An Italian bishop has published a Christmas letter sharply critical of interior minister Matteo Salvini’s security decree, saying it has abandoned “thousands of immigrants of every color and origin living in our cities.”
Far from being a “sacred representation,” this year’s Nativity scenes will be a “living dramatization” of migrants like Jesus in search of a home, said Giuseppe Piemontese, the recently named bishop of Terni, in his letter, thanks to the recent legislation aimed at curbing illegal immigration.
The bishop said that his recent pastoral visits gave him “the opportunity and the joy of meeting the Christian communities in their various components: families, associations and various parish groups.”
“In the various meetings there were poor people afflicted by various degrees of insecurity and immigrants of every condition: regular and irregular, without residence permits, asylum seekers, or those who have arrived from humanitarian corridors,” he said.
“I met a humanity of global origin,” the bishop continued. “They have all heard the good news that Jesus, two thousand years ago, came to take our miseries upon himself and give us hope. In Christmas, this announcement is renewed, according to tradition, and resonates more than ever even in our current day.”
At the center of Christmas is “the icon of the Holy Family in search of refuge, in the city of Bethlehem and finally as exiles and refugees in Egypt,” the bishop said.
“If we want to live a truly Christian Christmas, each one of us must open himself to sentiments and works of compassion and humanity,” he said.
Matteo Salvini, himself a Catholic, while extremely popular with the rank and file, has been the ongoing target of the Catholic establishment in Italy, which has labelled him everything from the antichrist to Satan.
For his part, Mr. Salvini has insisted that uncontrolled immigration “leads to chaos, racism, and social conflict,” whereas the “only antidote to racism” is orderly migration.
Orderly immigration “guarantees the rights of both Italians and immigrants,” Salvini said in an interview earlier this year, unlike the unchecked immigration of the past few years, which has resulted in “chaos.”
“The only antidote to racism — and the Italians are anything but racist — is to return to a respect for laws and regulations, and monitor who enters and who leaves this country,” he said.
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