MANILA, Sept. 9, 2015— Catholic bishops called on Filipinos in Europe to join Pope Francis in providing concrete help to refugees from countries in conflict like Syria.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, president of Caritas Internationalis, said it is high time for people to be in solidarity with refugees who are “fleeing death” from war and hunger.
“After seeing the horrendous images of the ongoing refugee migrant problem in Europe… it is lamentable that many continue to be blind, deaf, and mute,” Tagle said.
The Manila archbishop lamented that it took children to die and get washed ashore in Turkey for the refugee crisis to catch the world’s attention.
“Emotions of the world were stirred by the picture of the boy that came out… It is regrettable but we have to thank that picture since it moved many people,” said Tagle.
The head of the Philippine bishops’ migrant ministry also called on overseas Filipino workers in Europe to join the Church in showing mercy to the refugees.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said this is another chance for Filipinos to show how much they care, especially for those who need help by making donations.
He said even the parishes and the dioceses in the Philippines can do the same thing.
“This is for us to show that Filipinos are caring people and in solidarity with those who are suffering and in need. Let’s help in our own little way,” he said.
Help from the Philippines
Santos chairs the migrants ministry of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
As former rector of Pontificio Collegio Filippino for several years in Rome, he also headed the Italian Conference on Philippine Migrants.
He said as OFWs, they, too, were welcomed by their host countries.
“So we reciprocate. We return the favor. We open our hearts and hands to accept and pray for them. We offer what we can offer,” Santos said.
Pope Francis yesterday called on parishes, convents, and monasteries across Europe to take in refugees arriving on their shores.
In fact, the Pope himself promised to provide homes to two refugee families, as he called on other Catholic institutions to do the same.
‘Greatest refugee crisis’
The Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest fraternal association of Catholic men, said the violence in the Middle East has resulted in many deaths and the greatest refugee crisis since World War II.
It said over 4 million people have been displaced. Among the most affected are Iraqi and Syrian Christians, who are the victims of “ongoing systematic cleansing and persecution.”
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said the K of C is committed to assisting the refugees, saying they cannot be part of what the Pope has called the “complicit silence” of many people.
To date, the organization has donated more than US$4 million to relief efforts in Iraq and Syria through the Knights of Columbus Christian Refugee Relief Fund.
However, Anderson said more assistance is needed, as the response from the international community has been “woefully inadequate.”
He said interested donors can visit the website www.christiansatrisk.org to learn more about the humanitarian emergency.
“As Knights of Columbus, we are called to stand in solidarity with all those Christians around the world who are suffering from violent persecution, offering spiritual and material assistance to these victims of crimes against humanity,” he said. (R. Lagarde / CBCPNews)