The Lead Catholic Bishop for Migration Issues has added his voice to the clamour over the government’s determination to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda.
After a flurry of last minute High Court hearings yesterday and today, up to eight people are due to be shipped out on a flight tonight from RAF Boscombe Down in Wiltshire.
Bishop Paul McAleenan said today that the UK’s forced deportation plans: “is shamefully illustrative of what Pope Francis has called the ‘loss of that sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters on which every civil society is based’.
“The plan is presented as a humanitarian response to combat people trafficking and smuggling yet the result will compound the suffering of those who are already victims. Crime is defeated by confronting the perpetrators not by punishing victims. This scheme will increase the difficulties of those hoping for a new beginning, and it does nothing to address the problems which cause people to flee their homes,” the bishop said.
His comments echo a formal resolution on migration approved recently in Cardiff by the Plenary Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales.
- Those seeking refuge in the UK should be provided with safe routes for travelling, have the opportunity to tell their story, be listened to and have their cases assessed justly. We keep in mind that there is no illegal asylum seeker; to claim asylum is a human right.
- People smugglers and modern-day human traffickers profit from the desperation and misery of refugees. We fully support their prosecution. It is imperative however to make a clear distinction between victims and those who exploit them. Crime is defeated by confronting the perpetrators not by punishing the victims.
Bishop McAleenan acknowledged in his remarks today that migration is a complex issue, but he said it was not resolved by delegating our roles and responsibilities to other countries.
“Our starting point should be the innate dignity of every person, created in the image and likeness of God. Our Christian faith demands that we respond generously to asylum seekers whose dignity must be protected and upheld.
“Whether or not the flight to Rwanda takes off today we are now in a new situation,” said Bishop McAleenan.
“With greater force we insist that asylum seekers are not commodities for profit, nor are they problems to be rejected and deported by government. Instead we should be guided by the four verbs provided by Pope Francis in our approach to migrants and refugees, ‘Welcome, protect, promote and integrate’.”
Story by Joseph Kelly of www.thecatholicnetwork.co.uk
pic: Marcin Mazur www.cbcew.org.uk