Bishop Angaelos: God instructs us to provide refuge and hospitality indiscriminately

His Grace Bishop Angaelos is the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK. This week he spoke out about conflict, national security and the provision of refuge for the most vulnerable.

“The current state of geo-politics and the numerous terrorist attacks around our world in recent months have led to a growing uncertainty and global anxiety with regards to both internal and external security. This concern has prompted debates on the need for vigilance, the safeguarding of national security and the protection of individuals.

“Those same debates have also uncovered an underlying scepticism over the fluidity of borders and ease of access for those potentially intending harm, while also highlighting a perceived lack of compassion and understanding for those fleeing that same harm.”

Bishop Angaelos – who is also the moderator of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland – said that it was “undeniable that there has been widespread instability and conflict that has also led to the inhumane treatment and vast displacement of millions of vulnerable people across the Middle East and elsewhere”.

“In seeking to protect individuals or a particular sector of a community, it is imperative that we do not alienate others, especially when it means denying the basic human rights and freedoms of those most vulnerable.”

He highlighted that “the generic application of law and policy [runs] the risk of violating the same rights they seek to protect, potentially doubly discriminating against vulnerable families and individuals fleeing war and conflict by denying them the opportunity to seek refuge and safe haven”.

“As Christians following Biblical teachings and traditions existing for millennia, we believe that God instructs us to provide refuge and hospitality to all humanity indiscriminately. He does not stop there in His instruction, but goes further to urge us to love all, even those who consider us their enemies.

The bishop cautioned against the “human brokenness” that has led to conflict being used to dehumanise others and deny them God-given rights and freedoms.

“At a time when some politicians across the globe are utilising language that potentially promotes division and polarisation, it is imperative for all in positions of influence or authority, whether religious leadership or other, to remind all of the crucial values of love, acceptance, forgiveness and mercy.”

The statement finished:

“As a Church that frequently finds itself at the receiving end of lethal terrorist attacks, we understand far too well the need to protect communities and individuals. At the same time however, we must not do so in a way that compromises our integrity or goes against the humaneness with which we must address the vast majority of those who do not directly or indirectly advocate for, aspire to, or inflict harm on others.”

You can read Bishop Angaelos’ full remarks on the Coptic Orthodox Church UK media blog.