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Conclusions on Migration to and From Islamic Countries

6/24/2006 - 5:15 AM PST

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From Plenary Session of Pontifical Council

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 24, 2006 (Zenit) - Here are the conclusions and recommendations issued by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, after its plenary assembly May 15-17, on the theme "Migration and Itinerancy from and towards Islamic Majority Countries."

The Vatican press office issued the document Thursday.

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Conclusions and Recommendations

Muslim Migrants in countries of Christian majority

1) In this regard, an increase in immigration of Muslims was observed in European and North American countries, of ancient Christian tradition (see instruction "Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi" -- henceforth EMCC -- Nos. 59 and 65). They come in search of a job or democracy, or for family reunification.

2) From this came the encouragement of integration (not assimilation) of Muslim immigrants (cf. EMCC 2, 60-61).

3) In consequence Catholics, in particular, are called to practice solidarity with Muslim immigrants, to be open to sharing with them and to know more about their culture and religion. At the same time they are to bear witness to their own Christian values, also in view of a new evangelization which of course respects freedom of conscience and religion (cf. EMCC, 59 and 69).

4) This means that Christians must get to know more deeply their identity (cf. EMCC, 60) as disciples of Christ, bearing witness to this in their lives and rediscovering their role in the new evangelization (cf. EMCC, 86-88).

5) It is therefore important to affirm the necessity of mutual respect and human solidarity, in an atmosphere of peace, based on the centrality of the human person, his/her dignity, rights and duties.

6) Naturally, each one's human rights and freedoms go hand in hand with those of others.

Dialogue

7) The participants in the Plenary Session strongly showed awareness of the need for authentic dialogue between believers of different religions, especially between Christians and Muslims (cf. EMCC, 69).

8) In this context, relations based on "spiritual emulation" were considered important.

9) Thus, if dialogue between Christians and Muslims is indispensable everywhere, it is especially so in Western societies, in order to improve mutual knowledge and understanding, as well as reciprocal respect and peace.

10) In any case, while it is necessary to welcome Muslim immigrants with respect for their religious freedom, it is likewise indispensable for them to respect the cultural and religious identity of the host societies.

11) It was also deemed vital to distinguish between what the receiving societies can and cannot tolerate in Islamic culture, what can be respected or shared with regard to followers of other religions (see EMCC, 65 and 66), and to have the possibility of giving indications in this regard also to policymakers, toward a proper formulation of civil legislation, with due respect for each one's competence.

12) This means also proposing a model of religious dialogue which is not only conversation, nor just listening to one another, but which reaches a mutual revelation of each one's own profound spiritual convictions.

13) It is therefore important to accompany the dialogue partner in the process of thinking out the ethical and actual dimensions, and not only the theological and religious ones, of the consequences of requests addressed to civil society, while duly respecting the distinction between civil and religious dialogue.

14) Given the reaffirmed importance of the principle of reciprocity (see EMCC, 64), confirmed by the Holy Father in his talk to the participants in the plenary session, it is thus necessary to move toward a distinction between the civil and the religious spheres also in Islamic countries.

15) In any case, it is fundamental, in this context, to distinguish between the West and Christianity, because often Christian values no longer inspire the attitude, position or actions (also with regard to public opinion) in the so-called Western world (see EMCC, 60).

16) The participants of the plenary session also expressed the hope that in those areas where Christian and Muslims "live together," they may unite their efforts, together with all their other fellow citizens, to guarantee everyone, without distinction of religion, the full exercise of his/her rights and individual freedoms, personally and as a member of a community.

Situation in some Islamic majority countries

17) On the other hand, in Islamic majority countries, Christians and immigrant workers, in general, who are poor and without real contractual ...

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