By Sarah Mac Donald - 07 September, 2015
Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin has added his voice to those seeking an immediate recall of the Dáil to discuss the refugee crisis as thousands of Syrians spilled into Austria and Germany over the weekend.
On Sunday, Bishop Doran said it is “clear that our borders need to be opened to deal with this humanitarian crisis” and that this was a matter for government, both national and local.
He reiterated his call on Friday for people to support Trócaire’s call to the Taoiseach to recall the Dáil. He underlined that before we can “help these desperate refugees we must allow them in”.
He said he supported Trócaire’s call so that Ireland as a whole can build on the remarkable work of rescue done during the summer by the Naval Service.
In his homily, the Bishop appealed to every parish community throughout his diocese to begin identifying suitable accommodation that might be made available to refugees when they do reach our shores, “so that they don’t just have a roof over their heads, but also the possibility of living as members of a caring community”.
On Friday he had asked parish communities and individual parishioners to consider whether there are vacant properties – houses, granny-flats or even spare-rooms which might possibly be suitable to accommodate refugees in a manner consistent with their dignity and which could be made available.
He said he would be consulting with his clergy during the coming week to see if it is possible to compile a register of accommodation that might be suitable for this purpose.
Acknowledging some of the resistance to the refugees, he said some will ask why we didn’t do the same for ‘our own’ homeless people.
“It is a good question and, perhaps, if we find it possible to respond generously to the refugee crisis, we may discover that we also have within us the capacity to respond to the crisis of local homelessness,” Bishop Doran challenged.
The Bishop of Elphin told the faithful that Europe is being challenged by circumstances “to open our hearts to people who, out of fear for their lives, have been forced to leave their homes”.
He recalled an interview with one Syrian man at the railway station in Budapest who commented, “Hungary is a lovely country, but I never came here before. I don’t know anyone who ever came here before. I don’t want to be here now.”
Referring to the human tragedy that is unfolding between North Africa, the Middle East and Europe, Dr Doran said images have begun to move people to action.
“The long term goal,” he suggested, “must be to create the conditions which will allow people to return home to a stable and peaceful society”.
“In the short to medium term, we cannot ignore the urgent need of those who are literally sitting at the door of Europe, like the poor man at the gate of Lazarus.”
Separately, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, is to lead a half night of prayer this Wednesday evening, 9 September 9, for all who are caught up in the humanitarian crisis at Zion parish in Rathgar.
The Archbishop of Dublin will celebrate the Eucharist at 8pm to begin the evening which will conclude with Compline at midnight.
In between, the church will be open for people to come and pray, with short structured prayers every half hour.