Who will help them, if not us?

While the Church raises questions on migrations, lay Christians promote an initiative that brings together over one thousand volunteers actively involved for the refugees

“The situation across the Middle East is difficult and it has been a serious concern of the Church for a long time. But this issue should be at the centre of attention of all civilized societies and nations”, said Slovakian archbishop Cyril Vasil, Secretary of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, who underlined that persecuted Christians suffer without “seeing any solution to this crisis”. Catholic Church dignitaries agreed that the situation requires the adoption of measures precisely at the heart of the conflicts and persecutions, but at the same time they appealed to all men and women of good will to open their hearts and arms to all those who have no other option than flee from their homeland. An answer to the Pope’s plea. The migration crisis in Europe was at the centre of the debates of the Catholic bishops of Slovakia during the plenary meeting this week. “We have attentively listened to the invitation of the Holy Father and we are reflecting on the ways for its concrete implementation. Here all parishes and religious communities carry out charitable activities, we take care of the needs of socially disadvantaged and vulnerable persons, in cooperation with authorities and public institutions, and seek the best ways to help migrants and refugees in our programs”, said Martin Kramara, spokesperson of the bishops’ Conference, who pointed out that a good plan and good communication are the keys to efficient help. Many faithful have expressed their will to provide support to those fleeing from wars and famine, and the bishops appointed Msgr. Jozef Halko, auxiliary bishop of Bratislava, as chief coordinator of these efforts. Various religious communities have offered utmost support to these peoples in distress. “We reject all forms of phobia or manipulation that ignore the seriousness and the gravity of this humanitarian crisis. We hereby underline the urgent need to give concrete help in the awareness that it is directly linked to the mission of the Church and to the Christian identity of Slovakia and of Europe”, states a release by the Slovakian province of the Company of Jesus. The Salesian family sees this as an opportunity to further the social integration and the education process of the refugees, of young people in particular. “In the spirit of our charisma, we intend to support especially young families with children along with orphan youths, to help them regain their social and educational environment in our Country”, said Sister Jana Kurkinova, Provincial Superior. Volunteers needed. Practical support to migrants is just one of the main tasks of official Church structures, institutions and religious communities. A dozen of non-governmental organizations and representatives of public institutions have already given their adhesion to the initiative titled “Who will help them, if not us?” created by lay Christians from the community of Ladislav Hanus (CLH). They started working before the summer and managed to bring together over one thousand volunteers who offered support in the refugees and migrants support program. For Juraj Sust, CLH chairperson, the lay Christian community seeks to influence the public opinion in favour of these people in distress through cooperation with renowned personalities in the public realm such as artists, politicians etc. “We firmly believe that these civil initiatives signal solidarity as well as the will to welcome the migrants and promote their inclusion inside our Country. We hope to be seen as a strong point of reference by the government in that granting asylum should not be a risky decision in political terms, but rather a responsible and precious choice that can rely on a large network of people and organizations willing to help families in need who fell victims of grave situations in their home countries, notably Syria and Iraq”, said Juraj Sust. The purpose of the initiative is “to present a feasible proposal for the integration of these families within Slovakian society, consisting in the promises of thousands of Slovakian families, organizations, churches and companies that pledge to give concrete support”. Registration for volunteers willing to offer their hearts, their hands and their homes is still open on the website www.ktopomoze.sk.

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