Bishop Paul McAleenan, our Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees, spoke at an event on Wednesday, 24 May, organised by London Churches Refugee Fund, saying that welcoming refugees and migrants is a duty for Christians. Bishop McAleenan said:
“Going to the aid of migrants, refugees, displaced people and asylum seekers is not simply almsgiving or an act of kindness but an act of justice. Our solidarity with them comes from the basic belief that we have a duty to share common resources.
“For the Christian, supporting refugees and asylum seekers is not a hobby or a niche interest.”
Bishop McAleenan, who has been critical of the government’s Illegal Migration Bill, added:
“The purpose of the law is to uphold justice and mercy. When the effect of law compounds trauma and increases the suffering, justice and mercy are not being served.
“The theological approach keeps the human issue at the centre… It is always human dignity that takes priority, not what some choose to call ‘The National Interest’.”
The event took place at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Mount Street, in central London and was attended by the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool John Perumbalath, who also serves as Chair of the Churches Refugee Network, with music by the Citizens of the World Choir.
Bishop McAleenan went on to reiterate that Catholic support for migrants and refugees is rooted in the inherent dignity of each individual:
“Our appeal for refugees and asylum seekers to be welcomed and respected is based on the fundamental principles of the dignity of every person, created in the image and likeness of God.
“Irrespective of their legal status, human dignity must be upheld, protected and nurtured. Structures for refugees and asylum seekers need to be created.
“Drawing on these principles and remembering the experiences of asylum seekers, we need an asylum system which is designed for the welfare of refugees and not for their harm.”
He added: “Jesus himself was a refugee who, along with Mary and Joseph, fled the terror of Herod into Egypt.”
You can read or download Bishop McAleenan’s talk in full.