EUROPE is suffering from an “epidemic of amnesia” in the face of the refugee crisis, the Suffragan Bishop in Europe, the Rt Revd David Hamid, has said. But the Anglican Church can remind the continent of its history, and rebuild “moral leadership”, as it did in the aftermath of the World Wars.
Bishop Hamid was speaking to representatives from churches across the diocese in Europe, as well as from the United States and North Africa, at a consultation held in Cologne, Germany, last week, on the refugee crisis. It was organised in partnership with Anglican mission agency USPG and the Anglican Alliance.
“The Church can act as memory: to remind the community of who we are, where we have been, and where we have come from,” he said. “One of the strengths of the Churches is that we are a flexible body, because we have no charter or mandate other than to love God and love our neighbour; so we can go where others cannot go, and fill in the gaps.”
The chief executive of USPG, Janette O’Neill, agreed with Bishop Hamid that the Church was “well-placed” in its response to the crisis, since its congregations “tend to be outward-looking, and are able to understand and relate to the struggles faced by newcomers”.
The Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, Dr Robert Innes, said that the continent was in a “very difficult” political climate, however. “Migration has hit the European Union in the wake of a deep financial crisis. Many people in Europe are suffering austerity; and a combination of serious conflict on our borders, together with austerity, has created an extremely difficult situation.”
The European Union was suffering from “a great deal of delusion” as a result, he said, and demand for right-wing parties and strong leaders was high, “which is, frankly, very dangerous. We have been there before.”
Meanwhile, the Australian Primate, the Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, criticised Australia’s migration policy in a “public conversation” held this week on the refugees being held inthe country’s off-shore detention centres. The “toxic debate” surrounding migration had “damaged Australia’s soul”, he said.