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Immigration debate flares as Pope meets Sarkozy

October 08, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Vatican on October 8, for a 30-minute talk that touched on the peace process in the Middle East, religious freedom for Christians in various countries, and the ethical dimension of economic policies. A joint statement released after the meeting did not mention any controversial topics, and reported that the encounter had been cordial. However, the French President’s arrival at the Vatican drew new attention to the Holy See’s criticism of the Sarkozy government’s crackdown on illegal immigrants, particularly Gypsies.

At a Friday service in St. Peter’s basilica, which Sarkozy attended, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the French-born president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, encouraged prayers “that immigrants and those who are persecuted are welcomed." Later in the day, at a luncheon attended by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the French president made it clear that he would not back down. He said that the struggle against illegal immigration is a “moral imperative.”

Sarkozy made that pointed comment on illegal immigration only after having indicated his support for Vatican positions on several other issues. He called for an understanding of secularism that allows for religious involvement in public affairs. “There is not religion without social responsibility, nor politics without morality,” he said. Specifically referring to the economic problems facing Europe, Sarkozy echoed the argument of Pope Benedict that “there is an intellectual and moral dimension” to the crisis.

The French leader also provided a glimpse of his conversation with the Pope on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. He cited the need to “repair the injustice done to the Palestinian people” by establishing an independent state, while also ensuring that the Israeli people can live in security.


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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Obregon - Oct. 10, 2010 12:47 AM ET USA

    Immigrants, just immigrants, nothing about "illegal" immigrants as if the Church were not aware of the existence of illegal immigrants. We all know, or as Catholics should know that the violation of human rights of illegal as well as any legal immigrant is wrong, but to pretend that every human being has citizen rights even if illegal is to undermined immigration laws. I recently went to Europe with my wife and in every country we visited we had to show a passport. Gee, I wonder why?

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Oct. 08, 2010 7:36 PM ET USA

    The problem is secularism sees morality as pretty much ever changing and in the realm of the pragmatic. It rests on no firm foundation so what is good or right today is outlawed tomorrow or vice versa. Secularism is at its heart a spiritually and morally bankrupt religion that masquerades as some sort of "neutral" philosophy and panacea for all the ills of the world. The Church has the answer to secularism but we need to live it and proclaim it.