Welsh bishops are calling on their congregations to offer prayer and practical support to refugees joining their communities.
In a joint statement, they appeal to churches to “show hospitality to strangers” and to help refugee agencies and charities welcome displaced families and individuals who have had to flee their homes with nothing.
They also call on the UK to accept its fair share of refugees and to protect those most in danger of persecution.
The statement is signed by the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan and all the Church in Wales bishops, representing every corner of Wales – the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies; the Bishop of St Asaph, Dr Gregory Cameron; the Bishop of Bangor, Andy John; the Bishop of St Davids, Wyn Evans; the Bishop of Monmouth, Richard Pain; and the Assistant Bishop of Llandaff, David Wilbourne.
Statement on the refugee crisis
As bishops of the Church in Wales, we have watched with horror and dismay the growing crisis involving refugees, and the number of deaths that have occurred of families and even young children as they flee war and persecution in the Middle East or Africa in the hope of finding a secure future in Europe.“We recognise that the situation is complex and that there is no one easy answer to this situation. We believe nonetheless that any and all responses should be characterised first by compassion and mercy; that efforts need to be redoubled to secure peace and justice in the troubled parts of the world, and that a generous but sustainable welcome must be offered to those most in need who seek a secure future among the prosperous nations of Europe.
Christians are called by God to show hospitality to strangers and to extend help to those who are vulnerable, homeless, and victims of injustice, so we now ask our congregations to join us in prayer for all displaced and persecuted minorities and refugees and also in practical action.
• Making a donation to charities, such as Christian Aid, directly involved with humanitarian work;
• Organising welcoming groups for refugees who join Welsh communities;
• Collecting and distributing essential items for refugees who arrive with nothing;
• Sign petitions for the UK to take its fair share of refugees and adequately resource initiative to help them;
• Assess if there is any available church property which could be offered to agencies as suitable shelter or accommodation for refugees.
We are grateful that Anglican congregations across Europe, alongside other churches, are offering hope and practical help to refugees, especially in Mediterranean countries. Christian Aid and others are at the forefront of life-saving action in war zones and refugee camps, whilst some church groups in Wales are already preparing to support new arrivals.
However, we also call upon the British government:
• to accept a fair share of refugees seeking sanctuary in Europe,
• to be pro-active in developing policies to protect those most in danger of religious or ethnic persecution, and
• to co-operate with the European Union and charitable agencies in co-ordinating a comprehensive shared response.
We hope as well that particular attention will be paid to the Christian minorities of the Middle East, who are often the target of the most fierce persecution, and that their distinctive needs will not be overlooked. We pray that the nations of Europe, and especially our own country, have the strength, courage and wisdom to respond generously and swiftly at this time of critical need.