We call on the nations and the people of Europe, on the political leaders and on our Churches:
Don’t allow us to become indifferent to the suffering of others.
Let us rather cherish the dignity of those who need our help and recognise that welcoming the
stranger is part of our Christian and European heritage.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees states: “No one becomes a refugee by choice; but the
rest of us can have a choice about how we help.” As Christians we are guided by biblical teaching
and our following of Christ. In this season of preparation for Christmas we are reminded of our
responsibility, along with God’s promise of light and life for this world.
Jesus became human: Christmas is the celebration of Jesus incarnate. For Christians the
Incarnation is an expression of God’s unlimited love for humanity, the babe born in a manger was
to be good news of joy for all people (Luke 2.10). Just as every person is created in the image of
God (Genesis 1.27), so Jesus becoming human affirms the dignity of all people. No individual or
group of people are ‘problems’ to be dealt with but they are deserving of dignity as people loved
by God. We all share a common humanity devoid of distinction between strangers and
Jesus the refugee: He took refuge in Egypt as a child when Mary and Joseph fled Herod’s threat
to kill him. Jesus also experienced life under Roman occupation so knew measures that deprived
people of their freedom and trampled upon their dignity. Jesus is born homeless and experiences
tyranny and suffering. He identifies with the refugee and the oppressed and calls on us to similarly
identify compassionately with the vulnerable.
Jesus the stranger: Jesus tells us that our response to the stranger is a response to Jesus himself
(Matthew 25.40). When recognising Christ in the stranger’s guise we begin to encounter the
divine in the other. Not only do we then move from a situation of ‘us’ and ‘them’ to a new
relationship of ‘we’, there is blessing in the encounter and we become human together.
It is unacceptable that policies of “managing migration” lead to situations where the
massive loss of human life on the way to Europe has become normal and exploitation and
violence an everyday reality. We need meaningful safe passages (e.g. resettlement,
humanitarian visa, realistic labour migration policies) and search and rescue on the way
We reaffirm the notions of the Tampere summit, in particular the “absolute respect of the
right to seek asylum” and “the full and inclusive application of the Geneva Convention” as
guiding principles of asylum policy today. This would include effective access to a
procedure for asylum seeking persons irrespective of how and through where they came
Protection in the region of origin and improvement of conditions in countries of origin
remain important, so that people are not forced to move. However, as long as reasons for
migration exist, Europe should accept its obligation to welcome and protect - as one of the
richest and most developed regions of the globe; instead of coercing third countries into
stopping migration into Europe.
Solidarity should be the guiding aspect when governing migration and particularly
refugee reception. Solidarity means that the stronger shoulders accept more
responsibility than the weaker ones, but also that everyone contributes what they can.
We renounce the notion that a welcome to newly arrived is at the detriment of those
presently living in Europe. Policies should address the specific needs of new arrivals in
Europe and encourage their potential to contribute, while at the same time honouring the
traditions and needs of inhabitants alike.
Discussions on migration and refugees should be characterised by dignity, respect, and
where possible compassion. Spreading of inaccurate, unverifiable and divisive messages
only makes the challenge of living together more difficult.
Conflicts will inevitably arise where people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds
are living together, particularly under rapidly changing circumstances. Living together in
diversity can be both enriching and challenging. We ask for a spirit of tolerance and
goodwill and a commitment to constructive engagement
Source: http://www.ccme.be/fileadmin/filer/ccme ... -FINAL.pdf
http://www.ccme.be/fileadmin/filer/ccme ... tement.pdf