VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The best way to integrate migrants into a new country is to ensure that they are involved in their host community’s social and civic life, a Vatican official said.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva, told members of the International Organization for Migration that oftentimes, migrants are “relegated to confined areas” particularly in countries that have “a significant gap between the haves and have-nots.”

“This situations calls for a rethinking of the relationship between the city and migrants both in terms of urban space, as well as of their interactions with other social groups,” he said. “Therefore, it is necessary to design a new public space directed at increasing sustainable relationships between inhabitants in the urban spaces.”


The archbishop spoke Oct. 27 at a two-day conference sponsored by the International Organization for Migration on how migration and migrants are impacting cities around the world.

Archbishop Tomasi said that with an appropriate welcome and assistance, migrants can be “entrepreneurs, new contributors to an ever-evolving social setting.”

“Their involvement in the social and civil life of the urban community facilitates their integration and allows them to give back to the host country what they have received,” he said. The archbishop said integration and involvement also lead to “mutual trust and confidence” between migrants and their host cities.

Welcoming migrants gives a deeper meaning to citizenship by emphasizing everyone’s participation for the betterment of their society and community, Archbishop Tomasi said.

“The contribution of each person becomes valuable in the construction of citizenship ‘from below’: the inherent dignity of each human being is given new relevance,” he said.