Catholic bishops criticise delay in bringing refugees to Ireland

Process of taking in refugees has ‘been allowed to slip to the back-burner of politics’

Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin will lead a delegation from the Irish Bishops’ Conference to Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq next November. Photograph: The Irish Times

Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin will lead a delegation from the Irish Bishops’ Conference to Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq next November. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Ireland’s Catholic bishops have criticised the delay in Ireland taking in refugees following last year’s agreement to do so.

They have expressed “concern that here in Ireland the process of taking refugees seems to have been allowed to slip to the back-burner of politics, notwithstanding the clear desire and willingness of citizens and communities to commit to a culture of welcome”.

While “praising the brave and humanitarian role of our naval service in the Mediterranean” they said that “today our witness to the distress of refugees should be a call to action”.

They asked that parishes all over Ireland “offer special prayers at Mass during June to express their support and solidarity for the plight facing child, women and men refugees”.

On a related matter the Bishops also “noted with concern the lack of significant progress regarding the condition of asylum seekers in direct provision centres in Ireland and are encouraged to lobby their politicians in the areas where the direct provision centres are situated”.

It was also announced that Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin will lead a delegation from the Irish Bishops’ Conference to Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq next November.

Hundreds of thousands of mostly Christians and Yazidis, who were forced to flee from their homes in northern Iraq as a result of war, are currently in refugee camps at Erbil.

Delegation

Archbishop Martin will also lead a delegation of 1,600 pilgrims from 16 dioceses, religious congregations and ecclesial groups from Ireland to the World Youth Day events in Krakow, Poland, from July 26th to 30th. It will be attended by Pope Francis.

On Tuesday Archbishop Eamon Martin is leading a 20km walk of peace and reconciliation in Rome involving 40 Irish pilgrims, mainly from the Armagh archdiocese, and in honour of St Oliver Plunkett. The ‘Pilgrim Walk of the Seven Churches’ began at St Peter’s Square, and involves visiting seven basilicas, including St Peter’s, St John Lateran, St Paul Outside the Walls, and St Mary Major.

“One hundred years on from the Easter Rising, we pilgrims will thank God for the huge steps that have been taken in Ireland towards peace and reconciliation,” Archbishop Martin said.

“However, with pervasive crime, gangland killings and the continued threat of paramilitary violence, with poverty and increased homelessness North and South, we recognise that much still needs to be done to create a culture of life and prosperity for all the people of Ireland,” he said.