THE Roman Catholic Church has expressed a desire to house refugees during the growing crisis in Europe, and has implored others to do the same.
Pope Francis announced in his Sunday address that he will be opening the Vatican to two refugee families fleeing war and persecution. Speaking to crowds of pilgrims in St Peter’s Square on Sunday morning, the Pope said: “I appeal to the parishes, the religious communities, the monasteries and sanctuaries of all Europe, to show the true meaning of the gospel and take in one family of refugees.”
The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, responded to the Pope’s address in a statement on Monday, urging the Government to “respond positively” to the crisis.
An RC bishop in Northern Ireland has also called on political leaders and Christians to offer a “generous reception” for refugees, and invited Roman Catholics to respond with “prayer and in real, practical action”.
The RC Bishop of Down & Connor, the Most Revd Noel Treanor, addressed the refugee crisis at Sunday mass. He said: “Our countries must put in place an adequate humanitarian response for those who have reached our European shores and borders.”
In New Zealand, the Archbishop, the Most Revd Philip Richardson, joined his RC counterpart, Cardinal John Dew, to call on the government to double its annual refugee cap.
New Zealand has capped the number of refugees it will receive at 750 each year since 1987. Archbishop Richardson and Cardinal Dew said that there was a need for “an urgent collective response”, and called for the number to increase.
“The response is government-led, and can involve communities and churches working together,” they said in a statement.
In Australia, the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, urged the government to bring forward a “comprehensive response” to the crisis. “One of the most significant characteristics of a civilised society is the way it treats those who are the most vulnerable,” he said.
“In our own country we have sought to address the needs of children, the intellectually or physically disabled, and the aged, all of whom suffer a disadvantage that is not common to the ordinary working Australian. “However, as our world is larger than Australia, so our vision for vulnerable persons ought to be larger. . . The crisis is too great to be ignored — too great, even, for Europe to solve on its own.”
'A time for generosity'
THE Anglican Church of Australia has called on the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees to come to Australia before Christmas.
The chairman of the General Synod Working Group on Refugees and Asylum Seekers, the Rt Revd Philip Huggins, has assured the government that the Church will help to resettle the refugees.
“You know that our churches would want to co-operate with our government to facilitate the settlement of these refugees as best we are able,” Bishop Huggins said. “The focus of Christmas would also provide an opportunity for exceptional generosity.”
The call comes as the federal government is under growing pressure to increase its overall humanitarian intake so that any increase in Syrian refugee numbers does not displace refugees from other conflict zones.
Although parliamentarians from all sides and some state premiers have joined Churches, agencies, and individuals in urging an increase, however, the Mr Abbott has not so far committed to increasing overall refugee numbers.
Meanwhile, the Australian Primate, the Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, has warned that Australia would face a “heightened risk of violence inside its own borders” if it extended military action into Syria. The Australian government is considering a request from the United States to do so.
It was important that Australians considered the consequences of being involved in a “hot” war, he said.