Archbishop calls for acceptance of Muslims without losing Spain’s religious identity

.- Archbishop Luis Martinez Sistach of Barcelona, Spain, underscored this week the need to harmonize the rights of Muslim immigrants with the right and the duty to respect the social, cultural and religious identity of Spain.

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper “La Razon,” the new archbishop said that the challenge of the growing Muslim immigration in Spain requires that “respect for the rights of immigrants be harmonized with our own rights, which also includes the duty to respect the social, cultural and religious identity and configuration of the country which welcomes them.”

“We must avoid falling into two attitudes: adopt everything they offer without any kind of discernment and thus lose our identity, or oppose them with xenophobic actions.  For Christians it is a duty to welcome them as persons, especially if they are in need, without hiding the fact that we are helping them because of our Christian faith,” the archbishop said.

During the interview Archbishop Sistach defended the roll of Catholic schools in the country.  “Catholic schools provide an incalculable service to parents in the education of their children.”

Parents are “responsible first for the education of their children, they have a right to choose a school that is in conformity with their religious convictions.  Catholic schools respond to this right of the parents.  It is a right recognized in international declarations and in the Spanish Constitution itself that these schools exist,” he said.

In same way, he added, “schools and education should be a matter of the State and not dependent upon the change of power from one party to the next.  That would bolster the democratic character of our country.”

Later on the archbishop made reference to the role of the new ecclesial movements in “the new evangelization,” pointing out that “they have been conceived in the Church under the impulse of the Holy Spirit and they are doing great work for evangelization.  The collaboration between these movements and the more traditional movements in the diocesan churches should bear much fruit in the midst of a very secularized society.”

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