Today, as in the past, migrations represent one of the peculiar aspects characterising the complex European landscape. Migration constitutes an element that defines Europe’s historical, cultural and political identity. In spite of those who imagine a Europe closed in within its borders, shrouded by the idea of being contaminated by new incomers, our historical past marked by constant incoming and outgoing flows of migrants, raises important challenges for our future.
The resilience of local realities will depend on the ability to understand what is happening today. Identifying the limits and opportunities of migration flows should represent the common denominator of every cognitive process, critical to the promotion of farsighted policies. Unfortunately, the situation we witness today is aloof from a strategic, proactive approach. The inability to wittingly address the present challenges fosters the advancement of a simplification process expressed through short-term interim solutions.
Downplaying the immigration phenomenon. The idea that such a widespread and complex phenomenon can be addressed with simple, limited tools in terms of effectiveness, is often due to the inability to govern immigration rather than proposing a long-term project aimed at the development of migrants and of their countries of origin, including the communities where these people decide to settle down.
Moreover, the appeal exerted by those who flaunt miracle-solutions supposedly capable of stopping what is presented as a dangerous flow into Europe, explains recent elections results in several European and overseas Countries that saw the victory of “sovereignist” movements, whose thought worms into the many cracks that are imperilling the very foundations of the European common home and the very idea of democracy.
Italy is evidently not immune from these dynamics, and that is why it is exposing the surly face of one who puts in place all available tools to curb migratory flows, notably the decision to close ports and the adoption of two provisions aimed at reshaping immigration laws and reception.
It’s a dangerous path lacking a horizon of meaning to seize the opportunities linked to human mobility. Instead, crushed by populist frenzy, we are putting the blame of failing to provide appropriate solutions to our present political, economic and cultural challenges, on migrants.
Reviving the challenge of complex migration phenomena. Today, more than ever before, in-depth reflection and advocacy is needed to reconsider the mobility phenomenon in realistic, concrete and proactive terms; mitigating the climate of diffidence requires solutions that integrate migrants into the social, political and cultural life of the Country of arrival, highlighting the important role they play in the economy and culture of origin, transit and destination countries.
The present debate on this issue highlights the gap separating reality from the perception of the migration phenomenon and its consequences. Public opinion is exposed to a constant, deceitful and alarming flow of communication that fuels a climate of tension along with widespread hostility towards migrants, to the point that the latter are merely viewed as a burden by reception Countries.
Human mobility is unquestionably a complex challenge, but it’s also a major opportunity for the development of our Country, of Europe and of the poor Countries that migrants depart from. This opportunity is not seized by erecting walls but by acknowledging in full migrant peoples’ potential positive contribution, and by adopting policies based on migration & development.
How to work with communities. Given this situation, a serious reflection on the role of the Christian community, with special focus on its commitment aimed at ensuring reception, integration and legal channels for migrants, can be postponed no longer. This requires a cultural effort to support the necessary discernment of local realities to understand what is happening today. The circular, holistic approach of the Italian Church to the migration issue stands as a unique example at global level. Yet this widespread commitment seems to be no longer sufficient to curb the wave of diffidence –with outbursts of intolerance – that is increasingly infecting our local realities.
We are facing a form of unrecognized humanism that testifies to the urgency of activating all possible resources to promote a culture that puts the human person at the centre, a culture based on the idea of integral human development for the wellbeing of individuals and communities in their multifaceted political, economic, social, cultural, ecologic and spiritual dimensions.
Reiterating a different idea of development today. Development cannot be reduced to mere economic growth. True development requires integral development, namely, it must foster the development “of each man and of the whole man.” At n° 15, the encyclical Populorum progressio (1967, PP), that Paul VI dedicated to the theme of development, summarizes Church social doctrine understanding of this issue. Reflections that are confined to material and economic aspects or ones that are limited to the cultural or political spheres alone, thereby failing to address them all and failing to embrace the spiritual dimension, are incomplete. For the same reason, they must equally acknowledge all men and all peoples. In fact, rooted in her faith tradition, the Church constantly reaffirms the greatness of the vocation of all human beings, created in God’s image and likeness and called to be members of the same family.