Christian duty to refugees

Bishop Trevor Willmott has spoken of the moral and Christian duty to take the situation of refugees seriously. Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Afternoon Edition programme on Thursday 3rd September, he was questioned about the moral response to the continuing migrant and refugee crisis unfolding across Europe.

Asked if Prime Minister David Cameron’s only option was to accept more people into the country, Bishop Willmott said:

“I think the option is for all of us to understand what it is to be a refugee. Refugees are fleeing persecutions. I’m with the Prime Minister, let’s tackle the cause, but I would also say, we must tackle the symptom as well. So those people who now saying we have been the victims of persecution, now need sanctuary, we need others to care for us. It’s both.

The Bishop reflected on comments made by the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, that Europe was in danger of losing its Christian heritage. Bishop Trevor said:

“The Christian heritage is a heritage that says that humans matter and I would stand with anybody who says we have to tackle that issue seriously, and get back to the individual, to the humanity. But it’s a problem for all of us, not just some. Not one county but every country.

When asked to respond to a number of texts into the programme suggesting that the UK was full, and that it would only be the poorest communities who would be affected by an increase in the number of immigrants into the country, the Bishop said:

“I serve people in this part of East Kent, many who live, in the judgement of others, in deprived communities, and they say to me time and time again, lets speak out and support other people in need.

He called for a balanced debate, saying it was important to recognise that the balanced debate was one which was clear that it was people and their needs which were being:

“This country has a proud history of welcoming those who are fleeing persecution and I think that is what many of these people seeking status here are about, they are refugees fleeing persecution. We owe it to them, it is a moral duty, and I would say as a Christian, we owe it to them to take their situation seriously.”

  • Further statements have been made by Archbishop Justin Welby who referred to the situation as: ‘…a hugely complex and wicked crisis that underlines our human frailty and the fragility of our political systems.’ (read his comments in full here – https://medium.com/@lambethpalace/archbishop-of-canterbury-s-statement-on-the-migrant-crisis-3bf630dc005b
  • A letter by the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker has been printed in The Times today (Friday 4th September) stating that charities and churches in the UK were ‘ready to play their proper part in helping assimilate an equitable and realistic number of refugees into Britain.’ Read full text here.