Images of the Pope’s visit to Lesbos follow one another on television. Immigrants praise him, Greeks thank him, and the Orthodox Patriarch embraces and blesses him. The Pope, Vicar of Christ, thanks Greeks for their hospitality toward immigrants, while Europe is criticized for building walls. Truth to be told, in two years of endeavors in the Commission for the Recognition of Measures for International Protection, I have not ascertained in the stories of many asylum seekers welcoming attitudes showed by the authorities of a country, obviously burdened by widespread poverty.
Today, we appeal Europe as the home of human rights. Unfortunately, I think Europe is merely a chimera at present, an institution strongly desired to promote free movement of goods and people, which is reversing its own decision. Europe’s Christian roots have not been shared and today we are taken aback by the xenophobic climate reigning in Europe…
About 153,000 immigrants arrived to Greece and 25,000 to Italy this year. 5 million foreigners live in Italy, whose population counts 60 million people. So what? Are these numbers really that worrying?
Where does fear comes from? First and foremost from misinformation and lack of a European identity. Yet, hospitality has also its “positive aspects”. Do Italians know that 40% of the European funds spent on refugees are given to Italians operators?
What about lack of an identity? Europe made itself recognized in fear and opposition. The Gospel is not enough to solve the problem of reception. As Christians we have no choice, but as Europeans, the problem had to be faced in a concrete way. Whereas Italy has been left alone. Recently, an agreement between Europe and Turkey earmarked 6 billion euros to that State for the reception of immigrants transferred from Greece. Have all the problems been solved?! I do not think so.
With immigration, people flee from war, poverty, and many other things. Do Italians know that out of about 11,000 minors who arrived to Italy 6,000 have disappeared?! What are Italy and Europe doing for these poor boys and girls? Are we sure that these children have been more fortunate than the many who died at sea, on their journey towards a place of safety and hope?