By Sarah Mac Donald - 09 August, 2015
“The loss of such high numbers of innocent lives at sea resonates strongly with the Irish experience of the ‘coffin ships’ during the time of the Great Famine” – Bishop Crean.
Prayers will be said at Masses across the diocese of Cloyne today for all those affected or involved in the Mediterranean refugee crisis, especially the migrants making the perilous journey.
Bishop William Crean of Cloyne, who is also chairman of Trócaire, appealed on Saturday for the rights, religion and traditions of migrants fleeing persecution to be safeguarded.
In a statement, the Bishop said, “Almost every day we see in the media heart-breaking images of refugees fleeing from hunger, from war, from other grave dangers, in search of security and a dignified life for them and their families in Europe.”
He added that the loss of such high numbers of innocent lives at sea resonates strongly with the Irish experience of the ‘coffin ships’ during the time of the Great Famine.
Welcoming the “compassionate, humanitarian response” of the Irish Naval Service, many of whom have family connections with the diocese, Dr Crean referred to Pope Francis’ advocacy of a greater European-wide participation in rescue efforts.
He also cited the Pope’s call for action during his July 2013 visit to the island of Lampedusa and “heartfelt appeal” to the international community to react decisively and quickly to prevent further tragedies.
“What is required is a global solution to this global crisis in order to tackle the root causes of forced migration,” Bishop Crean stated.
Encouraging parishes across Cloyne to pray for the thousands of refugees who are undertaking the perilous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea on boats that are barely fit for purpose, for those who have perished in attempting to reach European shores and for those who are coming to the aid the refugees, the Bishop prayed that they may find welcome and respect, through the intercession of Mary, who herself knows the pain of being a refugee.
Separately, the Bishop for Migrants in the Church in England and Wales, Bishop Patrick Lynch has said he is “deeply concerned” about the “deepening humanitarian crisis” in Calais.
Bishop Lynch, who is also Auxiliary Bishop for Southwark, and Chair of the Office for Migration Policy of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said, “The crisis has developed over a decade and challenges us all, both as Christians and as Europeans. We must face up to this reality at various levels.”
Paying tribute to the compassionate response from the French Church, the Bishop called on the French authorities to redouble their efforts in providing adequate reception facilities for migrants.
“We acknowledge the work done by faith organisations in France and the UK together with charities, agencies and the great generosity of families and individuals to the relief efforts. The task is immense and their contributions are most valued.”
He added that the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales would be making a material contribution to those efforts.
He also highlighted that the answer to the current migrant crisis lies beyond Calais.
The UNCHR estimates indicate that in the first six months of this year, 137,000 refugees and migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea, travelling in terrible conditions upon unsafe boats and dinghies.
The 2014 estimate for the same period was 75,000.
Bishop Lynch suggested that in addition to addressing the humanitarian needs of the increasing numbers of migrants undertaking this treacherous journey, the root causes of current migration from North Africa and the Middle East across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe have to be examined.
He added, “We must face up to the shared responsibility of making the world a better and safer environment to live in.”
“We must examine as a matter of urgency the arms trade that fuels armed conflict and civil war, climate change, unjust economic policies, poverty and corruption as some of the underlying causes of this fundamental global trend.”
“The safety of vulnerable women and children who may fall prey to smugglers and human traffickers is paramount and must be addressed.”
Dr Lynch acknowledged that the current migration crisis is complex and there are no easy solutions for governments, non–governmental organisations, faith groups and charities working on the field.
However, he added, “governments, charities and humanitarian aid agencies should be encouraged to work together for a collaborative international response to the challenge in partnership with the countries of origin”.
“Countries of origin must recognise that ‘the defence of migrants rights’ is viable and effective when based on a firm foundation of legal norms, and operates under the rule of law. (Caritas Europa 2009).”
The following prayers for migrants are being used at some Masses in Cloyne today:
Prayer for Refugees and Victims of War
no one is a stranger to you
and no one is ever far from your loving care.
In your kindness, watch over refugees and victims of war,
those separated from their loved ones,
young people who are lost,
and those who have left home or who have run away from home.
Bring them back safely to the place where they long to be
and help us always to show your kindness
to strangers and to all in need
Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Suggested Prayers of Intercession:
Presider: Lord Jesus: Today you ask us to welcome into our hearts and lives those who have come to our shores to escape wars, poverty, oppression and violence. Grant us an open heart and mind, free of fear and doubt to welcome them into our communities.
For all those who have to leave their homes because of violence, poverty and corruption. May they find acceptance and understanding on their journey and be welcomed with Christian hospitality. We pray to the Lord. Lord hear our prayer.
For those who died seeking a better life, especially the thousands who died in the waters of the Mediterranean. May the Lord welcome them into his house and give comfort to their families. We pray to the Lord. Lord hear our prayer.
Conclusion: Lord God, in faith we pray to you. Be near to us as we pray, and be close to us as we work in your service. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.