Bishop Paul McAleenan, Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees, has issued a statement to mark the World Day for Refugees that falls on 20 June:
“I call on our society as a whole to reflect on how we can better help refugees, both through welcoming them into our society and communities, and through supporting refugees globally. In his message for Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis said “our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate”. A society is judged by how it treats the most vulnerable within it, and in England and Wales we must do more.
“As Catholics, we should welcome refugees into our communities, reaching out to the most vulnerable groups through the community sponsorship scheme for Syrian refugees. We should also keep refugees in our prayers, and look on practical ways to help.
“Our society must be mindful of the challenges and abuses refugees face, and look to protect them. Currently, in England and Wales refugees and asylum seekers can be indefinitely detained, often made destitute, and face unprecedented levels of hate crime.
“Refugees and asylum seekers must be integrated and their cause promoted so they can flourish and contribute to our society. We must recognise the value and gifts that they bring – instead many currently face barriers to work, effectively barring them from our society.
“Refugees abroad, and the organisations that care for them, also need support, and I commend the work done to support those groups.
“In his message on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis stated that ‘Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age.’ I hope that we will continue to see Christ in the refugees we welcome and support.”