I hope that soon there will be a balanced management of migratory flows and of human mobility in general, so benefits can reach the entire human family, beginning with concrete measures which favor legal emigration and the reuniting of families....Only respect for human dignity for all migrants, on one hand, and the recognition by the migrants themselves of the values of the societies which host them, will make possible the proper integration of families in the social, economic and political systems [of the countries that host the migrants.]The above quote is particularly interesting because I believe the Pope may be "between a rock and a hard place" in speaking about immigration. The above address likely speaks primarily to Europeans about Muslim immigration, rather than about Latino Catholic immigration to the U.S.
[I may speak more about Latino immigration later, especially with regard to "recognition by the migrants themselves of the values of the societies which host them." My concerns relate to illegal immigrants to the U.S. being tempted to the sins of lying, graft, tax avoidance, and cover up of illegal activities, including not stopping for 'hit and run' accidents. Illegal immigration is not good training either for Catholics or for potential American citizens. Bad habits are hard to get rid of, you know.]
Rather, this post discusses the difficulties of Italy in trying to integrate Muslim immigrants and to insure their attachment to traditional Italian values. If not successful, the alternative is that Italy will have increasingly acrimonious political, social, and religious conflicts.
Italy has two choices: assimilation and multiculturalism, and neither appears workable. No where in Europe is there a universally recognised integration success story for Muslim minorities. Here is some recent background on Muslims in Italy.
- In comparison with other European countries, Italy's population of one million Muslims is small in comparison to 57 million total population
- "In Mazara del Vallo in Sicily, since the end of the 1970’s there has been a Tunisian community that obtained permission to preserve its identity in all respects, with Tunisian schools, teachers sent from Tunisia, Tunisian laws, etc. So although polygamy is illegal there, it is tolerated"--[Chiesa]
- "In recent years, the Islamic community [in Rome] has grown significantly, in great part due to immigration from North African and Middle Eastern countries into the city. As a consequence of this trend, the comune [sic] promoted the building of the largest mosque in Europe, which was designed by architect Paolo Portoghesi and inaugurated on June 21, 1995"--[Wikipedia]
- March 2006: Half a million people line up in Italy to apply for 170,000 work permits being offered by government to immigrants.
- August 11, 2006: A Pakistani immigrant kills his daughter in a so-called honour killing in northern Italy, and Italians are roiled by the murder
- Summer 2006: The Union of Italian Islamic Communities (UCOII) issues an anti-Israel statement comparing Israel to Nazi Germany. The UCOII demands a separate place for Islam in Italy with Koranic instruction, Islamic schools, Islamic banks, and clerical supervision of textbooks.
- Several former Italian ministers conclude Rome should disband, outlaw, or suspend UCOII, even though this controversial organization is by far the most important Muslim association in Italy and is emerging as an important political protagonist
- August 2006: Italian Minister of the Interior proposes that Muslim organizations in Italy will need to subscribe to a Charter of Values to signal their readiness to be fully integrated into Italian society and its political culture.
- Prime Minister Romano Prodi's government launches an ambitious plan to grant more access to citizenship for immigrants; in contrast, Spain has chosen to expel 800,000 "clandestine" immigrants.
- September 2006: A Finnish letter discusses possible joint European Union actions for controlling immigration.
- Late December 2006: Another 650 illegal Muslim immigrants arrive in Sicily by ship.