To mark the United Nations World Refugee Day, 20 June 2016, and the Feast of the Irish Martyrs, the Catholic Communications Office issued a press release on behalf of the Irish Catholic Bishop’s Conference.
Refugees and migrants
At their annual June meeting, the Irish bishops discussed the refugee crisis and the need for policymakers not to close their eyes to the needs of our brothers and sisters currently in dire need in Europe and further afield. The numbers of those who are fleeing from war and persecution, the bishops stated, are on the increase and the level of solidarity is often inadequate. They reflected on Amoris Laetitia:
“Migration is particularly dramatic and devastating to families and individuals when it takes place illegally and is supported by international networks of human trafficking. This is equally true when it involves women or unaccompanied children who are forced to endure long periods of time in temporary facilities and refugee camps, where it is impossible to start a process of integration. Extreme poverty and other situations of family breakdown sometimes even lead families to sell their children for prostitution or for organ trafficking” (AL para 46).
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, which Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, described as being almost the ‘national anthem’ of this Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, two figures of officialdom turn their eyes away and pass by the presence of a fellow human in distress. Today our witness to the distress of refugees should be a call to action. While praising the brave and humanitarian role of our naval service in the Mediterranean – which again has been exemplified this month – the bishops 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. The bishops ask that parishes offer special prayers at Mass during June to express their support and solidarity for the plight facing child, women and men refugees.
The bishops also noted with concern the lack of significant progress regarding the condition of asylum seekers in direct provision centres and are encouraged to lobby their politicians in the areas where centres are situated.
Prayer for Migrants and Refugees
Almighty and merciful God,
whose Son became a refugee
and had no place to call his own;
Look with mercy on those who today
are fleeing from danger, Homeless and hungry.
Bless those who work to bring them relief;
Inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts;
and guide the nations of Europe towards that day
when all will rejoice in your Kingdom of justice and peace.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.