Archbishop calls for all-Ireland approach to aid migrants
Concept of common good in Ireland ‘gone off our national and ecclesiastical radar’
A child looks on as migrants and refugees prepare to board a train heading to Serbia from the Macedonian-Greek border near Gevgelija. Photograph: Robert Atanasovski/AFP/Getty Images
The Governments in both parts of Ireland must do more to protect the human rights of migrants, the Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin has said. “There is a pressing need for prompt strategic action that weds together a cohesive plan for welcome, integration and provision of sustainable resources for the refugees. I ask you to stress this to all political figures local, national and international,” he has said.
Last week, and within days of each other, three Church of Ireland bishops, including its two Archbishops, called for more urgent action by Governments in these islands on the migrants issue.
Last Thursday the Church of Ireland primate and Archbishop of Armagh Most Rev Richard Clarke called for action by political leaders. Last Tuesday Bishop of Derry and Raphoe Rt Rev Ken Good spoke of the frustration “at the time it’s taking Governments to devise a coherent plan to deal effectively” with the migrants issue.
The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Most Rev Michael Jackson said our response to the crisis seemed to indicate that the concept of the common good in Ireland had “gone off our national and ecclesiastical radar.”
In a special pastoral letter on Sunday Archbishop Eamon Martin said:“We are being confronted with a human tragedy that requires a generous political and church partnership to help meet the needs of these vulnerable people. We have not always handled refugees with the respect that they deserve and lessons need to be learned from the mistakes we have made in the past.”
He encouraged “parish pastoral councils to continue to liaise with other agencies and to coordinate our resources and our response.”
He said “many of you are looking at this issue as a response to the call of Pope Francis to reach out to the poor and disadvantaged and of course it is a key objective of our diocesan plan. We can garner the rich array of talents and gifts that are readily present in our communities and use them to meet the human, practical and spiritual needs of the brothers and sisters who will come to us.”
Reflecting on the just concluded synod of bishops in Rome he said some of the most moving contributions there had been “about the plight of migrant and refugee families in many parts of the world. I found myself deeply moved on several occasions as we listened to accounts of families separated, grieving and oppressed because of war and persecution in their homelands.
“An African bishop told us that massive numbers of refugees have poured into Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Malawi. Some of the poorest countries in the world such as Malawi have been inundated with people fleeing war and destruction. Malawi has been dealing with over 400,000 refugees. So far, we have been asked to take only a small fraction of that number into Ireland as a whole.”