ROME: The Catholic bishop of the city of Padua has called for Muslims in Italy to be given adequate burial space in cemeteries.
In a Ramadan message, Bishop Claudio Cipolla expressed his “deep sense of closeness” to the Muslim community, which is “living this important period of the spiritual year amid the hardship of the pandemic.”
He added: “Fraternally, I mourn the Muslim brothers and sisters who died this year. I am aware of the difficulties experienced by the community in finding adequate burial space in the cemeteries of our cities. I believe that concrete integration of people in Italy also comes through the experience of death.”
Only 58 of Italy’s 8,000 municipalities have dedicated spaces for Muslims in their cemeteries. Even when space is available, it is limited and often fails to meet demand, which increased dramatically in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As national and international travel was banned for months, the bodies of Muslims who died in Italy could not be transported back to where the deceased came from.
Cipolla praised the solidarity offered by Muslim communities during the pandemic, “concrete gestures that were made for those who live in hardship during the pandemic, no matter what religion they profess.”
He added that “prayer, fasting and almsgiving are a powerful antidote against selfishness,” and wished for Muslims to conclude Ramadan “with joy, in the possibility of being together in their prayer rooms.”
Bologna Archbishop Matteo Zuppi also conveyed a Ramadan message of brotherhood to Muslims in Italy.
“This pandemic we are all suffering from must increase the bonds of communion between us. We are really in the same boat,” he said.
“We all feel smaller and more fragile, and therefore we all are in need of support to encourage each other to carry on, in the light of love and solidarity.”