Europe has an “inescapable duty” to welcome migrants and refugees, Spanish Archbishop of Urgell Joan-Enric Vives has claimed.
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Vives wrote in a reflection Sunday that Europe not only has the “duty” to receive migrants and refugees, but it needs these people as well, since countries on the continent are “aging rapidly and dangerously”.
The archbishop brought to mind the migrant rescue boat shipwrecks and standoffs this summer in the Mediterranean.
He said “many associations and many European citizens wanted and want to welcome these refugees with open arms, because they are people fleeing situations of injustice and looking for a better future”.
“We cannot close ourselves up in selfishness”, Vives warned.
“Demanding the right of asylum, encouraging welcome and generating solidary attitudes towards refugees escaping violence is an inescapable duty on the part of European countries”, Vives wrote.
For Christians, refugee and migrant welcome is “an inescapable putting into practice of the love and compassion that Jesus expects of his friends”, he added.
The Archbishop of Urgell praised, in this sense, a recent document of grassroots Spanish Catholic groups – Migrantes con derechos (‘Migrants with rights’).
That document said the lack of EU response to the migrant tragedy in the Mediterranean “constitutes a flagrant breach of international agreements and a very serious responsibility by omission, in the face of the deaths that may occur in the present and in the future”.
Vives backed the reminder of Migrantes con derechos that EU Governments have an “ethical duty… to arbitrate effective and respectful responses to human rights in these situations”.
Concluding his reflection, the archbishop recalled Pope Francis’ call – in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees September 29 – to centre migration policy in these four words: “welcome, protect, promote and integrate”.
“Inspired by compassion, by vision for the future and by courage, we must advance in the construction of peace, defeating indifference”, Vives wrote.