Bishop Antonio Ceballos of Cadiz and Ceuta, Spain, has issued a pastoral letter marking the World Day of Immigrants and Refugees scheduled for January 15 in which he calls for greater respect for the dignity of immigrants in order to help keep them from “becoming isolated, which is the worst thing that can happen to them.”
In his pastoral letter the bishop noted that frequently immigrants “feel alone and lost in an unknown, almost hostile world.” As a result, he explained, they stay together and lose interest in the values, culture and beliefs of the society that surrounds them and end up being marginalized as strangers and foreigners.
Bishop Ceballos, whose diocese includes territory both on the Iberian Peninsula and Africa, said a greater effort needs to be made to understand the “complex and diverse” situation of immigrants, to discover their “sufferings and difficulties,” and to ensure that integration “is not understood to mean a type of assimilation that suppresses or discounts one’s own cultural identity.”
May contact with immigrants “lead us to discover their secret and their mystery and to open ourselves to them to accept their valid qualities and contribute thus to a greater understanding of each of them and a mutual enrichment of all,” the bishop said.
Immigrants, he continued, should strive to integrate into their new societies and avoid isolation: they should learn the national language, understand and adapt to laws and to the norms of society and the workplace.
Bishop Ceballos added that it is important that people fully understand the immigration phenomenon and all of its aspects and consequences, “without falling into superficial analysis or being influenced by current fads and clichés.”