Italian bishops said at the spring session of the Permanent Episcopal Council in Rome last week that migrants should be welcomed into the country instead of being pushed back.
The Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) said that restricting access will not solve the migration issue in Italy, adding that there is a real need to increase possibilities for legal entry into the country.
The CEI said that the February 26 shipwreck off the Calabrian town of Cutro, in which at least 89 people died, had highlighted weaknesses in the policies adopted under Prime Minister Georgia Meloni to manage the arrival of refugees and migrants. On March 23, the corpse of another victim of the Cutro shipwreck was recovered at sea.
"The Cutro tragedy is an open wound which shows the slack responses put in place," the CEI said. "Limiting oneself to closing, controlling and turning people back not only fails to offer broad solutions, it also contributes to feeding illegal conduct."
Saving lives of utmost importance
The bishops said at the end of the conference that "(f)ar-sighted European and national policies are needed to manage entry flows via legal channels, which means safe pathways that avoid dangerous sea voyages" for people leaving their home countries due to hunger and violence.
The CEI added that efforts should also be made to precent people from suffering in detention centers and give real prospects for a better future instead.
"A political strategy consisting solely of control, public order, restrictions and refoulement fails to grasp the real problem, which is the defence of human lives. They must be rescued, and their integration must be ensured," CEI Secretary-General Giuseppe Baturi said.
Church wants to help create safe mechanisms
Baturi added that the Catholic Church was willing to engage in dialogue and do its part to help create humanitarian corridors and other means to bring migrants to the country through legal channels.
"We are willing to collaborate, drawing on decades of experience, to broaden the legal channels for safeguarding lives, while stemming the malicious business of criminal organisations," Baturi stressed.
Baturi stressed that any policy "must face up to the fact that the freedom to leave must be linked to the freedom to remain, and this is only possible if dignified living conditions are in place."