Thinking Anglicans

Church leaders comment on the refugee crisis

Updated again Tuesday morning

There have been a few statements about the refugee crisis from Church of England bishops:

The Archbishop of Canterbury Archbishop of Canterbury on the refugee crisis

The Bishop of Ely Bishop of Ely statement on Syrian refugee crisis

The Bishop of Leeds Refugee crisis in Europe

The bishops of the Chelmsford diocese Churches pledge to welcome refugees in partnership with communities

The Bishop of Manchester A prayer for the refugee crisis
(Bishop Walker wrote about this topic for the Guardian back in April: Bishop of Manchester: I want leaders who look on migrants with compassion.)

The Dean of York: Refugee crisis: statement from the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, the Dean of York

The bishops of West Yorkshire and The Dales The refugee crisis – a message from our Bishops

The Archbishop of York Seeking Sanctuary

There is a list of other not-so-recent responses here.

And also this list from around the Anglican Communion.

The Bishops of the Church in Wales have issued this joint statement: Bishops call on churches to help refugees

Please do let us know, via the comments, of any other statements.

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Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Here are two more articles regarding the refugee crisis. The first one pertains to a statement signed by Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and Adele Finney, executive director of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), the church’s relief and development arm. http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/church-calls-for-urgent-action-to-address-refugee-crisis The second is an October editorial for the Anglican Journal available on line now. It’s a pretty straight talking piece. http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/the-inescapable-responsibility Canada’s Conservative government is somewhat philosophically aligned with the U.K. Cameron government on this issues. However, The Harper government in Canada has been responding to the crisis with election talking… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

We live in a time of change. I’m not immune to feelings of nostalgia and elegy for this country as it was before mass immigration. That said, although it seemed on the face a felicitous and organic society that had evolved over a thousand years, I myself was brought up with privileges, was external to LGBT consciousness or awareness, belonged to a family that could enjoy the way of life, not to a family with grinding poverty. It was (as it remains) a stratified society. The refugee crisis brings into head-on collision the immediate human need for compassion and (frankly)… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

In a Facebook thread Alan Wilson commented: “We started a war in the Middle East, radicalised Iraq (which was a largely secular state), caused a flood of refugees out into a simmering war zone, with the effect of destroying various vulnerable minorities, including Yazidis and some ancient Christian communities. This argument suggests that the responsibility for picking up the pieces rests solely with Turkey. What?! Meanwhile the Germans, who had the good sense to stay out of Bush Wars and counselled everyone else to do so, take ten times as many refugees as we do. In the short term this… Read more »

Simon W
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Simon W

NZ Anglican and Catholic Church leaders urge PM John Key to increase NZ’s refugee quota immediately: http://anglicantaonga.org.nz/News/Common-Life/Church-leaders-plead-for-refugees

Feria
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Feria

Well said, the various bishops (and one dean) cited above.

Given the quarter from which we seem to be seeing the greatest progress towards the ‘language of welcome not suspicion’ for which +Ely calls, I wonder what are the prospects for us negotiating a communion agreement with the EKD, along similar lines to Porvoo?

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker
robert ian williams
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robert ian williams

I think the prime minister is right to be circumspect.The action of German government is disgraceful and will send out wrong signals. It will lead to benefits for the unscrupulous people movers. The Germans are facing a population decline, which only massive immigration can ameliorate and there is more to their generosity that meets the eye.

John
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John

Glad the C of E establishment is at last facing up to this. Interesting to note how far the Bishop of Manchester was ahead of the curve. Characteristically thoughtful contribution from Susannah. ‘Inescapable responsibility’ is a very good phrase and concept. In St Margaret’s Durham at this morning’s Eucharist Paul Regan delivered brilliant sermon on the theme, bouncing off the reading from James and the Gospel reading on Jesus and the Syro (=Syrian)-Phoenician woman and concluding: ‘if Jesus could learn, so can we’.

Mary Clara
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Mary Clara

John, across the water here in Maryland, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Baltimore, we heard very much the same sermon from our retired diocesan bishop, the Rt. Rev. Robert Ihloff. This week’s lectionary could hardly have been more on target! Not from a bishop, but a powerful message from Giles Fraser in the Guardian the other day: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2015/sep/04/christian-politicians-wont-say-it-but-the-bible-is-clear-let-the-refugees-in-every-last-one . I am much moved by the reports of efforts being made by ordinary citizens in the U.K. and across Europe to welcome and aid the refugees and to shame or pressure their governments into acting. Hope we can stir… Read more »

John
Guest
John

Thank you, Mary Clara.

James Byron
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James Byron

Reports of the migration crisis too readily blur the line between immigration and asylum. It’s a crucial distinction: immigration’s a privilege; asylum’s a right. Asylum is granted to save people from persecution, not for economic reasons, yet a great many of the migrants are crossing multiple safe counties in order to reach more favorable destinations. At that point, even if they began as refugees, they’ve become illegal immigrants. Every country has the right to admit immigrants on terms that benefit its existing population, say by awarding points for education, skills, exceptional achievement in the arts, and so on. Refugee status… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

James, the difficulty we’re discovering is that the system of requiring asylum seekers to apply for asylum in the first country they reach is manifestly unfair and not practical in a major refugee crisis. We cannot have tens of thousands of people overwhelm the ability of the Greek islands to process them, while closing our eyes just because our richer EU countries benefit from the geographic accident of not being close by. This crisis shows that our system is no longer working effectively. If the concept of the EU means anything, it has to mean that we adapt to new… Read more »

Feria
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Feria

James,

You didn’t name the “multiple safe countries” of which you speak. I have a sneaking suspicion that, if you did, it would reveal a pretty loose definition of the word “safe”.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Feria, to name a few: Greece, Italy, Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. All EU members, all established liberal democracies, all bypassed en route to Germany. An argument could certainly be made to include Turkey. Erika, the issue is less allocating refugees around Europe — I agree it’d be unfair to put the burden on Greece and Hungary — than it is a sizable number of the migrants just not fitting the definition of refugee outlined in the 1951 convention. This is no technicality, it’s substantive. My heart breaks to see people so desperate, but that does nothing to help… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

The reality is that the governments of the Anglo-sphere countries, including the Cameron government in the U.K. the Harper government in Canada, joined perhaps by the government in France, are manipulating the migrant crisis in terms of a long game for leveraging increased militarism in the middle east.

The perverse irony is that Cameron, Harper and their ilk, just maybe, will use the refugee crisis as a vehicle for getting boots on the ground. Assuming of course that special forces from all these countries are likely already there.

Julia Redfern
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Julia Redfern
Feria
Guest
Feria

James, I just had a quick flick through the relevant country reports from the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, paying particular attention to the sections on racist violence, and police and judicial responses to it. In the light of what I’ve read there, if I were a Muslim (or Jewish or Roma) refugee, I would be _very_ disinclined to regard Austria, Hungary or the Czech Republic as a “safe country”. And I think I have a good idea what the average Kurd would make of any argument that Turkey is a “safe country”. I also invite you to agree… Read more »

robert ian williams
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robert ian williams

Apparently the refugees include many Palestinians fleeing the occupied west bank. Notice how the Chief Rabbi spoke out about the humanitarian need to help the refugees. Surely that is significant as he was silent throughout the Gaza Israeli counter attack. Germany has made herself a magnet , with no consideration for other other European nations like Hungary , Macedonia or Serbia. Why is no one is critical of the Turks for turning a blind eye to the smugglers operating in Eastern Turkey. I was pleased with the prime ministers numbers.. I feel he got it about right. We will be… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

James,
to an extent, laws are reactive. They are made in response to certain situation.
The current law is not capable of dealing successfully with the appalling situation in Syria (that is part of our own making!).

It is right that compassion overrides legalism and that these people are processed properly in a safe place where they can be looked after in a humane way.

Parliament around the world can then sit down and debate the implications this should have for their respective laws.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

James,
I would say there’s the same tension between enacting the law and enacting the spirit of the law. We know so well from the stories of our own faith.
We know which side we’re called to be on.

JCF
Guest
JCF

Trying to discern the difference between a migrant and a refugee (having compassion for the former as well as the latter) is really the crux of the matter. We really need the Wisdom of Solomon . . . as well as the Heart of Jesus.

In my idealism, part of me really thinks “they’re just lines on a map—an abstraction—and shouldn’t carry the (often violent) weight of ‘borders'”.

But we can’t have EVERY person who wants better than they currently have, going to ‘region x’ on the globe, either. It’s a very sticky wicket. God, grant us More Light!

Hannah
Guest
Hannah

Further to Feria’s comment @12.28, I would observe the following: earlier this summer our media was dominated by the economic crisis in Greece. Greece is, for many of these refugees/migrants, the inevitable first point of entry to the EU. They simply cannot support the number of people arriving on their shores. That isn’t an argument in favour of any particular government’s policy; it is simply a statement of fact. If the EU wants people to be registered and supported in Greece, the EU collectively is going to have to take responsibility for that one way or another.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ JFC, “God, grant us More Light!” It ain’t more prayin that is needed. It’s less mud thrown in the waters by right wing governments.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

I am sure that we have all seen the pictures of towns and cities devastated by the wars in Syria. The contrast with what was there before is heart breaking. No wonder those who flee do so in despair. How on earth are they going to rebuild? The recovery of European cities from the bombing of WW2 took a generation. And that couldn’t start until the fighting stopped and there was massive aid from the US. (of course the USSR dominated east was another matter) But where to flee to? The choice seems to be either a refugee camp in… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Feria, Germany’s Turkish population have also experienced discrimination and violence, is Germany not then a safe country; Paris is ringed by the banlieues, in which an Algerian minority endure discrimination and violence, is France then an unsafe country? Safe country is not a synonym for perfect country: you’ve raised the bar far higher than any refugee treaty. Erika, legalism is blind adherence to the law, however misguided or ineffective; nither judgment applies to the 1951 Convention. I’ve agreed that it’s reasonable to show flexibility in allocating refugees, but to do so, claims must be genuine, and registered at the first… Read more »

Peter Owen
Guest

The Bishop of Warrington issued this statement.

http://www.liverpool.anglican.org/Bishop-of-Warrington-refugee-crisis

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

Heard an interesting account by a Syrian on Welsh radio, who claims that his country is being emptied of people. Meanwhile Chancellor Merkel says Germany can take 500,000 asylum seekers for several years yet. This shows that her motives are ulterior and linked to selfish German economic concerns.Contraception/ abortion has killed Europe and now immigration will change it forever.

Feria
Guest
Feria

James,

The bar in the refugee treaties _is_ high enough to detect that even some EU member states are not always “safe countries” for everyone. That’s why, in 2013 (the last year for which data are available), the United States granted asylum to at least 64 nationals of EU member states (mostly Romanians, along with a handful of Bulgarians, Latvians, Greeks and Estonians). (And as the US criminal justice system is not ECHR-compliant, I’m guessing that the converse also applies, i.e. EU countries probably granted asylum to a few Americans.)

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Feria, given that any one of those 64 nationals could’ve moved to another EU state, no-questions-asked, I’m dubious about the asylum claims. If they’re genuine, refugees who refuse to register in the first EU country they enter would have to be motivated by a fear of persecution, not a desire to reach Europe’s largest economy. In the alternative, given that a federal judge gave asylum to the Romeike family on the grounds that they wanted to homeschool their children (initially overturned on appeal, only for deportation to be halted at the eleventh hour by Washington), anything that applies to those… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Robert Ian Williams: Germany’s generous response to the refugee crisis based on a declining population caused by contraception and abortion seems to be the party line of a particularly nasty strain of conservative Roman Catholicism. I read it on Fr Ray Blake’s blog. Where did you find it?

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

By 2060, Germany’s population of 81 million is projected to fall to 71 million, while the UK, a vastly smaller land mass, will overtake it to become the most populous EU nation, rising from its current 64 million to 80 million.

The dependency ratio in Germany — the ratio of pensioners to working-age people whose taxes support them — is set to rise to 59%. That means the taxes of roughly more than one working German will have to support 2 retired Germans.

Read more: http://uk.businessinsider.com/refugee-crisis-uk-vs-german-demographics-2015-9#ixzz3lKhmJU2P

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

I don’t see any correlation between this demographic effect and your purported cause.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

In the meantime – Comrade Putin is supplying arms and logistical help to President Assad. How will this help the crisis in the Middle East?