The advocacy statement of ecumenical organisations responding to the new EU Migrant Pact and the situation of migrants and refugees in Europe was received 25 September in the European Commission offices in Brussels. The statement was addressed to Vangelis Demiris, cabinet member of the vice president of the commission Margaritis Schinas, who is coordinating the commission’s work on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum.
Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen, general secretary of the Conference of European Churches, and Dr Torsten Moritz, general secretary of the Churches' Commission for Migrants in Europe, delivered the statement to Demiris, who is responsible for the dialogue with the churches and faith-based organisations.
Sørensen said he believes there is still room for improvement in the proposals launched by the EU on 23 September. "Our member churches, among other European faith traditions, remain committed to a transparent dialogue with the European Commission and the co-legislators, the council and the parliament in the context of Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty,” he said. “Churches also remain committed to building bridges between different opinions on migration, and certainly between refugees, migrants and Europeans. We believe that churches have a fundamental role in facilitating and contributing to the intercultural and interreligious encounters in Europe in order to strengthen efforts for coherent, just and peaceful societies.”
Moritz said that, as representatives of churches from across Europe and as part of a global fellowship, they appreciate the opportunity to meet and exchange with the cabinet of Schinas. An earlier exchange took place in January during the drafting process of the EU Migration Pact.
“In the text of the EU Migration Pact, we do recognise overall good intentions and some promising ideas,” said Moritz. “However, the overall focus on border, border procedures, return and cooperation with dubious governments in third countries is very worrying.”
He added that reactions from church members across Europe have been pouring in, particularly from those who have welcomed people seeking protection, sponsored humanitarian corridors, rescued people from drowning, and, most recently, intervened to help after the fire in the Moria camp. “Some are former refugees themselves,” said Moritz. “Many of them have expressed a feeling of embarrassment for being European at this moment.”
The statement is co-signed by the ACT Alliance, the Anglican Communion, the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, the Conference of European Churches, the European Region of the World Association for Christian Communication, the Evangelical Church of Greece, the Integration Center for Migrant Workers – Ecumenical Refugee Program, Non Profit Organisation of the Church of Greece, the Lutheran World Federation, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity , the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the World Communion of Reformed Churches (European Region), the World Council of Churches and the World Methodist Council.
Photo gallery: Churches' work supporting refugees in Europe