Recently retired Vatican secretary promises to continue defending immigrant rights


Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, the Vatican's former secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People, has promised to continue voicing his opinions on the rights of immigrants, though he recently stepped down from the Vatican post.

Vatican writers have been debating the possibility that Archbishop Marchetto might have been asked to leave his post due to his opinionated nature, rather than having left freely. In an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica released on Thursday, he repeated the fact that he did so on his own and added that his resignation doesn't mean he's backing down from important themes.

Speaking with La Repubblica, the archbishop recalled previous positions he took against Italian government policy regarding immigrant concerns and, more recently, against the expulsion of Roma ethnic peoples from France.

Shortly after Archbishop Marchetto's vocal response against an Italian government policy which aimed to form volunteer watchdog groups to ensure citizens' safety from immigrants, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi issued a statement clarifying the position of the Holy See, which supports civil authorities who have "the right and duty" to provide for the common good.

Asked by La Repubblica if he has ever felt put off for being criticized in public for his vocal perspectives, the archbishop responded, "Only silence in the face of injustice makes (me) feel bad.

"The critiques have never touched me and ... they've never conditioned me," he said, asking instead how it's possible not to speak before injustices against innocent immigrants.

"I've always spoken freely, without censorship and always in defense of the suffering, imitating every time the social doctrine of the Church.

It is another thing, he continued, to speak "in the name of the entire Church. And sometimes the secretary of state has done well to make it known, because only the Holy Father and, through his delegate, the very secretary of state, can speak in the name of the entire Church."

As to whether or not he'll be making open statements in defense of immigrants in retirement, he said, "In the Church there is always freedom of speech," adding in conclusion "if necessary, my voice will never be quiet in the face of injustices."

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