Cardinal Raymond Burke: Italy Should Focus More on Problems of Italian Citizens, ‘Not Just Migrants’

Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, head of the Vatican's highest Tribunal, attends the Christmas Eve Mass held by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter's Basilica on December 24, 2010 in Vatican City, Vatican.
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Cardinal Raymond Burke (pictured), the former head of the Vatican’s highest court, said that the Italian government should be paying more attention to the problems of the country and its citizens, rather than focusing exclusively on migrants.

In an interview on Italian television this week, Burke praised the generosity of Italians in receiving migrants, but cautioned government officials against concern for migrants to the detriment of their own citizens.

“The government should be thinking about the problems of the country and not just migrants,” Burke said.

A Wisconsin native, Burke now works as patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and continues to reside in Rome.

Burke insisted that many Italians are experiencing serious problems that deserve more attention from their elected officials. “The government must become aware of the suffering of so many Italians,” he said. “For example, many Italians suffer from unemployment. I myself know many young people who are well trained for work but cannot find employment.”

The cardinal also called for greater realism in understanding what it means to assimilate such large numbers of migrants. “The Italian Government has to realize how what it means to take in so many migrants, while considering the internal problems that exist in the country.”

Cardinal Burke called Europe’s migrant crisis “very complex” and recalled that the countries of origin have responsibility for the situation as well. He also underscored the need to distinguish between true refugees and those who migrate for other reasons.

In his homily at Mass on Palm Sunday, Pope Francis decried the “hand-washing” of those who remain indifferent to the fate of refugees, comparing this indifference to the attitude of Pontius Pilate toward Jesus.

“And I think of the many people, so many outcasts, so many asylum seekers, so many refugees, all of those for whose fate no one wishes to take responsibility,” he said.

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