By Vatican News staff reporter
In view of the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan as the country falls to the Taliban, Bishops in western nations are calling on their governments to help the thousands of people fleeing the country – especially those who risked their lives to assist the military mission that began 20 years ago.
Act with utmost urgency
From the United States, Bishop Mario Dorsonville and Bishop David Malloy, chairs respectively of the USCCB’s Committees on Migration and on International Justice and Peace, issued a statement calling on the US government “to act with the utmost urgency, considering all avenues to preserve life.” They note that Catholic organizations and partners have been assisting the government in welcoming Afghan refugees and their families, and add that they “will continue to work as long as necessary until those who are in harm’s way are brought to safety.”
With Pope Francis, the statement says, the US Bishops are “praying for peace in Afghanistan – ‘that the clamor of weapons might cease and solutions can be found at the table of dialogue.’”
A disastrous defeat
In Europe, the chairman of the German Bishops Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing said he was “outraged by the widespread suffering and helplessness of those whose future is being stolen from them.”
He said, “The takeover by the Taliban in Afghanistan represents a disastrous defeat for the United States and the countries that until recently were committed to its side,” including Germany. He warned that the “life and limb of thousands and thousands of people are endangered and the flame of hope that has nourished them is extinguished” by the surrender of the country to the Taliban.
Bishop Bätzing insisted that western countries must evacuate Afghans who assisted their military forces and international aid organizations, saying “generous admission offers” should be granted, especially to those most at risk. He urged them to help countries in the region accept and care for refugees from Afghanistan, and said the European Union must be prepared to welcome refugees who arrive in Europe.
He, too, insisted on the power of prayer, and invited “everyone to join in prayer with the sufferings of the people of Afghanistan, and to call on God for His gracious help.”