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Lutheran bishop remembers deceased refugees, urges church advocacy

Lutheran bishop remembers deceased refugees, urges church advocacy

Bishop Dr Tamás Fabiny, Lutheran Church in Hungary. © Paul Jeffrey/WCC

16 December 2015

Bishop Dr Tamás Fabiny, Lutheran World Federation vice president for Central Eastern Europe, remembered deceased refugees in a sermon at the prayer gathering of the Sant’Egidio community in Budapest on 22 November. He also urged churches to continue to advocate for open and supportive attitudes toward refugees, especially in communities where prejudice is steeped in tradition.

“There are several good examples of civil activities in Germany and the Nordic countries,” the bishop said. “In Hungary, the Evangelical Lutheran Church is running programmes in schools in order to inform the students and at the same time raise their sensitivity toward a more inclusive attitude. It is also important that helping the refugees should not be automatically associated with taking political sides.”

In his sermon, he mourned the tens of thousands of refugees who have drowned in the Mediterranean during the past 20 years as they fled from war, famine and tyranny in hope of a better life, or even in the hope of life itself. “The flood of refugees in these past months in particular has resulted in many victims,” he said. “Crowds of vulnerable people have been tricked by smugglers, other people driven by ill will or prejudice have robbed the refugees of dignity, and many of them died because of accidents and sickness along the way.”

Wherever children have started their journey — from the Middle East, Africa or any region of the world — their families are fleeing from unbearable circumstances and driven by a hope that they will find a new home, said Fabiny. “We saw them all in Budapest, at the Keleti railway station or stumbling along the rails at Röszke,” he said. “The children looked at us with huge eyes from the windows of buses and trains. They looked for safety and protection in their parents' embrace. Occasionally, they smiled and waved.”

In Budapest, he also remembered the children who did not survive their journey. He cited Mark 10:13-16, in which Jesus says to his disciples, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Jesus speaks from his own experience, he added. “He was only a little boy when Herod and his henchmen caused him to seek refuge. The Holy Family, too, had to flee from weapons and danger. They were migrants. Providence's plan for them was that they should stay alive. But from then on, Jesus knew what exile meant. That foxes have caves, birds of the sky nests, but the Son of God has nowhere to lay his head.”

Read also:

During visits, Greek archbishop urges action on refugee crisis (WCC press release of 10 December)

Church challenge: Welcoming "strangers" in a climate of fear (WCC press release of 18 November)

Italian churches urge more humanitarian corridors for migrants (WCC press release of 12 November)

Tveit on the refugee situation: Churches can make a difference (WCC press release of 5 November)

European bishops and church leaders call for refugees safe passage (WCC press release of 29 October)

Refugees in Reykjavík share their stories (WCC press release of 29 October)