regions of Europe,” the pontiff said, which are “often fueled by reticence and fear of the other, the one who is different, the foreigner.”
“I am worried still more by the sad awareness that our Catholic communities in Europe are not exempt from these reactions of defensiveness and rejection, justified by an unspecified ‘moral duty’ to conserve one’s original cultural and religious identity,” he said.
A report this summer by the Centro Machiavelli found that Europe’s immigration crisis is causing an ‘unprecedented’ shift in Italy’s demographics.
As of last January, Italy had over five million foreigners living as residents, a growth of a remarkable 25 percent relative to 2012 and a full 270 percent over 2002. At that time, foreigners made up just 2.38 percent of the population while fifteen years later the figure has nearly trebled to 8.33 percent of the population.
If current trends continue, the report states, by 2065, first- and second-generation immigrants will exceed 22 million persons, or more than 40 percent of Italy’s total population.
In his address Friday, Francis appealed to the Church’s own history of missionary work among different cultures, as well as the universality of its mission in the world.
“The Church has spread through every continent thanks to the ‘migration’ of so many missionaries who were convinced of the universality of the message of salvation in Jesus Christ, destined for the men and women of every culture,” he said.