Italy: Immigrants Turn To Crime Due To Poor Support, Says Priest

Otranto, 12 Nov. (AKI) – Many of Italy’s immigrants were turning to crime because they were given a poor reception and too little support, according to a priest honored for his scholarly work.

Father Enzo Bianchi, who founded the Monastic Community of Bose outside the northern Italian town of Turin, was one of two authors awarded the Premio Grinzane prize at a special ceremony in Puglia at the weekend.

Bianchi (photo) said Italy was facing a “critical situation” because waves of immigrants were coming from poor countries. He said the government and individuals needed to do more to make immigrants welcome.

“There is no will to really do something for them, we push them into crime,” Bianchi said. “We should ask ourselves what is the meaning of reception if we can’t give them a house or food.”

“There is no will to really do something for them, we push them into crime and this causes xenophobia.”

Italy is still reeling from the brutal murder of a woman allegedly by an unemployed Romanian just over a week ago and prompted the Italian government to issue an emergency decree to expel immigrants deemed a security threat.

The country has also been inundated by waves of illegal immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East. In the latest wave, a cargo ship with 275 illegal immigrants was intercepted by Greek authorities on Sunday after the vessel suffered mechanical failure en route from Turkey to Italy.

Bianchi said it was time Italians recognised theirs was no longer a “monolithic culture” but a “multicultural culture”.

“It takes great wisdom to handle this situation,” Bianchi said.”There is no intelligence especially from those people who are in charge.”

Bianchi has combined a life of prayer and monastic work with intense theological writing and has published a number of books and articles promoting interfaith dialogue.

Referring to relations between Catholics and Muslims, Bianchi said he was encouraged by the recent letter by 138 Muslim scholars to Pope Benedict XIV that called for peaceful dialogue.

The Grinzane award is an international award that recognises authors who have made significant contributions to tolerance, solidarity and integration.

South African author, Sindiwe Magona, was also honoured with a Grinzane Award for her books which highlight rape and violence against women and children in her country.

Magona said violence against women and children had become a ‘pandemic’ and AIDS was destroying people’s lives in South Africa.

“Victims of rape are victimised by the system, sentences do not fit the crime,” she said. “The reaction to this pandemic of rape is not as strong as it should be.

“Terrible things are happening to children – boys and girls. It’s very sad, it is terrible,” she said.

Magona, from Capetown, is a former member of the International Tribunal for Crimes against Women. She has written several books and has founded a non-profit organisation to prevent violence against women.

Speaking about other areas of Africa, Magona said life for women throughout Africa was very hard and too many women were still dying in childbirth or from poor health care.