MESSAGE FOR REFUGEE WEEK 2015
From the Most Rev Timothy Costelloe SDB, Archbishop of Perth
As the 2015 Refugee Week draws to an end, we are reminded that refugees and others forcibly driven away from their homelands challenge us as Christians not only to recognise Christ in the stranger and the needy, but also to welcome him. Indeed to fail to do so would be, as Pope Francis said recently in relation to refugees stranded on the open seas in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, “an attack on life”.
In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus identifies the helpless and abandoned stranger as a neighbour we are called to care for. The stranger reminds us of our Christian obligation to offer compassion and practical assistance to all people without distinction as to religion or background, respecting in each of them their dignity as a human being made in the image of God.
In our Catholic understanding, the service of charity to our neighbour and our commitment to the Word of God and the Sacraments are two sides of the one coin. Together, they constitute our response to the “greatest commandment” which is to love God wholeheartedly and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.
Even though migration in today’s world is changing and becoming more complex, refugees, along with everyone else, have a right to live free, dignified and self-reliant lives. They must not be demonised or robbed of their human dignity. Nor must they be abandoned or rejected. They share a common humanity with us. They are equally children of God.
Pope Francis is calling on the Church to be a “healer of wounds” and a “warmer of hearts”. Let us ask ourselves what this might be requiring of us as we think of those who come to us seeking shelter and hope.
+Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB
Archbishop of Perth
– Christ calls us to recognise and to welcome him in the stranger and the needy
– Failure to show charity to refugees is, in Pope Francis’s words, “an attack on life”
– Commitment to God’s Word and the Sacraments and love of neighbour are equal in God’s eyes
– Everyone, including refugees, has a right to live a free, dignified and self-reliant life
– Refugees share a common humanity with everyone and are equally God’s children
– What more can we do to heal wounds and warm the hearts of refugees, helping them to find shelter and hope?