Cardinal Expresses Concerns Over Muslim Veils in Europe

One of the most senior cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church has joined the debate over Muslim veils among immigrant communities in Europe.

|PIC1|Cardinal Renato Martino expressed his concern over the matter this week, the first time the Vatican has joined the quickly expanding Europe-wide debate on how wearing the veil affects integration into societies.

Cardinal Martino urged that immigrants must respect the traditions, culture and religion of the nations they travel to. In particular, they should abide by local laws banning the wearing of certain types of Muslim veils if necessary, he added.

Cardinal Martino is the head of the Vatican department which deals with migration issues. He said, "It seems elementary to me and it is quite right that the authorities demand it."

The comments came as Cardinal Martino attended a news conference to promote a Vatican statement aimed at encouraging the integration of migrants across Europe.

In Italy, a law was passed during the attacks of the Red Brigades urban guerrillas three decades ago which makes it an offence to cover your face in public if your identity is challenged by a policeman, the BBC reports.

However, thirty years ago there were very few Muslim women immigrants in Italy, and the problems are becoming more prominent now.

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, a Vatican expert on immigration, also added that it was important to discuss with Muslims and allow them to understand the consequences of some of their religious traditions, and that they might not be positive in the societies in which they now find themselves.

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