Cardinal Reinhard Marx has donated 100,000 euros to the Lesbos refugees in the concentration camps on the Greek island.

Driving the news

The Archbishop of Munich-Freising and President of the German Bishops’ Conference announced the aid in a press release February 4.

A diocesan statement said that the donation would go to Caritas Internationalis, so that the Church charity could “offer emergency medical and psychological help” to the Lesbos refugees.

Marx’s donation comes from the Munich-Freising diocese’s fund for humanitarian help, rather than from the Church fund available for use at the cardinal’s discretion for which Marx gave in early January 50,000 euros to the German Evangelical Church’s refugee rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

Go deeper

Announcing Marx’s donation, the Munich-Freising diocese lamented the fact that “in the Moira camp on the island of Lesbos, there are 15,000 refugees, a third of whom are children”.

“According to the information of Cáritas, these refugees have not been granted a social security number during the months they have been on the island”, the diocesan press release continued, which means the new arrivals have “little or no access to basic medical care”.

“In view of the increasingly dramatic situation and the immense need, Caritas Germany has decided to significantly expand local aid” to the Lesbos refugees, the Munich-Freising diocese also announced.

It added that local partner Caritas Hellas has established a new camp for the Lesbos refugees, Kara Tepe, which is “now home to 1,300 vulnerable people, victims of torture, sick and disabled people and pregnant women” who in their new situation with Caritas Greece “have a safe place there and receive humane treatment”.

Why it matters

Marx’s donation to the Lesbos camps is not the only gesture of the cardinal in recent weeks towards the long-suffering refugees there.

Marx told KNA December 23 that “something must soon be done to end the dire situation” on the Greek island.

The cardinal was referring on that situation to the tragedy of the 40,000 refugees now struggling to survive on the islands in the eastern Aegean Sea in camps with a capacity of 7,500.

The Greek Government has raised the alarm for those 40,000 forcibly displaced people – including 4,000 unaccompanied minors – and has described the humanitarian situation as dramatic.

“The situation on Lesbos is intolerable from a humanitarian point of view”, denounced Marx.

The Archbishop of Munich and Freising also called for a pan-European solution on the welcome of migrants from which no state would be exempt.

For the record

In a December ecumenical service in Munich cathedral, too, Marx lamented that the refugee dead in the Mediterranean “are Christ”.

“The people who drown in the Mediterranean are… tests”, the cardinal added, for whether or not Europe can truly call itself Christian.

Although the Churches must not play politics on the migrant crisis, it is important that they speak out, the close adviser to Pope Francis continued, explaining that “we can make it clear where the wounds in the world are”, since Christ identified “with everyone who becomes a victim”.

As a solution to the migrant crisis, Marx offered a series of five “simple, simple principles” he said European politicians must abide by:

“Nobody dies on our European external borders. Everyone who comes to the border is treated humanely. Every asylum seeker gets a fair hearing. Nobody is sent back where death and destruction are imminent. And we do everything in the countries of origin of the migrants so that there are prospects for the people”.

Next on Novena:

Cardinal Marx: “What’s happening on Lesbos cannot be tolerated, especially at Christmas”

German Protestant head receives death threats for floating refugee rescue ship to which Cardinal Marx has also donated

Marx donates 50,000 euros to Protestant-led refugee rescue operations in Mediterranean

Swiss Bishops give 10,000 francs to German Churches’ refugee rescue efforts in Mediterranean

Cologne Churches call on EU to resume refugee rescue operations in Mediterranean

Cardinal Marx deplores Europe refugee “scandal”: “The dead in the Mediterranean are Christ”

Pope warns on migrant, human trafficking crises: “Our indifference is a sin!”


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