Responses of the Church in
Europe to the refugee crisis
1. The Church in Europe and its social structures and organizations have a long
term track record of involvement in refugee and migrant assistance within their
respective countries. They also support refugees and migrants in countries of
departure and first arrival. Relevant partnership and operational models were
built which proved to be adequate in responding to the present crisis.
2. The Churches in Europe have shown great openness and responded positively
to the urgent needs of migrants and refugees, and to the appeal of the Holy
Father to host refugees. The operational organization and the political
positioning build on various actors including parish, religious congregations and
volunteer commitment up to diocesan leadership initiatives.
3. It was felt that the better understanding of the needs and the actual encounter
of refugees contributes to deepen respect for human dignity, to change an initial
or a priori attitude; overcome feelings of fear and distrust and reveal positive
and generous attitudes. Mercy is a better understood concept in the face of the
present events, even more so when people have a name and a face. This explains
the many Church efforts to increase the understanding and the fraternal dialogue
between nationals and newly arrived refugees.
4. The Church assistance provided to migrants includes immediate care and
assistance to those most in need and multifold longer term actions oriented to
facilitate integration, including also the publication of guidelines and position
5. The Church interacts with authorities in most European countries, and builds
its action in syntonia with States. Its expertise serves to better inform, plan and
contribute to social cohesion and the development of solution building policies.
In an effort to contribute to the welcoming of the refugees, and looking for
peaceful solutions in the countries from where people fled, its expertise and
positioning is often of conciliatory and prophetic value. She advocates against
any reduction of the asylum space, pleads for safe and legal pathways, for a
quality welcome and for integration procedures including family reunification
whereby full priority is given to the human person above his/her status.
6. In welcoming the refugee/migrant the Church constructively faces the
complexity of situations but its efforts are burdened by the reducing means, the
lack of solidarity between States; the inadequacy of some national strategies; the
differences in status; growing xenophobic behavior combined with feelings of
insecurity; logistic issues including delayed arrivals and the determination of the
refugees/migrants to continue their road until the destination of their choice.
7. Contacts with the Church of origin and with the diaspora vary in the fields of
interaction as well as in the purpose for such interaction. The presence of priests
from countries of origin has proved to be very helpful in bridging the gaps and
establishing the dialogue.