Intervention by Card. Angelo Bagnasco, CCEE President

The migrant’s religion: a challenge for Society and the Church

Conference promoted by the Catholic University and the Italian Bishops’ Conference on the eve of the 106th World Migrant and Refugee Day

“Recognising that the religious dimension is an integral part of the person is essential for society to be not condescending, but just towards every person”. So was said by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, in his introductory greeting to the conference “The migrant’s religion: a challenge for Society and the Church” ongoing today Friday 25 September at the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development of the Holy See, and promoted by the Catholic University, in collaboration with the Italian Bishop’s Conference on the eve of the 106th World Migrant and Refugee Day.

“Conceived as a purely private matter to be confined to the margins of cohabitation would be an intellectual myopia or a form of secularism without secularism. Laicism lives on prejudices while secularism uses open reason, i.e. in the totality of its functions”. According to Cardinal Bagnasco, when talking about religion the first word that comes to mind is tolerance. “Personally, I prefer to talk about respect because nobody wants to be simply tolerated but respected”, notes the President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences. “Moreover, tolerance could be understood as a form of valuable neutralism, therefore ultimately, of disinterest. From this perspective secularism, which declares itself to be tolerant, would in reality be rather indifferent and disrespectful, would deny the true secularism whose principle is written in the Gospel and which, while not espousing any belief, recognises the human being in his religious and ethical truth”. And if respect is the possible condition for cohabitation, there are two criteria for Cardinal Bagnasco that can be evoked. The first is the following: “How has religion the possibility to warn against the rational of self-affirmation that makes it lose contact with reality, so reason can be vigilant about any possible form of clear violence that might be present in every creed as well as in every ideology, culture and society”. The other criterion is the “evidence of history”, that which requires the effort of thinking and scientific rigour. “If religion gives birth to a vision and a way of living, then centuries and millennia are witnesses of the fruitfulness or otherwise of different religious forms. And we European citizens should be more aware of this and more grateful for it”.

Attached is the full text of the Intervention by Cardinal Bagnasco.