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Church leaders urge “safe passage” to those seeking refuge

Posted on: October 30, 2015 9:53 AM
A refugee family having recently crossed the border into Greece
Photo Credit: Marianne Ejdersten / WCC

[ACNS] The suffragan bishop in Europe, the Rt Revd Dr David Hamid, has joined other bishops and church leaders from a number of denominations in calling for safe passage to those seeking refuge.

The recommendation is one of a number contained in a communiqué issued following a church leaders’ consultation in the German city of Munich.

The church leaders recognise that “there are no quick solutions” to the crisis and they are urging political leaders to “acknowledge that persistent, consistent long-term efforts are needed” and to “refrain from any exploitation of this human crisis for political ambition or benefit.”

They say that the churches “wish to accompany our governments in seeking . . . sustainable solutions” to the crisis and urge politicians “not to let . . . fears shape their policy.

Bishop Hamid, from the Church of England, was one of 35 Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox and Roman Catholic leaders who attended the consultation, representing churches in the most affected regions from most of the church families in Europe. There were also representatives from ecumenical organizations and from church-based humanitarian and refugee organizations.

They say that the crisis may help build stronger bridges between the Christian churches in Europe. “As Churches this is an opportunity to share more widely experience and expertise in offering spiritual and pastoral support, ecumenical and interfaith cooperation and building bridges between diverse communities.”

And they urge governments to adopt a balanced approach to addressing the crisis, which tackles the root causes of the crisis as well as supporting refugee camps in neighbouring countries and also receiving refugees themselves. “We urge these to be addressed in a complementary way. As Church leaders all situations are equally important to us.”

In their call for safe passage, the leaders also ask for extra assistance to be given to “those regions which are receiving the majority of refugees, such as Greece, Italy, and other countries of transit.”

The consultation in Munich was organised by the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria and the Evangelical Church in Germany.