The needy of today : the current refugee and humanitarian crisis in Europe – Statement by Bishop Noel Treanor

06 Sep 2015


Please find below a statement by Bishop Noel Treanor in respect of the current refugee and humanitarian crisis delivered at ‘Mater Dei’ Church, Crumlin this morning. 

The needy of today : the current refugee and humanitarian crisis in Europe

In the light of Christ’s care for the needy and in the tradition of Christian charitable intervention in support of the poor and homeless, we say to our political leaders that our countries must put in place an adequate humanitarian response for those who have reached our European shores and borders.  Our countries cannot handle this refugee and migrant crisis alone, in isolation from Europe. A common and shared European response, grounded in generosity by our national governments and in agreed solidarity with fellow EU member states is needed urgently. We pray that courage and generosity will prevail at the meeting of EU ministers of the interior on Monday week next, September 14th .

Our political leaders depend however on an unequivocal civic generosity on the part of each one of us as citizens. This is where the gospel challenges each one of us as Christians who are citizens and as citizens who are Christians.  This moment in our national and European history, germinating with so much loss of life, human trafficking, destruction of families, suffering, hunger, tragedy and loss of all kinds, demands that as individual persons and as a state and society, we do not surrender to what Pope Francis referred to as “the globalisation of indifference” (Lampedusa 2013/ World Peace Day Message, 2015, No.6.4.).

And when, as we hope, governments will permit generous reception in our country, the initial wave of good will and care will need to be followed by sustained programmes and civic initiatives designed to integrate these new neighbours.

As a society we shall need to grow, develop and inculcate positive and supportive attitudes of care and support for the newly arrived neighbour and offer them opportunities to build a new life.  As Christians with all fellow Christians, with all women and men of religious faith and values, and with all citizens of goodwill, we shall have to continue working at eradicating and overcoming any vestiges of sectarianism in our society and body politic which so easily change into hate crimes or speech against persons from cultures or backgrounds other than our own. Our already multi-cultural society is destined to become more diversified ethnically, culturally and religiously and that is always a joy-filled challenge for the Christian.

In needy and suffering humanity the face of Christ is always to be found. Let us pray today, as we have listened to this passage from the gospel according to St Mark, that the Europe of which we are part and which has been shaped in great part by the Judaeo-Christian tradition, will devise ways of responding with generosity to this humanitarian crisis and also of addressing ever more decisively their root causes.

  • +Noel Treanor is Bishop of Down and Connor