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13 November 2015

Christians' response to the invasion of Europe: Open the borders


Pope Francis last Sunday issued a surprise appeal for every Catholic parish and community in Europe to take in a refugee family. His call came at the end of a remarkable week, in which Europe’s immigration policy collapsed under the weight of the biggest mass influx of refugees since the Second World War.

The two main Christian leaders in Britain — Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Winchester and Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby — added to the pressure on Cameron in calling for an urgent and compassionate response, and a coordinated Europeans agreement for sharing the burden.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that the “breathtaking” flow of migrants into Germany will “occupy and change” the country in the next years.

The crisis has pushed the Catholic Church to the front lines as a consistent advocate of a generous and compassionate response by both states and communities.

The notion that Christianity would be threatened or diluted by a large influx of Muslim refugees has not been heard from European church leaders. The prevailing sentiment in the Church so far is that Europe cannot be Christian if it turns its back on strangers in desperate need.

Even in Hungary, Archabbot Asztrik Várszegi, head of one of the country’s oldest landmarks, the Benedictine Archabbey in Pannonhalmahas, has ordered that any refugees arriving to the Benedictine monastery must be taken in and cared for.

He said, “We cannot leave anyone outside, because doing so would contradict the Gospel.”