The large numbers of war refugees and poverty stricken migrants pouring into Europe is a matter for immediate concern and action. But it should be concern and action primarily for the displaced and suffering refugees and those fleeing sub-human conditions and political systems where human rights violations, religious persecution and injustice are so cruel and common.
The secularized European Union has generally bypassed Christian values and replaced them with the pragmatic rules and regulations of an over-organized social welfare state. But those EU legalistic processes and procedures cannot properly respond to humanitarian crises and to the human suffering of refugees and those fleeing violence and sub-human intolerable conditions of abuse and discrimination.
The secular political establishment of the EU is in turmoil and confusion. Without a special law agreed by all they are stymied and unable to respond. Besides several members will not agree to a share the challenge because of racial, economic or political pressures in their countries. The have stated openly that they are against any plan to accept a quota of refugees.
Is the vaunted European Union really a union at all some are asking. Do most of the members really believe and adhere to the high principles of justice, fairness, respect for human rights and economic equality for the poor and the oppressed of the world? Refugees and displaced migrants victims of oppression have rights of protection and help anywhere in the world. Freedom of movement is a key part of the EU and it can apply to refugees as everybody else.
Some states are in the EU for what they can get out of it for themselves. Their negative reactions and unwelcome closed doors is a disgrace and not worthy of a civilized people. Branding these people as “illegal” and justifying oppressing and abusing them ignores the war they are fleeing and the truth that humanitarian needs are more important than the rigid strict rules and regulations that block them from reaching a safe welcoming haven. These unwelcoming nations of the EU are not good neighbours and don’t care about the plight of the refugees and those fleeing human rights violations and extreme poverty. That’s the effect of secularization and the loss of Christian beliefs in love of neighbour.
The politicians for the “no to refugees”, policies and are refusing to accept them care more for their political careers than the humans suffering so much. They are morally constipated and devoid of compassion for human suffering. They hide behind heartless and unfeeling bureaucratic procedures that block the refugees from finding relief and a better life. The refugees and migrants fleeing oppression want to be free from extermination terrorists, chlorine and gasoline filled barrel bombs dropped on civilians by Assad of Syria. All this with hardly a protest or reaction of outrage from the West for such atrocities.
There are outstanding exceptions, such as Germany, Austria, Sweden, France and Italy and most of all Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan and a few others who accept and help the refugees and even the migrants asylum seekers but they too are politically paralyzed. Germany has taken 40% of the travelers already and the UK only a miserable mean 4% and has a closed door policy which David Cameron announced he would open the door a fraction to allow in a few more Syrian refugees.
The Christian response is that of compassion and the love of neighbour. The heart of Christianity is imbedded in the answer of Jesus of Nazareth when he was asked who is my neighbour. His response is in his story about the victim of violence dying on the side of the road. A rich cleric and an upper class social elite came by; they saw the victim and they quickly hurried away doing nothing such was their apathy and indifference.
A social outcast from Samaria, a migrant in Israel who passed that way saw the wounded man who was a total stranger to him.He had been robbed of all his possessions like a refugee or a migrant in distress. The traveler responded immediately with compassion and gave the dying man medical aid and brought him to a hospital. He paid a large sum of money for his recovery and offered to pay all future expenses on his return. He is known as the good Samaritan and the example of the good neighbor who we are called upon to love even if they are not our relatives or clan.
There are remarkable dedicated people and Non-Government organizations assisting the refugees and the desperate migrants fleeing awful degrading and oppressive regimes and poverty. However it is the government that has to respond and welcome and help them.
Some social elite politicians and media label them all unwanted illegal migrants. This is a insult to suffering humanity where most of them obvious Syrian refugees fleeing a bloody cruel war. The shocking picture of the body of a small boy being carried ashore after drowning in a tragic attempt to reach European soil has shaken the world through social media.
Over 2000 desperate people have died trying to escape terrible conditions in Syria, Libya and other countries where; violence, human rights violations, injustice, cruelty, discrimination and indecent poverty makes life unbearable. The large numbers of Refugees and migrants coming into Europe fleeing bombing atrocities of the Taliban and Isis and the tyrant Assad should be seen as a benefit not a burden. European Nations have more people dying than being born and face labor shortages. The founding pilgrims of America were refugees fleeing religious persecution in Europe.
The North American indigenous people welcomed and helped them. They were not Christian but helped these unknown strangers and migrants that crossed an ocean seeking a life of freedom. The Irish fleeing famine migrated and populated America and built it’s railroads and cities and thousands died in the American civil war fighting slavery. Europe was rebuilt for migrants and refugees of WWII.
Europe can benefit from the skills, learning and hardworking labor of migrants and refugees who are determined to work hard and succeed if given the chance and are not discriminated against or confined to camps and ghettos. They will be grateful all their lives for the welcome and new life and reject extreme Islam. They have suffered from it already. The principles and values of the EU are challenged as never before and if the Eastern countries can remember their own refugee past and poverty and lack of freedom under communism they will welcome these people seeking a new better life.
Fr. Shay Cullen