10 May 2022, The Tablet

Bishops criticise Nationality and Borders Act

Bishops criticise Nationality and Borders Act

The bishops, pictured here at Mass during their spring plenary, have spoken up for refugees and asylum seekers.

The bishops of England and Wales have criticised the new Nationality and Borders Act as failing to treat asylum seekers justly or honour their dignity.

In a resolution from the annual spring plenary, held in Cardiff last week, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said the plea of Pope Francis to welcome and respect migrants and refugees was “as urgent as ever”.

They added: “Given the events of recent weeks it is of particular relevance for the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Our appeal for refugees and asylum seekers to be welcomed and respected is based on the fundamental principle of the dignity of every person, created in the image and likeness of God. Every nation should recognise this dignity and the rights which flow from it.”

With more than 80 million people across the world displaced by war, poverty, persecution and the effects of global warming, collaborative international action is needed to address the crisis, the bishops said.

“The value we attach to each person and the compassion which the afflicted deserve demands that we welcome asylum seekers, treating them justly and honouring their dignity as human persons.”

The Nationality and Borders Act fails to do this, they added, supporting the prosecution of people smugglers and human traffickers. “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.”

They also applauded those who have offered hospitality to refugees and campaigned on their behalf.

Cardinal Nichols observed after the meeting that the government’s policies were out of step with public opinion on refugees. “There is a mismatch between the willingness of our people and the practice of our systems,” he said.



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