From file: Pope Francis (R) shakes hands with Undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Michael Czerny (L) in 2019 | Photo: Ettore Ferrari / Archive EPA
From file: Pope Francis (R) shakes hands with Undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Michael Czerny (L) in 2019 | Photo: Ettore Ferrari / Archive EPA

The Vatican has warned the center-right coalition that secured a parliamentary majority in Italy's recent national election that helping migrants is a moral obligation. "If someone is in difficulty in the middle of the sea, it is a moral and human obligation to help and not to make things harder", said Cardinal Michael Czerny.

Cardinal Michael Czerny, a senior Vatican figure and the prefect for the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, has warned that it is a "moral and human obligation" to help someone in difficulty in the middle of the sea and "not to make things harder".

The cardinal made the statement on Thursday (September 29), responding to reporters who asked him whether the Holy See was concerned about the victory in Italy of a coalition that doesn't consider hosting migrants as one of its government's priorities.

Giorgia Meloni's right-wing Brothers of Italy party won the national election on September 25 and is expected to form a governing coalition with the right-wing League party of Matteo Salvini and a more centrist right-wing party led by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, Forza Italia.

The cardinal stressed that the "Church in Italy has done a lot to accompany migrants and refugees, including with very important initiatives in the Mediterranean."

Migrating has been a right for thousands of years, cardinal says

Born in Czechoslovakia, Czerny, the Jesuit cardinal chosen by the pope to govern on a key issue for the pontiff - hosting those who leave their home country - was also a migrant. He left the town of Brno with his family when he was a child to move to Canada. His parents are also symbolically portrayed in the sculpture in St. Peter's square that shows a group of migrants on a boat.

For the cardinal, migrating "is a right that has existed for thousands of years" and it can't be cancelled.

Meeting participants at a gathering on immigration organized by the Pontifical Gregorian University, the pontiff on Thursday (September 29) stressed that the diversity migrants bring to host countries is an asset and their contribution has "huge potential."

"Their work, their ability to sacrifice, their youth and their enthusiasm enrich the communities that host them. But this contribution could be much bigger if valorized and supported through targeted programs", stressed the pope.

Migration, key issue for the church

He added that more needs to be done to remove the causes at the root of migration - from war to climate change - because there is also "a right not to be forced to migrate."

The theme of migration will therefore be key in relations between the Vatican and the new government after the victory of the center-right coalition in national elections. The Italian Bishops Conference CEI previously listed "the safeguard, promotion and integration of migrants" as part of the agenda of problems that need to be solved.

"The Church will continue to indicate, with severity if necessary, the common good and not personal interest, the defense of the inalienable rights of the person and the community", warned the president of the CEI, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi.

 

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