Religious Leaders Meet with Political Heads to Confront Issues of Religion, Immigration and Identity

( [email protected] ) Oct 31, 2003 10:34 AM EST

ROME – Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders met with the political heads of Europe’s police forces to discuss the future of the European Union, Thursday, at Rome.

The meeting of the interior ministers and religious leaders focused on topics of immigration and religion in respect to issues of terrorism and security.

"We don't want migration to become a sort of concern as far as security" goes, Antonio Vitorino, the EU's commissioner for justice and home affairs, said.

The main concern broached by the committee was the increase in immigration and the consequential loss of identity.

The predominantly Catholic Italy, whose population is growing though the entrance of immigrants, including thousands of Muslims, is currently debating over whether crucifixes should be removed from public school.

"There is growing fear of immigration in Europe," Italy's interior minister, Giuseppe Pisanu, said. "We fear for our security, for our identity, for our jobs and social stability."

Pisaru fears that the immigrants, shunted to the margins of Western society, may turn toward terrorism.

Germany and France, both built upon Christian backdrops, are perplexed as to whether women wearing Islamic headscarves challenge their societies.

In addition, politicians throughout Europe are divided over the inclusion of “God” in their upcoming constitution.

According to some, the reference to God “blurs the line between church and state.” Others argue that the reference to God is “essential to avoid the rebirth of totalitarian regimes.”

Participants to the conference also included Anglican bishop, a Catholic archbishop from Spain and a Greek Orthodox bishop. On Friday, the interior ministers will meet with Pope John Paul II.