A migrant crawls along a Spanish beach in front of holidaymakers
The most senior Catholic in England and Wales has urged the UK to be more “generous” in the way it deals with the current refugee crisis in Europe. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, speaking to ITV News said that the British public had told him “it was a disgrace that we were letting people die and seeing bodies on the beaches when together Europe is such a wealthy place.”
The Cardinal continued: "It's people who are desperate for the sake of their families, their elderly, their youngsters, their children, and the more we see that the more the opportunity for a political response that's a bit more generous is growing. What is screaming out is the human tragedy of this problem."
The Cardinal’s comments are most welcome and I completely agree with him that our response to this must be more generous. We are, in many respects, a wealthy country, and we are blessed by not having to cope with the fear of wars and widespread violence.
Our parish was blessed recently with the presence of a Nigerian priest who covered our parish while our own priest was on pilgrimage and on holiday. I recall that in one of his homilies he spoke about the great joy he and his people would feel when they woke up in the morning, simply because they were still alive. Their country is beset by violent clashes and the threat of Boko Haram is an ongoing fear for all, especially Christians.
In Syria and in North Africa there is the threat of ISIS who are persecuting Christians and driving people from their homes. And now, in Europe, we are starting to see the sad consequences of these wars as people arrive on our shores desperate for safety and to give their children a chance. And this, I feel, is the nub of it. Can we really deny people a place of safety? Can we really deny little children a chance to live?
The horrific reality of this crisis
Our own resources are finite and we must try to ensure our country remains financially stable. We get this. But greater than this, much greater than this, is our call to love our neighbour. Our brothers and sisters are in dire need of our comfort and love. They beg us to give them a place of safety. They are on their knees, in the frozen waters of our shores, desperately pleading to each and every one of us to give them even just a little of what we have.
I sincerely hope the words of Cardinal Nichols will be heard and taken seriously by our governors (both in the UK and across all of Europe) and indeed by each one of us. I hope we all find it in our hearts to be more generous and to give more people a chance. We have the power and we have the resources. Now all we need is the will.
Here are four ways we can help:
Please email your MP about this, encouraging our governors to be more ‘generous’ to those in need. You can find your MPs details by clicking this link and entering your postcode: http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/contacting-your-mp/
Consider signing the petition at the Refugee Action website here: http://www.refugee-action.org.uk/support_us/campaign/join_a_campaign/1542_lets_give_refugees_another_way_to_safety
Donate to Refugee Action and give a refugee an emergency care parcel, click here: http://www.refugee-action.org.uk/support_us/give
And of course, pray. Please pray for all refugees, perhaps by saying one Hail Mary and asking Our Blessed Mother to intercede with the Father on their behalf.