The lead Catholic bishop for migrants and refugees, Bishop Paul McAleenan, has said the Church will continue to “love the stranger”. He reiterated the call for the expansion of safe routes for those fleeing their homes, as the Illegal Migration Act received Royal Assent and became law.
“As a Church, we will continue to welcome those seeking sanctuary here and call for the expansion of safe routes,” he said. Last week he urged the UK government “to redouble its efforts to tackle factors such as conflict, persecution, and climate change that force people to flee their homes”.
Bishop Terence Drainey, chair of Caritas Social Action Network (Csan) and chief executive Raymond Friel also urged Catholics to make their voices heard on the Illegal Migration Act. They said, “We call upon the Catholic community to speak out and write to their MPs urging them to work to expand safe routes for those seeking asylum.” They pressed Catholics to express opposition to the Act, which they said is at odds with the teaching of the Catholic Church, and urged them to work for more humane and workable policy solutions “which respect the dignity and rights of migrating people”.
As a Csan member, Caritas Southwark is encouraging diocesan study and action in response to these calls. “These remind us that the people who take perilous journeys to arrive upon the shore of our diocese are made in God’s image and likeness and share the same hopes and needs as the established residents,” said Phil Kerton of Southwark Justice and Peace and Seeking Sanctuary.
Jesuit Refugee Service UK said: “JRS UK will continue to oppose this despicable piece of legislation and call for it to be repealed. And we will continue to stand in solidarity with refugees. As they are pushed further to the margins, detained, rendered destitute, denied sanctuary, we will continue to accompany and serve them as companions.”