The Italian Archdiocese of Turin is prepared to accept 42 migrants saved by the rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 in the Mediterranean Sea, “so that this serious and unjust situation can be resolved as quickly as possible”, said Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia on Monday in the cathedral of Turin, during a celebration of the Eucharist for the patron saint of the city. His announcement received applause from the believers present.

The Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini of the Northern League, has refused permission to the Sea-Watch 3 to dock in an Italian port. He called on the Netherlands to take action. The ship is from a German aid organization, but it sails under the Dutch flag.

Salvini responded the same day to the offer of the Italian archbishop and wrote on Facebook that the archdiocese can better use its money to help 43 distressed Italians. “Our ports are closed to those who do not comply with the law”, said Salvini.

Turin Catholics: Salvini’s attack on Nosiglia “seriously inappropriate”

Meanwhile, Catholics in Turin have come out in support of their archbishop, expressing their gratitude for the prelate’s recognition of the “grave and unjust suffering” to which the migrants on the Sea-Watch are being subjected.

In a joint communiqué, a dozen Catholic associations reaffirm their commitment to “concrete support and reception programs for migrants and refugees”, as well as their pledge to combat poverty “in all its forms”.

Dismissing Salvini’s attack on Archbishop Nosiglia as “seriously inappropriate”, the Turin Catholics ended their statement affirming that:

“As Christians we strongly reject a distinction between Italians and foreigners when it comes to to help people in fragile situations”.

Cardinal Montenegro: Salvini’s attitude “incomprehensible”

Another Church figure to publicly show his support for the refugees of the Sea-Watch 3 is the Archbishop of Agrigento, Cardinal Francesco Montenegro, who also criticised the Italian authorities’ handling of the situation and lamented that “Europe is so big, I don’t think so few people can plunge a continent into crisis”.

“Rules and laws should be made to respect people, but apparently we have forgotten we have human beings here in front of us”, said Montenegro, insisting that he finds Salvini’s attitude “incomprehensible”.