Hieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece has appealed to the international community to “join forces to solve the greatest problem and wave of refugees on European soil since World War II”.
“Armed confrontations, civil hostilities, economic interests, poverty and growing injustice in the broader Mediterranean area continue to push millions of fellow human beings to an uncertain and dangerous journey which, very often, has a tragic end. Our seas have become liquid graves. Our islands and our people stand with moving altruism on the side of the desperate.”
In a letter to the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, he called for “all possible efforts so that the civil war in the broader area of Syria comes to an end, that people and families are no more uprooted from their ancestral homeland, and that those who are already living as refugees be assisted to overcome their pains”.
The Church of Greece will continue to support the relief of “the afflicted refugees”.
“However, we share the view of the Hellenic government, and believe that our small country, exhausted from the years-long economic crisis, is not in a position to confront alone this major refugee issue.”
Instead the Archbishop argues that “substantial interventions” are needed.
“We consider that the manifestation of European solidarity, first of all through the re-examination of the decision to close the borders, but also through substantial efforts to eliminate the root causes of the refugee crisis, should be undertaken …
“Our church has the responsibility of carrying and amplifying the voice of those who ask our assistance, of condemning any attempt to demean and degrade the sacred character of the human person, of stating our pain for everything that torments human beings, of serving and assisting every fellow human with all our strength and our might.”
The Archbishop’s statement’s finished by appealing for churches to complement one another to achieve “European solidarity” in “a declaration of peace and fraternity”.