French Bishop Jacques Gaillot speaks Jan. 3 with people in solidarity with illegal immigrants workers who have been on a hunger strike for 63 days in Lille, France. Illegal immigrants who occupied the Vatican’s embassy in Paris to support the Lille str ikers have called on the Catholic Church to support their struggle for better treatment. CNS photo/Benoit Tessier, Reuters

Illegals who occupied Paris embassy ask Church backing for cause

By  Catholic News Service
  • January 3, 2013

PARIS - Illegal immigrants who occupied the Vatican's embassy in Paris have called on the Catholic Church to support their struggle for better treatment.

"We've asked moral and spiritual authorities, firstly the Vatican, to call the French government to greater humanity," the Collective Sans-Papiers, or "Illegals' Collective," said in a Jan. 2 statement.

Between 40 and 70 mostly African illegal immigrants took over the embassy Dec. 31, unfurling a banner from the window with the slogan, "Jesus defended the stranger." They were supporting a 60-day hunger-strike by illegals outside the Catholic cathedral in Lille.

The statement said the nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, had agreed to pass on the protesters' demand for a meeting with French Interior Minister Manuel Valls. However, it added that police had stormed the building after the government minister rejected the demand.

On Nov. 28, a new Interior Ministry directive said immigrants must submit pay stubs as a condition for regularizing their status.

In its statement, Collective Sans-Papiers said the November directive had imposed an "impossible condition" for most illegals and "condemned them to a desperate situation."

It added that Valls' "inhumane iron hand" had risked causing death and shown "the life of illegal immigrants has no value."


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