Cardinal urges government to ‘expand sponsorship to all Ukrainian refugees’

In a letter sent on behalf of, and signed, by London Church Leaders, Cardinal Vincent Nichols has written to the government to urge ‘sponsorship criteria be expanded to include all Ukrainian refugees on humanitarian grounds, allowing them to enter the UK as quickly as possible.’

He welcomed the government’s ‘intention to establish a pathway to humanitarian sponsorship,’ emphasising ‘the urgency to act swiftly and without delay.’

As children and grandchildren of those who ‘experienced the horror of war seven decades ago’, the letter stressed the UK’s ‘moral obligation to provide protection and hospitality to those who are undergoing the same horrors today.’

Calling on the government to act quickly, the Cardinal said: ‘Times of war require swift action and flexibility, the easing of normal procedures and the removal of complex bureaucratic obstacles that can easily turn hope into despair and resignation.’

The letter was written following the meeting of London Church Leaders on 9th March at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Homily Family to pray with Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski and his people.

The text of the letter and full list of signatories:

We London Church Leaders met today at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family to pray with Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski and his people and to share our concerns at the greatest humanitarian crisis since the end of the Second World War now unfolding in Europe. We are encouraged by the government’s family sponsorship programme and welcome the intention to establish a pathway to humanitarian sponsorship.

As the number of Ukrainian citizens seeking shelter outside the borders of Ukraine is estimated to reach close to two million, we cannot but emphasise the urgency to act swiftly and without delay.

As the children and grandchildren of those who experienced the horror of war seven decades ago, it is our moral obligation to provide protection and hospitality to those who are undergoing the same horrors today, unthinkable as that may seem in the 21st century.

Just as so many British children were sent to the countryside far from harm’s way during the bombing of London, so today tens of thousands are hoping to find refuge far from Russia’s relentless, unconscionable, and indiscriminate attacks on homes, hospitals and schools throughout their homeland. Surely, we feel compassion today for Ukrainian mothers with young children, the elderly and those with disabilities, who have undertaken dangerous and arduous travel, and look to the United Kingdom with hope and are now reaching out to us in Ukraine’s greatest hour of need.

How can mothers with young children, the elderly and the disabled, who have travelled a thousand miles be expected to complete online application forms in a language foreign to them? Times of war require swift action and flexibility, the easing of normal procedures and the removal of complex bureaucratic obstacles that can easily turn hope into despair and resignation.

We would ask that sponsorship not be limited to those with family members in the UK, but that those sponsorship criteria be expanded to include all Ukrainian refugees on humanitarian grounds, allowing them to enter the UK as quickly as possible.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols
Co-Chair London Church Leaders

Those attending the meeting and sharing in this letter:

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster
Archbishop Nikitas, Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain
Bishop Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark
Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of London
Rev Phil Barnard, Team Leader London Baptist Association
Rev Dr Jongikaya Zihle, Methodist Conference
Revd George Watt, Moderator URC Thames North
Lt Colonel David Shakespeare, Salvation Army
Les Isaac OBE, President of the Ascension Trust
Andy Frost, Moderator of Free Churches Group Jesus International
Bishop Lynne Cullens, Bishop of Barking
Rev Msgr Kevin Hale, Vicar General Diocese of Brentwood
Ven Elwin Crockett, Archdeacon of West Ham
The Ven Luke Miller, Archdeacon  of London

Photo: Mazur/CBCEW.org.uk

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