Christian organizations representing nearly 2 billion people, representing around a quarter of humanity, have united in a call for more compassion in dealing with the dire situation of migrants and refugees in Europe.
“Solidarity should be the guiding principle governing migration and particularly refugee reception,” they said in a statement delivered to top European Union officials.
“We expect the European Union to reject the discourse and politics of fear and deterrence, and to adopt a principled stance and compassionate practice based on the fundamental values on which the EU is founded.”
The European Commission offices in Brussels received the ecumenical advocacy statement responding to the new EU Migrant Pact affecting migrants and refugees in Europe on Sept. 25.
Earlier in the week the UN Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration said that recent events in the Mediterranean have shown that the current system for refugees and migrants in the EU is unworkable and often carries devastating human consequences.
The two agencies issued a statement calling for a “truly common and principled approach” to European migration and asylum policies, asking for the same approach as the church organizations.
“The current approach in the EU is unworkable, untenable, and often carries devastating human consequences,” they said.
Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said, “The Pact presents the opportunity for Europe to show that it can uphold the fundamental right to asylum, while cooperating on pragmatic policies to identify those in need of international protection and share responsibility for them.
“We will welcome genuine efforts to ensure a fast, fair and effective protection regime in Europe, and pledge our full support and expertise to the European Commission and Member States in making it a reality.
WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
World Council of Churches interim general secretary Fr. Ioan Sauca. “Every nation’s asylum policies must reflect this sense of caring and trust as a shared journey, a solemn responsibility and a common witness.”
“Our organizations represent churches throughout Europe and globally, as well as church-based agencies particularly concerned with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers,” said the statement.
“As Christian organizations we are deeply committed to the inviolable dignity of the human person created in the image of God, as well as to the concepts of the common good, global solidarity and the promotion of a society that welcomes strangers, cares for those fleeing danger, and protects the vulnerable.”
The statement refers to the recent fire at the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, which left 13,000 migrants without a home.
Some 9,400 asylum seekers left homeless by the fire are now residing in a new government-run site, which was set, said UNHCR.
Jørgen Skov Sørensen, general secretary of the Conference of European Churches, and Dr Torsten Moritz, general secretary of the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, delivered the statement to the EC.
“Our member churches, among other European faith traditions, remain committed to a transparent dialogue with the European Commission and the co-legislators, the council and the parliament in the context of Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty,” he said.
“Churches also remain committed to building bridges between different opinions on migration, and certainly between refugees, migrants and Europeans.
“We believe that churches have a fundamental role in facilitating and contributing to the intercultural and interreligious encounters in Europe in order to strengthen efforts for coherent, just and peaceful societies.”
The statement handed in Brussels was co-signed by the ACT Alliance, the Anglican Communion, the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, the Conference of European Churches, the European Region of the World Association for Christian Communication, the Evangelical Church of Greece, the Integration Center for Migrant Workers – Ecumenical Refugee Program, Non Profit Organisation of the Church of Greece, the Lutheran World Federation, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity , the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the World Communion of Reformed Churches (European Region), the World Council of Churches and the World Methodist Council.