In a letter addressed to EU Episcopal Conferences, Cardinals Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the Commission of Bishop’s Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the Migrants & Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Konrad Krajewski, chaplain of His Holiness, ask that the refugees living on the island of Lesbos be welcomed and rehoused in other European countries.
From Vatican News
*Original version in French, in-house translation
In this letter, the three men discuss the situation of some 20,000 adults and more than 1,100 unaccompanied minors “who have been stranded, without time limits, in temporary camps and in precarious installations, in Europe, but outside of European society.”
The missive recalls Pope Francis’s appeal during the Angelus of September 6, 2015, “to parishes, religious communities, monasteries and shrines all over Europe, so that, putting concretely the Gospel into practice, they each welcome at least one refugee family.” On this occasion, the Holy Father had also asked for the support of his European bishop brothers, stressing that “mercy is love’s second name.”
“This path, fostered by the words of the Holy Father, becomes for the whole Church not only a Christian duty, but also an urgent invitation to generate new evangelical energies to welcome migrants in each of the European Union member countries,” write the cardinals. They suggest that the episcopal conferences should, in collaboration with their different governments, draw up a humanitarian corridor project from Lesbos and the other reception camps in Greece. In this regard, it should be noted that two of these cardinals—Cardinal Hollerich and Cardinal Krajewski—carried out numerous missions in the Aegean Islands, as a “sign of the Holy Father’s uninterrupted solicitude.”
Cardinals Hollerich, Krajewski and Czerny also note the successful experience of the resettlement and integration of several refugee families in the very heart of Vatican City, as well as in the Archdiocese of Luxembourg; they invite the Church in the European Union “not to remain indifferent” or passive, and to give hope to these people.
The letter is accompanied by a document—“Guidelines on the procedure for the transfer of asylum seekers and refugees from Greece to a European country”—which provides the legal basis for a continent-wide resettlement project, and offers a concrete way to achieve it. This document was prepared by the Community of Sant’Egidio and provides the Episcopal Conferences with the technical information necessary for the reception and integration of asylum seekers and refugees.