Cardinal Konrad Krajewski is leading the Church outrage over the Moria refugee camp fires, denouncing that “inhumane” EU migrant policy is “killing” new arrivals to the continent.

– “Empty that concentration camp”

“You could see from the beginning that it was going to happen, it’s normal. What we are hearing from the Lesbos camp is a cry, a human cry”, Cardinal Krajewski told the Italian Il Corriere della Sera newspaper soon after fires ripped through the Greek island refugee camp on the evening of September 8.

“Since Pope Francis’ visit in April 2016, we have been asking to empty that concentration camp, as the Holy Father rightly called it: a European concentration camp, again”, denounced the papal almoner, or charity chief.

More than 12,000 asylum seekers including women and children and elderly and other vulnerable people have been left with absolutely nothing in the wake of the blazes, after having been forced to survive in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions for months.

Cardinal Krajewski recalled that all it would take to solve the humanitarian tragedy of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers on Europe’s borders is simple political will.

“Unfortunately, politics kills people. An inhumane politics, contrary to all European values. Now there have been fires, a desperate cry. Fortunately, there was no news of violence, but… what about next time? How many people have to die before something finally changes?”

Insisting, as the Pope did some weeks ago, that “God will judge us for this: the Lord will hold us to account for what he have done or haven’t done”, Krajewski warned that “these people are already entering Europe. But Europe, along with its rights, is trampling on hope”.

– Orthodox Archbishop of Athens denounces EU over “inadmissible, immoral and inhuman instrumentalisation and exploitation” of migrants, refugees

Cardinal Krajewski was just the first in a long line of Church figures to deplore the situation on Lesbos spotlighted by this week’s fires.

Insisting that the Church “will always be by the side of every poor, persecuted, weak fellow human being, every refugee… [w]ith deeds and not with words… in practice and not in theory… [b]ecause Christ was the first refugee”, Ieronymos, the Orthodox Archbishop of Athens, blasted the EU over its “fraudulent plan of inadmissible, immoral and inhuman instrumentalisation and exploitation of desperate refugees and immigrants”.

“The time has now come for the European Union to assume its responsibilities and to contribute effectively to the preservation and protection of its very eastern borders, always with respect for the value and dignity of every human being”, the Orthodox hierarch implored.

For his part, the general secretary of the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, Dr. Torsten Moritz, pleaded that “what needs to happen is that people are relocated across Europe, that they are really received and not deterred, and that the hotspot approach does not become the rule in European asylum policy”.

In the meantime, COMECE – the Commission of the Catholics Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union – expressed its hope “that this predictable tragedy will serve as a wake-up call” to the EU on migrants and refugees.

Maria Alverti, the director of Caritas in Greece, reflected menawhile on the suffering the Lesbos refugees have already endured in their lives and on what it must be like “to yet again be confronted with misery, uncertainty and lack of shelter”.

Calling it a “miracle” that there were no casualities in the Lesbos fires, Alverti stressed that “human compassion is more vital now that ever”.

“Clearly, alternative reception conditions based in solidarity and that ensure the human dignity of every resident must be sought across Europe now and in the future”, the head of Caritas Hellas pleaded.

“As EU leaders are finalising the upcoming pact on asylum and migration, such a predictable tragedy should serve as a wakeup call, warning leaders to avoid duplicating this model, which was doomed to fail from the start with the overcrowding”, added Secretary General of Caritas Europa Maria Nyman.

The Church charity head called “urgently” for “a fair and permanent relocation mechanism ensuring solidarity and responsibility sharing among EU Member States, anchored in human rights and human dignity”.

On Novena, more Church reactions to the Moria fires:

Jesuit Refugee Service Italy: “Time for the European Union to show solidarity” and evacuate refugees from Lesbos

Pope warns “no one can remain indifferent” to migrant “tragedies” day after tragic fire in Lesbos refugee camp

Cardinals, archbishop: “Europe should be ashamed” after devastating fire in Greek island migrant camp

Cardinal Hollerich deplores after Moria fires: “The identity of Europe” has gone up in flames

German Bishops warn after Moria fires: “Europe can no longer afford to turn a blind eye”


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.