Our two bishops have been speaking out against the threat of right-wing politics to migrants and refugees in Europe during a conference jointly organised by the Diocese in Europe with the Anglican Alliance and USPG at the Kardinal Schulte Haus in Cologne, Germany.

In addition to Anglicans from the Diocese in Europe, the consultation (on Wednesday 12 October 2016) heard from members of the US-based Episcopal Church, the Church in Wales, the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East’s Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, and the Church of England’s Diocese of Canterbury. Other participants include representatives from the Roman Catholic Community of Sant’Egidio, the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Lutheran World Federation, the Swiss Evangelical Alliance, the UNHCR, and the Church Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME).

The rise of right-wing political movements across Europe is hampering efforts to provide a coherent approach to refugees across the European Union, two bishops have said. The Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, Robert Innes, and the suffragan Bishop in Europe, David Hamid, made their comments at the conclusion of a Diocese in Europe consultation on the refugee crisis jointly organised with USPG and the Anglican Alliance. 
“We are living in a very difficult political situation. The politics are, at the moment, rallying against us,” Bishop Innes said. “Migration has hit the European Union in the wake of a deep financial crisis. Many people in Europe are suffering austerity; and a combination of serious conflict on our borders, together with austerity, has created an extremely difficult situation. 
“There is a great deal of disillusion with the European Union which is leading to the growth of right-wing movements and the demand for strong leaders; which is, frankly, very dangerous. We have been there before. . .
“The failure of our politics is leading to massive distress amongst individuals whose stories have been told eloquently [at the consultation].”

Bishop Hamid emphasised this point, saying that Europe was suffering from “an epidemic of amnesia” in which the Church had a role to be the “bearer of memory . . . to remind the community of who we are, where we have been, and where we have come from.”
He said: “The collapse of our moral leadership in the EU states, in the face of the current movements of peoples that we experienced in the past couple of years, is incredible in light of what this very continent has experienced during and in the aftermath of World Wars. . .
“We know, living in Europe, that there is growing conservatism, nationalism and in some places a right-wing ascendency. It is all feeding and growing fear and xenophobia. In all of this the church’s role is to make sure the truth is told.”

Information from Gavin Drake, Anglican Communion News Service.

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