POPE FRANCIS IS STARTING TO MAKE SENSE – Miracles never cease and 2016 never stops to amaze. Pope Francis at a recent news conference eschews the usual nice sounding rhetoric and injects some much needed realism into the immigration debate:

What do I think of countries that close their frontiers? I think that, in theory, hearts must not be closed to refugees, but those who govern need prudence. They must be very open to receiving refugees, but they also have to calculate how best to settle them, because refugees must not only be accepted, but also integrated. Consequently, if a country has, say, the ability to integrate twenty persons, they should do this. Another country that has greater capacity should do more…

What is the danger when refugees or migrants – and this applies to everybody – are not integrated? They become a ghetto.

A culture that does not develop in relationship with another culture, this is dangerous. I think that fear is the worst counsellor of countries that tend to close their borders, while the best counsellor is prudence. I talked with an official of the Swedish government these days, and he told me of some difficulties they are presently facing… because so many are arriving that there is no time to make provision for them, so that they can find schools, homes, employment, and learn the language. Prudence has to make this calculation.

In fact, it’s a two-step process: integration and assimilation. To my mind, integration is the mechanics of inclusion – as the Pope mentions, the language, education, work – while assimilation is a mental process of fitting in with the culture and mores of the country. It doesn’t mean you have to stop speaking the language you have spoken since birth, or abandon your religion, but it means accepting the political institutions, the laws and the traditions of your new home. We’re seeing little of the former and even less of the latter in Europe at the moment, partly due to vestigial influences of the declining religion of multiculturalism and partly because of the sheer unmanageable numbers of arrivals. That has to change before the public support for immigration of any sort erodes completely.

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