By Vatican News
Three leading Cardinals have called for European Episcopal Conferences to help relocate refugees stuck in Lesbos and other reception camps in Greece.
In a letter addressed to the presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) highlights Pope Francis' concern for the more than 20,000 adults and over 1,100 unaccompanied minors living in precarious and overcrowded structures “in Europe, but outside of the European society”. The letter is also signed by Cardinals Michael Czerny, SJ, Undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development; and Konrad Krajewski, the Almoner of His Holiness.
The letter begins by recalling the Angelus of September 6, 2015, when Pope Francis made an appeal “to parishes, religious communities, monasteries and shrines throughout Europe, that they express the Gospel in a concrete way and host a refugee family”. At that time, the Holy Father also urged the support of all the European bishops for his appeal, recalling that “Mercy is the second name of Love”.
“Encouraged by the Holy Father’s words, this path has become – as well as a Christian duty – a heartfelt invitation for the whole Church to awaken new, evangelical energies of welcome in each of the member countries of the European Union”, the Cardinals write. They suggest that the Bishops’ Conferences should “agree on a project for a humanitarian corridor from Lesbos and other first reception camps in Greece, in collaboration with their individual governments”.
They note the successful experience with the relocation and integration of refugee families in Vatican City and in the Archdiocese of Luxembourg, and invite the Church in European Union “not to remain indifferent” and to give back hope to these persons.
The letter is accompanied by the 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 project of relocation, and proposes a concrete manner to make it a reality. This document was prepared by the Community of Sant’Egidio and provides Bishops’ Conferences with technical information necessary to receive and integrate these persons and families.