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World News

'Open our doors to those in need' - European churches support Pope's plea to help refugees

by Donna Birrell

Churches across Europe have responded to an appeal by the Pope to safeguard the dignity and human rights of refugees arriving in Europe. Speaking earlier this week Pope Francis appealed to European leaders and authorities to find solutions to the crisis.  

The President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, issued a statement asking EU authorities “to allow refugees who are stranded in the territories of first reception, as in the case of Cyprus and Greece, to be relocated to other EU nations, ensuring them the protection and promotion they need”.

Vatican News says Slovenian bishops have also written to accept the challenge.

“Countries and citizens are called to solidarity with those who knock on our doors seeking a better future.

"Hospitality and welcoming the foreigner have long been a sign of love and respect for the dignity of every human being.”

Bishops in France, Spain and Germany are also urging their countries' political leaders to show 'solidarity and humanity' to those seeking asylum.  

In its response to the Pope's call, the Jesuit Refugee Service said: "We think that deep within us resides the ability to open our doors to our neighbours: as human beings, we are driven to welcome the stranger and build new relationships. Our communities of hospitality are spread throughout Europe as authentic spaces of encounter and constitute an invitation to be witnesses of hope. We all win when humanity becomes hospitality, because then hospitality becomes humanity."

Last week 160 asylum-seekers drowned in two separate incidents off the coast of Libya. In November, 27 people died when their boar capsized in the English Channel en route to the UK from France. 

There are currently an estimated 2,000 refugees living along the northern French coast around Calais, according to local non-governmental organisations.

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