The recent statements by the Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, on the need to “census” the Roma present in Italy, accompanied by regret at the impossibility of expelling those of Italian nationality, arouse not only astonishment but also concern and challenge us, as citizens and as Catholic associations who live the reality of ordinary people every day, to adopt a position that we believe necessary.

The choice to use such arguments to find political consensus seems even more serious because it is carried out in the Italian context, which has recently been fuelled by fears, threats of alleged invasions, resentment and anger against "the other". It is an approach that recalls the ghosts of a past that we thought far away, and that instead in our country, as in the rest of Europe, reappears with the face of new sovereignties. There is a risk of passing on the idea, unacceptable because it is false, that belonging to a culture automatically means behaving outside the law and therefore finding no place in our social fabric.

Building a policy for Italy by choosing the convenient strategy of continually identifying "enemies" against whom to oppose, be they migrants, stepmother Europe and now the Roma, perhaps demonstrates a skill in tactics, but unfortunately reveals intellectual and political poverty that we fear will have to be paid in the future by the country.

Translated from Italian original by Philippe Ledouble.