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Down and Connor bishop calls for welcome to refugees

Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor has called on political leaders and Christians to welcome refugees during a speech at Mass yesterday in Crumlin, Co Antrim
Andrea McKernon

THE bishop of Down and Connor has called on political leaders and Christians to provide a "generous reception" for refugees.

Noel Treanor made the call as the Pope urged all Catholic parishes across Europe to take in a refugee family seeking asylum.

Bishop Treanor addressed the current refugee crisis in Europe in a statement at Sunday Mass in Co Antrim yesterday.

He said that "our countries must put in place an adequate humanitarian response for those who have reached our European shores and borders".

Bishop Treanor's statement was delivered at the Mater Dei Church in Crumlin.

He said that in responding to the needs of the refugees, political leaders needed the public to show "unequivocal civic generosity".

"This is where the gospel challenges each one of us as Christians," he said.

"This moment in our national and European history, germinating with so much loss of life, human trafficking, destruction of families, suffering, hunger, tragedy and loss of all kinds, demands that as individual persons and as a state and society, we do not surrender to what Pope Francis referred to as 'the globalisation of indifference'."

Bishop Treanor said that the "initial wave of good will" shown towards refugees must be followed by "sustained programmes and civic initiatives designed to integrate these new neighbours".

The crisis has seen hundreds of thousands of people risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea over the past few months in a bid to reach Europe.

The EU's response to the crisis has been under ever greater scrutiny after pictures of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy, washed up on a Turkish beach, were published around the world.

Alan Kurdi from Kobane in Syria died alongside his mother and five-year-old brother in a failed bid to reach the Greek island of Kos.

On Saturday, about 300 protesters attended a demonstration outside the European Commission office in Belfast, demanding more help for refugees.

Bishop Treanor's comments follow a speech by the Pope yesterday in which he urged all Catholic parishes to take in a refugee family.

In his weekly address to tens of thousands of the faithful in St Peter's Square, Pope Francis said the two parishes in the Vatican would lead by example.

Speaking in Italian to crowds of pilgrims in St Peter's Square on Sunday morning, the Pope said: "I appeal to the parishes, the religious communities, the monasteries and sanctuaries of all Europe to show the true meaning of the gospel and take in one family of refugees."

He urged Catholics throughout Europe to shelter refugees fleeing "death from war and hunger".

The Pope said it is not enough to say, "Have courage, hang in there," to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are on the march towards what he called "life's hope".

He called on every Catholic parish, convent, monastery and sanctuary in Europe to shelter a family, and asked bishops throughout Europe to urge their dioceses to do the same.

"I appeal to the parishes, the religious communities, the monasteries and sanctuaries of all Europe to show the true meaning of the gospel and take in one family of refugees."

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