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Catholic bishops support citizenship for immigrants' kids

Church 'encourages democracy, social cohesion'

08 January, 16:11
Catholic bishops support citizenship for immigrants' kids (ANSA) - Rome, January 8 - The Catholic Church favours legislative changes that would give full citizenship rights to children born in Italy to immigrant parents, Father Giancarlo Perego said Tuesday.

Perego, director-general for migrants' issues with the influential Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), spoke at a Vatican Radio presentation ahead of Sunday's World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

The Church, he said, favours "recognition of the right of citizenship for the children of immigrants born in Italy and, consequently, the right to vote in local elections...encouraging the growth of democracy and social cohesion".

A significant percentage of Italy's residents are immigrants, he said, and migrants to the country should therefore be seen as "a significant resource".

Current Italian law dictates that only the children of Italian citizens can automatically become citizens themselves, while those born on Italian soil to non-Italian parents become eligible on their 18th birthday.

A famous example is Mario Balotelli, one of Italy's biggest soccer stars and a forward on the national team, who was born in Italy to parents from Ghana.

The president of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, has called the current system "pure folly" and a bill to change the law was submitted to the House this summer.